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Title: Personal sketches of his own times, Vol. 2 (of 3)

Author: Sir Jonah Barrington

Release date: August 27, 2015 [eBook #49793]

Language: English

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Personal Sketches of His Own Times, Vol. II.

&c. &c. &c.



My Dear Lord,

The general approbation of a literary work must be highly gratifying to any Author. But the cordial approval of an eminent individual, whose grave, sound judgment, and profound erudition, give authenticity to his opinions, affords a gratification of an higher order.

Such was my feeling on your Lordship’s suggestion to me of a third volume of those Sketches, “composed of similar materials.” To have amused you gives me pleasure—to have informed you excites my vanity. My gratitude for your kindness (when in office) has met no alloy by retirement from a station where your repute will find no rivals. Your suggestion is in progress.

Time and declining health impair the vigour of men’s intellect,—in that point I must bow to Providence. But such as my coming volume may be, if it does not arrive at my own wishes, I hope it will not stop very short of your Lordship’s expectation.

I am, my Dear Lord,
With true regard and respect,
Your Lordship’s sincere Servant, &c.
Jonah Barrington.

10th July, 1828.

Passion for duelling in Ireland—Ancient duel before the judges and law authorities, &c. &c. at the Castle of Dublin—List of official and judicial duellists in author’s time—Family weapons described—The Fire-eaters’ Society—Their chiefs—Elegant institution of the Knights of Tara—Description of them—Their exhibitions and meetings—The rules of duelling and points of honour established by the fire-eaters, called the Thirty-six Commandments—Singular duel between the author and Mr. Richard Daley, a remarkable duellist and fop—Daley hit—Author’s second the celebrated Balloon Crosby—His singular appearance and character p. 1
Frequency of election duels—Ludicrous affair between Frank Skelton and an exciseman—Frank shoots the exciseman and runs away—His curious reasons—Sir J. Rourke’s quadrille duel, with five hits—Mr. H. D. G * * * y’s remarkable meeting with Counsellor O’Maher—O’Maher hit—Civil proposition of G * * * y’s second—G * * * y’s gallant letter to the author on his election for Maryborough—Honourable Barry Yelverton challenged by nine officers at once—His elucidation of the Fire-eaters’ Resolutions—Lord Kilkenny’s memorable duels and law-suits—His lordship is shot by Mr. Ball, an attorney—The heir to his title (the Hon. Somerset Butler) challenges Counsellor Burrowes—The latter hit, but his life saved by some gingerbread nuts—Lord Kilkenny’s duel with Counsellor Byrne—The counsellor wounded—Counsellor Guinness escapes a rencontre—Sketch of Counsellor M‘Nally—His duel with the author—His three friends: all afterward hanged—M‘Nally wounded—Bon-mot of Mr. Harding—The affair highly beneficial to M‘Nally—His character, marriage, and death—Ancient mode of fighting duels—The lists described—Duel of Colonel Barrington with Squire Gilbert on horseback—Both wounded—Gilbert’s horse killed—Chivalrous conclusion 30
Curious fatality in the Hartpole family—Characteristic sketch of the last of the name—Description of Shrewl Castle—The chapel and cemetery—Strictures on Epitaph writing—Eccentricities of the Earl of Aldborough—His lordship proposes his sister, Lady Hannah Stratford, as returning officer for the borough of Baltinglass—Consequent disturbances—The North-Briton put on his mettle, but out-manœuvred—“Lending to the Lord”—Successful conspiracy to marry Hartpole to the daughter of a village inn-keeper—He is stabbed by his wife, and deserts her in consequence—He forms an attachment to Miss Maria Otway, whom he marries, under the plea of his previous connexion being illegal—Unfortunate nature of this union—Separation of the parties—Hartpole’s voyage to Portugal, his return and death—Sundry other anecdotes of the Stratford family 59
Sketch of the character of Mr. Hamilton Rowan—His Quixotic spirit of philanthropy—Case of Mary Neil, taken up by Mr. Rowan—Dinner-club among the briefless barristers of Dublin—Apparition of Mr. Hamilton Rowan and his dog—More frightened than hurt—An unanswerable query—Mr. Rowan’s subsequent adventures—The Rev. Mr. Jackson—He is brought up to receive sentence for high treason, and expires in court 110
An Irish peasant cutting his own head off by mistake—His reputed ghost—Humours of an Irish wakeNatural deaths of the Irish peasantry—Reflections on the excise laws 121
Humorous story of Father O’Leary and a bear—Mistaken notions respecting Ireland on the Continent—Lord Ventry and his tenant: an anecdote characteristic of the Irish peasant 131
Strictures on Dr. Johnson—His biographer, Boswell—False definitions and erroneous ethics—Superstition—Supernatural appearances—Theological argument of the author in favour of his peculiar faith—Original poetry by Miss T * * *—The author purchases Lady Mayo’s demesne, County Wicklow—Terrific and cultivated scenery contrasted—Description of the Golden Belt of Ireland and the beauties of the above-mentioned county—Lord Rossmore—His character—Supernatural incident of a most extraordinary nature, vouched by living witnesses, and attendant on the sudden death of his lordship 138
Remarks on Lady Morgan’s novel of “The Wild Irish Girl,” &c.—Prince O’Sullivan at Killarney—Miss Edgeworth’s “Castle Rackrent”—Memoir of Jonathan Clerk—“Florence Macarthy”—Comparison between Lady Morgan and Thomas Moore as writers—The author’s knowledge of both—“Captain Rock” condemned—The “Irish Melodies” by Moore—The harmonising of them by Sir John Stevenson injurious to the national music—Anecdote of Mr. Thomas Moore and Mrs. K * * * y 156
Poets and poetasters—Major Roche’s extraordinary poem on the battle of Waterloo—“Tears of the British Muse”—French climax of love—A man’s age discovered by his poetry—Evils of a motto—Amorous feelings of youth—Love verses of a boy; of a young man—“Loves of the Angels”—Dinner verses of an Oxonian—“The Highlander,” a poem—Extracts from the poetical manuscripts of Miss Tylden, &c. 168
The author’s early visits to Crow-street Theatre—Interruptions of the University men—College pranks—Old Mr. Sheridan in “Cato” and in “Alexander the Great”—Curious scene introduced, by mistake, in the latter tragedy—Mr. Digges in the Ghost of Hamlet’s father—Chorus of cocks—The author’s preference of comedy to tragedy—Remarks on Mr. Kean and the London moralists—Liston in “Paul Pry”—Old Sparkes—The Spanish débutante—Irish Johnstone—Modern comedy—The French stage 195
Public mis-statements respecting that lady—The author’s long acquaintance with her—Début of Mrs. Jordan, at the Dublin Theatre, as Miss Francis—Her incipient talents at that period—Favourite actresses then in possession of the stage—Theatrical jealousy—Mrs. Daly (formerly Miss Barsanti)—Curious inversion of characters in the opera of “The Governess,” resorted to by the manager to raise the wind—Lieut. Doyne proposes for Miss Francis—His suit rejected from prudential considerations—Miss Francis departs for England—Mr. Owenson, Lady Morgan’s father—Comparison between that performer and Mr. John (commonly called Irish) Johnstone—Introduction of the author to his Royal Highness the Duke of Clarence—Reflections on the scurrilous personalities of the English press—Mrs. Jordan in the green-room, and on the stage—Her remarks on the theatrical art, and on her own style of acting—Her last visit to Dublin, and curious circumstances connected therewith—Mr. Dwyer the actor and Mr. Sergeant Gold—Mrs. Jordan in private society—Extracts from her letters—Her retirement from Bushy and subsequent embarkation for France 211
Decline of Mrs. Jordan’s health—Description of her cottage and grounds at Boulogne-sur-Mer—Madame Ducamp and her servant Agnes—Their account of Mrs. Jordan’s habits and manners—Removal of that lady to Versailles and subsequently to St. Cloud—Account of her illness and last moments 238
Diversity of the author’s pursuits—Superficial acquirements contrasted with solid—Variety and change of study conducive to health—Breeding ideas—How to avoid ennui—The principles of memory and fear—The author’s theory respecting the former, and his motive for its introduction 250
Letter from the author to Mr. Burne, relating to the political conduct of the former at the period of the Union—Extracts from letters written to the author by Lord Westmoreland—General reflections on the political condition of Ireland at the present time—Hint toward the revival of a curious old statute—Clerical justices—The king in Ireland—The Corporation of Dublin—The “Glorious Memory”—Catholics and Protestants—Mischievous virulence of party feeling 258
Peace of 1814—The Bourbons and émigrés generally—Motives of the author in visiting the continent—His departure from England with his family—Arrival at Havre de Grace—The Côteau d’Ingouville—Doctor Sorerie and his graduated scale—The Pavillon Poulet—Price of commodities at Havre—Rate of exchange—English assumption abroad—The author’s rural retirement disturbed by Napoleon’s return from Elba—Circumstances attending the announcement of this fact at Havre—Previous demonstrations of the inhabitants of the town, and more particularly of the military quartered there—Uniform of the old guard—Two Russians mutilated by the mob—Retirement of Louis le Désiré from Paris—Curious variety of feeling manifested among the people at Havre—Policy of the priests—Good humour of all parties—Recruiting for the Emperor and the King—Consternation of the English at Havre—Meeting at the house of the consul, Mr. Stuart—A vinous harangue—Prompt embarkation of the British—Accommodations of a storehouse—The huissiers and the spring showers—Signs of the times 273
A family council—Journey from Havre to Paris—Attention of the French officers to the author and his party—Peaceable condition of the intervening country—Thoughts on revolutions in general—Ireland in 1798—Arrival in the French capital—Admirable state of the police—Henry Thevenot—Misgivings of the author—His interview with Count Bertrand—Polite conduct of the Count—The Emperor’s chapel—Napoleon at mass—His deportment—Treasonable garments—Col. Gowen—Military inspection after mass—Alteration in the manner of the Emperor—Enthusiasm of the soldiers 295
Doctor and Mrs. Marshall—Col. Macirone, aide-de-camp to Joachim Murat, while king of Naples—General Arthur O’Connor—Lord and Lady Kinnaird—His lordship under the surveillance of the police—Suspected of espionage, and arrested, but set at liberty immediately after—Messrs. Hobhouse and Bruce—Dr. Marshall’s correct information as to passing events—Real character of the coterie at his house—Madame la parente du ministre Fouché—Misconception of the minister’s Swiss porter—Henry Thevenot 310
The peers and deputies summoned for the 8th of June—Abduction of the regalia by the royalists—Author obtains a ticket of admission to the gallery of the Chamber of Deputies, to witness the ceremony—Grenadiers of the old guard—Enthusiasm of the military, and comparative quiescence of the other ranks—Entrance of Napoleon into the Chamber—Sketch of his appearance and that of Madame Mère—Administration of the oath of allegiance—The Duke of Otranto and Count Thibaudeau—The imperial speech and its ineffective delivery 322
Apathy of the people—Temporary building in front of the Ecole Militaire—Pont de Jena—Policy of Napoleon regarding Fouché—Procession to the Champ de Mars—Peculiar accoutrements of a regiment of cavalry—Reflections on some points in the history of Napoleon—His mistake in changing the republican into a monarchical government—Coaches of ceremony of the French noblesse and officers of state—The Emperor’s liberality to various members of his court—His personal dejection on this day—Rejoicings succeeding the promulgation—Superiority of the French in matters of embellishment—Gratuitous distribution of provisions and wine—Politeness of the lower orders of French—Display of fireworks—Mr. Hobhouse’s “Second Reign of Napoleon” 345
Rejoicings on Napoleon’s victory over Blucher and surprise of Lord Wellington—Bulletin issued at St. Cloud—Budget of news communicated by a French cockney—Author’s alarm on account of his family—Proposes quitting Paris—Information of Henry Thevenot: confirmed at Lafitte’s—Napoleon’s return from Waterloo—The author’s sources of intelligence—His visits to the Chamber of Deputies—Garat, minister of justice at the period of Louis’s decapitation—The Rousseau Mss. and their peculiar utility to the author—Fouché’s treachery—Vacillating plan to inform Napoleon thereof, through Count Thibaudeau—Observations on the vicissitudes and political extinction of Bonaparte 360
Negotiation between the provisional government of Paris and the allies—Col. Macirone’s mission—The author crosses the barrier of the French army, misses the colonel, and is detained on suspicion—Led before Marshal Davoust, Prince d’Eckmuhl and commander-in-chief of the forces at Vilette—The marshal’s haughty demeanour, and the imprecations of the soldiery—A friend in need; or, one good turn deserves another—Remarks of a French officer on the battle of Waterloo—Account of the physical and moral strength and disposition of the army at Vilette—Return of the parlementaires—Awkward mistake of one of the sentries—Liberation of the author—Marshal Davoust’s expressions to the negotiators 376
Attack on the bridge of Charenton by the Russians—Fouché’s arrangements for the defence of Paris—Bonaparte’s retirement to Malmaison—His want of moral courage—Comparison between Napoleon and Frederick the Great—Extraordinary resolution of the Ex-Emperor to repair to London—Preparations for his undertaking the journey as secretary to Dr. Marshall—The scheme abandoned from dread of treachery on the road to the coast—Termination of the author’s intercourse with Dr. Marshall, and the cause thereof—Remuneration of Col. Macirone by the arch-traitor Fouché 387
Afternoon ramble on the Boulevard Italien—Interrupted by the report of artillery—Sang froid of the fair sex—Female soldiers—The author repairs to a point commanding the field of battle—Site of the projected palace of the King of Rome—Rapidity of the movements of the French as contrasted with those of the Prussians—Blowing up of the bridge of St. Cloud—Visit of the author to the encampment in the Champ de Mars—The wounded soldier 398
Retirement of the army of Vilette behind the Loire—Occupation of the French capital by the allies—Thoughts on the disposition of the Bourbon government towards Great Britain—Conduct of the allies after their possession of Paris—Infringements of the treaty—Removal of the works of art from the Louvre—Reflections on the injurious result of that measure to the British student—Liberal motive operating on the English administration of that period—Little interludes got up between the French King and the allies—Louis the Eighteenth’s magnanimous letters—Threatened destruction of the Pont de Jena by Marshal Blucher—Heroic resolution of His Most Christian Majesty to perish in the explosion 413
The Catacombs of Paris—Ineffective nature of the written description of these as compared with the reality—Author’s descent into them—His speedy return—Contrast presented by the cemetery of Père la Chaise—Tomb of Abelard and Heloise—An English capitalist’s notions of sentiment 423
The author’s efforts to discover the source of his name and family—The Irish herald-at-arms—Reference made by him to the English professor—Heraldic speculation—Ascent of the author’s pedigree to the reign of William the Conqueror—Consultation with the Norman herald suggested—Author’s visit to Rouen—Anecdotes of French convents—Madame Cousin and her system—Traits of toleration—M. Helliot, the celebrated ancien avocat of Rouen—Practice of legal bigamy in Normandy—A breakfast party—Death of M. Helliot—Interview with an old herald, formerly of the noblesse—His person and costume described—Discovery of the town and castle of Barentin—Occurrences there—The old beggar-man—Visit to Jersey, where Drogo de Barentin was killed in defending the castle of Mont Orgueil—Return to Barentin, and singular incident at Ivetot—Conclusion 429



Passion for duelling in Ireland—Ancient duel before the judges and law authorities, &c. &c. at the Castle of Dublin—List of official and judicial duellists in author’s time—Family weapons described—The Fire-eaters’ Society—Their chiefs—Elegant institution of the Knights of Tara—Description of them—Their exhibitions and meetings—The rules of duelling and points of honour established by the fire-eaters, called the Thirty-six Commandments—Singular duel between the author and Mr. Richard Daley, a remarkable duellist and fop—Daley hit—Author’s second the celebrated Balloon Crosby—His singular appearance and character.

It may be objected that anecdotes of duelling have more than their due proportion of space in these sketches, and that no writer should publish feats of that nature (if feats they can be called), especially when performed by persons holding grave offices, or by public functionaries. These are very plausible, rational observations, and are now anticipated for the purpose of being answered.

It might be considered a sufficient excuse, that these anecdotes refer to events long past; that they are amusing, and the more so as being matters of fact, (neither romance nor exaggeration,) and so various that no two of them are at all similar. But a better reason can be given;—namely, that there is no other species of detail or anecdote which so clearly illustrates the character, genius, and manners of a country, as that which exemplifies the distinguishing propensities of its population for successive ages. Much knowledge of a people will necessarily be gained by possessing such a series of anecdotes, and by then going on to trace the decline of such propensities to the progress of civilization in that class of society where they had been prevalent.

As to the objection founded on the rank or profession of the parties concerned, it is only necessary to subjoin the following short abstract from a long list of official duellists who have figured away in my time, and some of them before my eyes.—The number of grave personages who appear to have adopted the national taste, (though in most instances it was undoubtedly before their elevation to the bench that they signalised themselves in single combat,) removes from me all imputation of pitching upon and exposing an unusual frailty; and I think I may challenge any country in Europe to show such an assemblage of gallant judicial and official antagonists at fire and sword as is exhibited even in the following list.[1]

1.  Single combat was formerly a very prevalent and favourite mode of administering justice in Ireland; the letter of that law existed in England; and, not being considered so brutal as bullfights, or other beastly amusements of that nature, it was legally authorised, and frequently performed before the high authorities and their ladies, in the castle-yard of Dublin;—bishops, judges, and other persons of high office, generally honouring the spectacle with their presence.

The last exhibition of that nature I have read of was between two Irish gentlemen, Connor Mac Cormac O’Connor, and Teige Mac Kilpatrick O’Connor. They fought with broadswords and skeens (large knives), in the castle of Dublin, in the presence of the archbishop and all the chief authorities and ladies of rank. They had hewed each other for a full hour, when Mr. Mac Kilpatrick O’Connor happening to miss his footing, Mr. Mac Cormac O’Connor began to cut his head off very expertly with his knife; which, after a good deal of cutting, struggling, and hacking, he was at length so fortunate as to effect; and, having got the head clear off the shoulders, he handed it to the lords justices (who were present), and by whom the head and neck was most graciously received.

Earl Clare, Lord Chancellor of Ireland, fought the Master of the Rolls, the Right Honourable John Philpot Curran, with twelve-inch pistols.

The Earl of Clonmell, Chief Justice of the King’s Bench, fought Lord Tyrawly, about his wife, and the Earl Landaff, about his sister; and others, with sword or pistol, on miscellaneous subjects.

The Judge of the County of Dublin, Egan, fought the Master of the Rolls, Roger Barrett,[2] and three others; one with swords.

2.  On the duel between Judge Egan and Counsellor Roger Barret a curious incident occurred, of hackneyed celebrity, but very illustrative of that volatile eccentricity with which the gravest events were frequently accompanied in that country.

On the combatants taking their ground (secundum consuetudinem), Roger (who was the challenger) immediately fired without much aim, and missing his antagonist, coolly said, “Egan, now my honour is satisfied,” and began to walk away with great stateliness and composure.

The judge, however, (who had not fired,) cried aloud, “Hulloa, Roger—hulloa!—stop—stop, Roger; come back here; stay till I take a shot at your honour!”

Roger obeyed; and with the same composure cried out, “Very well, fire away, Jack.”

Egan presented, and seemed by his motions determined to finish Roger:—at length he cried out, “Pho! pho! I won’t humour you, by G—d! I wouldn’t be bothered shooting you, Roger!—so now you may go to the devil your own road; or shake hands, whichever you like best.”

The finale may be anticipated. This circumstance is truly Irish; it took place on the site of Donnybrook fair, and some hundreds of amateurs were present.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Right Honourable Isaac Corry, fought the Right Honourable Henry Grattan, a privy counsellor, and the chancellor was hit. He also exchanged shots or thrusts with two other gentlemen.

A baron of the exchequer, Baron Medge, fought his brother-in-law and two others—a hit.

The Chief Justice, C. P., Lord Norbury, fought Fire-eater Fitzgerald, and two other gentlemen, muzzle to muzzle, and frightened Napper Tandy and several besides: one hit only.—Napper was near being hanged for running away!

The Judge of the Prerogative Court, Doctor Duigenan, fought one barrister and frightened another on the ground.—The latter case a very curious one.

The First Counsel to the Revenue, Henry Deane Grady, Esq., K. C., fought Counsellor O’Maher, Counsellor Campbell, and others:—very stout work.

The Right Honourable the Master of the Rolls fought Lord Buckinghamshire, (Chief Secretary, &c.) because he would not dismiss an official person.

The Provost of the University of Dublin, the Right Honourable Hely Hutchinson, fought Mr. Doyle, master in Chancery: they went to the plains of Minden to fight!

N.B. The spirit of the Hutchinson family was proverbial, and their good nature was no less so.

The Chief Justice C. P. Patterson fought three country gentlemen, one of them with swords, another with guns, and wounded all of them.

The Right Honourable George Ogle, the Orange chieftain, a privy counsellor, fought Barny Coyle, a whiskey distiller, because he was a papist.—They fired eight shots without stop or stay, and no hit occurred: but Mr. Ogle’s second broke his own arm by tumbling into a potatoe-trench.

Sir Harding Gifford, late Chief Justice of Ceylon, fought the rebel General Bagenal Harvey at a place called the Scalp, near Dublin. The Chief Justice received a severe, but very odd wound.—He eventually, however, suffered no important injury.

Counsellor Dan O’Connell fought the Orange chieftain, who had been halloo’d at him by the corporation. The champion of Protestant ascendancy never rose to fight again.

The Collector of the Customs of Dublin, the Honourable Francis Hutchinson, fought the Right Honourable Lord Mountnorris:—a hit. Cum multis aliis quæ nunc enumerare longum est.

The reader of this dignified list (which, as I have said, is only a very short abridgment[3]) will surely see no great indecorum in an Admiralty Judge having now and then, when required so to do, exchanged broadsides, more especially as they did not militate against the law of nations, and no ghost was the consequence.

3.  Two hundred and twenty-seven memorable duels have actually been fought during my grand climacteric.

However, it must be owned that there were occasionally peaceable and forgiving instances among the barristers.—A brave, thrice-proven, but certainly capricious individual, Mr. Curran, was whipped by a very savage nobleman, Lord Clanmorris; and another eminent barrister was said to have had his eye saluted by a messenger from a gentleman’s lips in the body of the House of Commons.—Yet both those little incivilities were arranged very amicably, and without the aid of any deadly weapon whatsoever, I suppose for variety’s sake. But the people of Dublin used to observe, that a judgment came upon Counsellor O’Callaghan, for having kept his friend, Mr. Curran, quiet in the horse-whipping affair, inasmuch as his own brains were literally scattered about the ground by a Galway attorney very soon after he had turned pacificator.

To speak after the manner of a Bulletin:—“In my time, the number of killed and wounded among the bar was very considerable.—The other learned professions suffered much less.”

It is nearly incredible what a singular passion the Irish gentlemen (though in general excellent-tempered fellows) formerly had for fighting each other and immediately becoming friends again. A duel was indeed considered a necessary piece of a young man’s education, but by no means a ground for any future animosity with his opponent:—on the contrary, proving the bravery of both, it only cemented their friendship.

One of the most humane men existing, an intimate friend of mine, and a prominent and benevolent public character, but who (as the expression then was) had frequently played both “hilt to hilt” and “muzzle to muzzle,” in desperate rencontres, was heard endeavouring to keep a little son of his quiet who was crying for something:—“Come, now, do be a good boy! Come, now,” said my friend, “don’t cry, and I’ll give you a case of nice little pistols to-morrow. Come, now, don’t cry, and we’ll shoot them all in the morning.”—“Oh, yes! yes! papa! we’ll shoot them all in the morning!” responded the child, drying his little eyes and delighted at the notion.

I have heard Sir Charles Ormsby, who affected to be a wit, though at best but a humourist and gourmand, liken the story of my friend and his son to a butcher at Nenagh, who in a similar manner wanted to keep his son from crying, and effectually stopped his tears by saying,—“Come, now, be a good boy! don’t cry, and you shall kill a lamb to-morrow! now, won’t you be good?”—“Oh yes, yes,” said the child, sobbing; “Father, is the lamb ready?”

Within my recollection, this national relish for fighting was nearly universal,—originating (I think) in the spirit and habits of former times. When men had a glowing ambition to excel in all manner of feats and exercises, as their forefathers had done, they naturally conceived that single combat in an honest way (that is, not knowing which would be perforated) was the most chivalrous and gentlemanly of all possible accomplishments; and this idea gave rise to an assiduous cultivation of personal tactics, and dictated laws for carrying them into execution with regularity, honour, and dispatch, among the nobility and gentry of that punctilious nation.

About the year 1777, Fire-eating was in great repute in Ireland. No young fellow could finish his education till he had exchanged shots with some of his friends or acquaintances. The first questions asked as to a young man’s respectability and qualifications (particularly when he proposed for a lady-wife) were, “What family is he of?”—“Did he ever blaze?”—His fortune was then the last inquiry; because the reply was seldom satisfactory.

Tipperary and Galway were the ablest schools of the duelling science. Galway was most scientific at the sword: Tipperary most practical and prized at the pistol: Mayo not amiss at either: Roscommon and Sligo had many professors and a high reputation in the leaden branch of the pastime.

When I was at the university, Jemmy Keogh, Buck English,[4] Cosey Harrison, Crowe Ryan, Reddy Long, Amby Bodkin, Squire Fulton, Squire Blake, Amby Fitzgerald, Terry Magrath, and some others, were supposed to understand the points of honour better than any men in Ireland, and were constantly referred to.—Terry Magrath especially was counted a very good opinion.

4.  The celebrated Buck English was expelled for killing by foul play, and had like to be hanged. The “Fire-eaters” outlawed him.—Foul play was never known to occur in that society—save in this instance. English was saved, on his trial, by one juror holding out against his eleven brethren:—however, as they could not agree, Baron Hamilton ordered them all to be packed in turf kishes, conveyed on cars to the boundary of the county, twenty-seven miles off, and there discharged on foot. At the ensuing assizes all the witnesses against English were duly disposed of—none appeared—and he was acquitted of course.

In the North, the Fallons and the Fentons were the first hands at it; and most counties could then boast their regular point-of-honour men. The late chief justice of the common pleas was supposed to understand the thing as well as any gentleman in Ireland, and was frequently referred to by the high circles.

In truth, these oracles were in general gentlemen of good connexions[5] and most respectable families, otherwise nobody would either fight or consult them.

5.  There was an association in the year 1782, (a volunteer corps) which was called the “Independent Light Horse.” They were not confined to one district, and none could be admitted but the younger brothers of the most respectable families. They were all both “hilt and muzzle adepts;”—and, that no member might set himself up as greater than another, every individual of the corps was obliged, on entering, to give his honour “that he could cover his fortune with the crown of his hat, and had exchanged a shot or thrust before he was ballotted for.”

Roscommon and Sligo then furnished some of the finest young fellows (fire-eaters) I ever saw: their spirit and decorum were equally admirable, and their honour and liberality conspicuous on all occasions.

Every family had then a case of hereditary pistols, which descended as an heir-loom, together with a long silver-hilted sword, for the use of their posterity. Our family pistols, denominated pelters, were brass (I believe my second brother has them still): the barrels were very long and point-blankers. They were included in the armoury of our ancient castle of Ballynakill in the reign of Elizabeth, (the stocks, locks, and hair-triggers were, however, modern,) and had descended from father to son from that period: one of them was named “sweet lips,” the other “the darling.” The family rapier was called “skiver the pullet” by my grand-uncle, Captain Wheeler Barrington, who had fought with it repeatedly and run through different parts of their persons several Scots officers, who had challenged him all at once for some national reflection. It was a very long, narrow-bladed, straight cut-and-thrust, as sharp as a razor, with a silver hilt, and a guard of buff leather inside it. I kept this rapier as a curiosity for some time; but it was stolen during my absence at Temple.

I knew Jemmy Keogh extremely well, when he was pretty old. He was considered in the main a peace-maker, for he did not like any body to fight but himself; and it was universally admitted that he never killed any man who did not well deserve it. He was a plausible, although black-looking fellow, with remarkably thick, long, curled eyebrows closing with a tuft over his nose. He spoke deliberately, reasoned well, and never showed passion. When determined to fight, his brows knit, his eyes fixed, and (as an antagonist) he cut a very unprepossessing figure. I never heard that he was wounded. When he tried to restrain his anger, he set his teeth, kept his tongue a close prisoner, and appeared like one with a locked jaw. No man was more universally known in Ireland. He unfortunately shot a cripple in the Phœnix Park, which, though fair enough, did him great mischief. He was land-agent to Bourke of Glinsk, to whom he always officiated as second.

At length, so many quarrels arose without sufficiently dignified provocation, and so many things were considered as quarrels of course, which were not quarrels at all,—that the principal fire-eaters of the South clearly saw disrepute was likely to be thrown both on the science and its professors, and thought it full time to interfere and arrange matters upon a proper, steady, rational, and moderate footing; and to regulate the time, place, and other circumstances of duelling, so as to govern all Ireland on one principle—thus establishing a uniform, national code of the lex pugnandi; proving, as Hugo Grotius did, that it was for the benefit of all belligerents to adopt the same regulations.

In furtherance of this object, a branch society had been formed in Dublin termed the “Knights of Tara,” which met once a month at the theatre, Capel-street, gave premiums for fencing, and proceeded in the most laudably systematic manner. The amount of admission-money was laid out on silver cups, and given to the best fencers, as prizes, at quarterly exhibitions of pupils and amateurs.

Fencing with the small-sword is certainly a most beautiful and noble exercise: its practice confers a fine, bold, manly carriage, a dignified mien, a firm step, and graceful motion. But, alas! its professors are now supplanted by contemptible groups of smirking quadrillers with unweaponed belts, stuffed breasts, and strangled loins!—a set of squeaking dandies, whose sex may be readily mistaken, or, I should rather say, is of no consequence.

The theatre of the Knights of Tara, on these occasions, was always overflowing:—the combatants were dressed in close cambric jackets, garnished with ribbons, each wearing the favourite colour of his fair one: bunches of ribbons also dangled at their knees, and roses adorned their morocco slippers, which had buff soles, to prevent noise in their lunges. No masks or visors were used as in these more timorous times; on the contrary, every feature was uncovered, and its inflections all visible. The ladies appeared in full morning dresses, each handing his foil to her champion for the day, and their presence animating the singular exhibition. The prizes were handed to the conquerors by the fair ones from the stage-boxes, accompanied each with a wreath of laurel, and a smile then more valued than a hundred victories! The tips of the foils were blackened, and therefore instantly betrayed the hits on the cambric jacket, and proclaimed without doubt the successful combatant. All was decorum, gallantry, spirit, and good temper.

The Knights of Tara also had a select committee to decide on all actual questions of honour referred to them:—to reconcile differences, if possible; if not, to adjust the terms and continuance of single combat. Doubtful points were solved generally on the peaceable side, provided women were not insulted or defamed; but when that was the case, the knights were obdurate, and blood must be seen. They were constituted by ballot, something in the manner of the Jockey Club; but without the possibility of being dishonourable, or the opportunity of cheating each other.

This most agreeable and useful association did not last above two or three years. I cannot tell why it broke up: I rather think, however, the original fire-eaters thought it frivolous, or did not like their own ascendancy to be rivalled. It was said that they threatened direct hostilities against the knights; and I am the more disposed to believe this, because, soon after, a comprehensive code of the laws and points of honour was issued from the Southern fire-eaters, with directions that it should be strictly observed by all gentlemen throughout the kingdom, and kept in their pistol-cases, that ignorance might never be pleaded. This code was not circulated in print, but very numerous written copies were sent to the different county clubs, &c. My father got one for his sons; and I transcribed most of it on some blank leaves. These rules brought the whole business of duelling into a focus, and have been much acted upon down to the present day. They called them in Galway “the thirty-six commandments.”

As far as my copy went, they appear to have run as follows:—

The practice of duelling and points of honour settled at Clonmell summer assizes, 1775, by the gentlemen delegates of Tipperary, Galway, Mayo, Sligo, and Roscommon, and prescribed for general adoption throughout Ireland.

Rule 1.

The first offence requires the first apology, though the retort may have been more offensive than the insult: example;—A tells B he is impertinent, &c. B retorts, that he lies: yet A must make the first apology, because he gave the first offence, and then (after one fire) B may explain away the retort by subsequent apology.

Rule 2.

But if the parties would rather fight on, then, after two shots each, (but in no case before,) B may explain first, and A apologise afterwards.

N.B. The above rules apply to all cases of offences in retort not of a stronger class than the example.

Rule 3.

If a doubt exist who gave the first offence, the decision rests with the seconds: if they won’t decide or can’t agree, the matter must proceed to two shots, or to a hit, if the challenger require it.

Rule 4.

When the lie direct is the first offence, the aggressor must either beg pardon in express terms; exchange two shots previous to apology; or three shots followed up by explanation; or fire on till a severe hit be received by one party or the other.

Rule 5.

As a blow is strictly prohibited under any circumstances amongst gentlemen, no verbal apology can be received for such an insult: the alternatives therefore are—first, the offender handing a cane to the injured party, to be used on his own person, at the same time begging pardon;—second, firing on until one or both are disabled; or thirdly, exchanging three shots, and then asking pardon, without the proffer of the cane.

If swords are used, the parties engage till one is well blooded, disabled, or disarmed; or until, after receiving a wound, and blood being drawn, the aggressor begs pardon.

N.B. A disarm is considered the same as a disable: the disarmer may (strictly) break his adversary’s sword; but if it be the challenger who is disarmed, it is considered as ungenerous to do so.

In case the challenged be disarmed, and refuses to ask pardon or atone, he must not be killed, as formerly; but the challenger may lay his own sword on the aggressor’s shoulder, then break the aggressor’s sword, and say, “I spare your life!” The challenged can never revive that quarrel—the challenger may.

Rule 6.

If A gives B the lie, and B retorts by a blow (being the two greatest offences), no reconciliation can take place till after two discharges each, or a severe hit;—after which, B may beg A’s pardon humbly for the blow, and then A may explain simply for the lie;—because a blow is never allowable, and the offence of the lie therefore merges in it. (See preceding rule.)

N.B. Challenges for undivulged causes may be reconciled on the ground, after one shot. An explanation or the slightest hit should be sufficient in such cases, because no personal offence transpired.

Rule 7.

But no apology can be received, in any case, after the parties have actually taken their ground, without exchange of fires.

Rule 8.

In the above case, no challenger is obliged to divulge his cause of challenge (if private), unless required by the challenged so to do before their meeting.

Rule 9.

All imputations of cheating at play, races, &c. to be considered equivalent to a blow; but may be reconciled after one shot, on admitting their falsehood, and begging pardon publicly.

Rule 10.

Any insult to a lady under a gentleman’s care or protection, to be considered as, by one degree, a greater offence than if given to the gentleman personally, and to be regulated accordingly.

Rule 11.

Offences originating or accruing from the support of ladies’ reputation, to be considered as less unjustifiable than any others of the same class, and as admitting of slighter apologies by the aggressor:—this to be determined by the circumstances of the case, but always favourably to the lady.

Rule 12.

In simple unpremeditated rencontres with the small sword, or couteau-de-chasse the rule is—first draw, first sheath; unless blood be drawn: then both sheath, and proceed to investigation.

Rule 13.

No dumb-shooting or firing in the air admissible in any case. The challenger ought not to have challenged without receiving offence; and the challenged ought, if he gave offence, to have made an apology before he came on the ground: therefore, children’s play must be dishonourable on one side or the other, and is accordingly prohibited.

Rule 14.

Seconds to be of equal rank in society with the principals they attend, inasmuch as a second may either choose or chance to become a principal, and equality is indispensable.

Rule 15.

Challenges are never to be delivered at night, unless the party to be challenged intend leaving the place of offence before morning; for it is desirable to avoid all hot-headed proceedings.

Rule 16.

The challenged has the right to choose his own weapon, unless the challenger gives his honour he is no swordsman; after which, however, he cannot decline any second species of weapon proposed by the challenged.

Rule 17.

The challenged chooses his ground: the challenger chooses his distance: the seconds fix the time and terms of firing.

Rule 18.

The seconds load in presence of each other, unless they give their mutual honours they have charged smooth and single, which should be held sufficient.

Rule 19.

Firing may be regulated—first, by signal; secondly, by word of command; or, thirdly, at pleasure—as may be agreeable to the parties. In the latter case, the parties may fire at their reasonable leisure, but second presents and rests are strictly prohibited.

Rule 20.

In all cases, a miss-fire is equivalent to a shot, and a snap or a non-cock is to be considered as a miss-fire.

Rule 21.

Seconds are bound to attempt a reconciliation before the meeting takes place, or after sufficient firing or hits, as specified.

Rule 22.

Any wound sufficient to agitate the nerves and necessarily make the hand shake, must end the business for that day.

Rule 23.

If the cause of meeting be of such a nature that no apology or explanation can or will be received, the challenged takes his ground, and calls on the challenger to proceed as he chooses: in such cases, firing at pleasure is the usual practice, but may be varied by agreement.

Rule 24.

In slight cases, the second hands his principal but one pistol; but, in gross cases, two, holding another case ready-charged in reserve.

Rule 25.

Where seconds disagree, and resolve to exchange shots themselves, it must be at the same time and at right angles with their principals, thus:—


If with swords, side by side, with five paces interval.

N.B. All matters and doubts not herein mentioned will be explained and cleared up by application to the committee, who meet alternately at Clonmell and Galway, at the quarter-sessions, for that purpose.[6]

Crow Ryan, President,
James Keogh, }
Amby Bodkin,} Secretaries.

6.  The residue of the rules I have found among other papers since the first edition of this book was printed—but they are much defaced. There were eleven or twelve of them only, on points of honour. The rules of combat are all given; and they are full of a pugnacious sophistry, which would scarcely entertain the reader.

Additional Galway Articles.
Rule 1.

No party can be allowed to bend his knee, or cover his side with his left hand; but may present at any level from the foot to the eye.

Rule 2.

None can either advance or retreat, if the ground be measured. If no ground be measured, either party may advance at his pleasure, even to touch muzzle; but neither can advance on his adversary after the fire, unless the adversary step forward on him.

N.B. The seconds on both sides stand responsible for this last rule being strictly observed, bad cases having accrued from neglect of it.

These rules and resolutions of the “Fire-eaters” and “Knights of Tara” were the more deeply impressed on my mind, from my having run a great chance of losing my life, when a member of the university, in consequence of the strict observance of one of them. A young gentleman of Galway, Mr. Richard Daly, then a Templar, had the greatest predilection for single combat of any person (not a society fire-eater) I ever recollect: he had fought sixteen duels in the space of two years; three with swords and thirteen with pistols;—yet, with so little skill or so much good fortune, that not a wound worth mentioning occurred in the course of the whole. This gentleman was called to the Bar; figured afterwards for many years as patentee of the Theatre Royal, Dublin; and had the credit of first introducing that superior woman and actress, Mrs. Jordan, when Miss Francis, on the Dublin boards.

I was surprised one winter’s evening by receiving a written challenge, in the nature of an invitation, from Mr. Daly, to fight him early the ensuing morning. I never had spoken a word to him in my life, and scarcely of him, and no possible cause of quarrel that I could guess existed between us: however, it being then a decided opinion that a first overture of that nature could never be declined, I accepted the invitation without any inquiry; writing, in reply, that as to place, I chose the field of Donnybrook fair as the fittest spot for all sorts of encounters. I had then to look out for a second, and resorted to a person with whom I was very intimate, and who, as he was a curious character, may be worth noticing. He was brother to the unfortunate Sir Edward Crosby, Bart., who was murdered by a court-martial at Carlow, May, 1798. My friend was afterward called “Balloon Crosby,” being the first aeronaut who constructed an Hibernian balloon, and ventured to take a journey into the sky from Ireland (from Ranelagh Gardens).[7]

7.  His second ascent was a most unfortunate one for the spectators. It took place from the Duke of Leinster’s lawn, Merrion-square: the crowds outside were immense, and so many squeezed together and leaned against a thick parapet wall fronting the street, that it yielded to the weight and pressure, and the spectators and parapet wall came tumbling down together a great depth. Several were killed and many disabled; while Crosby sailed quietly over their heads, in all human probability, to be drowned before an hour had expired.

Crosby was of immense stature, being near six feet three inches high: he had a comely-looking, fat, ruddy face, and was, beyond comparison, the most ingenious mechanic I ever knew. He had a smattering of all sciences, and there was scarcely an art or trade of which he had not some practical knowledge. His chambers at college were like a general workshop for all kinds of artisans: he was very good tempered, exceedingly strong, and as brave as a lion—but as dogged as a mule: nothing could change a resolution of his when once made; and nothing could check or resist his perseverance to carry it into execution. He highly approved of my promptness in accepting Daly’s invitation; but I told him that I unluckily had no pistols, and did not know where to procure any against the next morning. This puzzled him: but on recollection, he said he had no complete pistols neither; but he had some old locks, barrels, and stocks, which, as they did not originally belong to each other, he should find it very difficult to make any thing of: nevertheless, he would fall to work directly. He kept me up till late at night in his chambers to help him in filing the old locks and barrels, and endeavouring to patch up two or three of them so as to go off and answer that individual job. Various trials were made: much filing, drilling, and scouring were necessary. However, by two o’clock in the morning we had completed three entire pistols, which, though certainly of various lengths and of the most ludicrous workmanship, struck their fire right well, and that was all we wanted of them,—symmetry (as he remarked) being of no great value upon these occasions.

It was before seven o’clock on the 20th of March, with a cold wind and a sleety atmosphere, that we set out on foot for the field of Donnybrook fair, after having taken some good chocolate and a plentiful draught of cherry-brandy, to keep the cold wind out. On arriving, we saw my antagonist and his friend (Jack Patterson, nephew to the chief justice) already on the ground. I shall never forget Daly’s figure. He was a very fine-looking young fellow, but with such a squint that it was totally impossible to say what he looked at, except his nose, of which he never lost sight. His dress (they had come in a coach) made me ashamed of my own: he wore a pea-green coat; a large tucker with a diamond brooch stuck in it; a three-cocked hat with a gold button-loop and tassels, and silk stockings; and a couteau-de-chasse hung gracefully dangling from his thigh. In fact, he looked as if already standing in a state of triumph, after having vanquished and trampled on his antagonist. I did not half like his steady position, showy surface, and mysterious squint; and I certainly would rather have exchanged two shots with his slovenly friend, Jack Patterson, than one with so magnificent and overbearing an adversary.

My friend Crosby, without any sort of salutation or prologue, immediately cried out “Ground, gentlemen! ground—ground! come, d—n measurement, to work!” and placing me on his selected spot, whispered into my ear “Medio tutissimus ibis: never look at the head or the heels: hip the maccaroni! the hip for ever, my boy! hip, hip!”—when my antagonist’s second, advancing and accosting mine, said, Mr. Daly could not think of going any further with the business; that he found it was totally a mistake on his part, originating through misrepresentation, and that he begged to say he was extremely sorry for having given Mr. Barrington and his friend the trouble of coming out, hoping they would excuse it and shake hands with him. To this arrangement I certainly had no sort of objection; but Crosby, without hesitation, said, “We cannot do that yet sir: I’ll show you we can’t: (taking a little manuscript book out of his breeches pocket,) there’s the rules!—look at that, sir,” continued he, “see No. 7.:—‘No apology can be received after the parties meet, without a fire.’ You see, there’s the rule,” pursued Crosby, with infinite self-satisfaction; “and a young man on his first blood cannot break rule, particularly with a gentleman so used to the sport as Mr. Daly. Come, gentlemen, proceed! proceed!”

Daly appeared much displeased, but took his ground, without speaking a word, about nine paces from me. He presented his pistol instantly, but gave me most gallantly a full front.

It being, as Crosby said, my first blood, I lost no time, but let fly without a single second of delay, and without taking aim: Daly staggered back two or three steps; put his hand to his breast; cried, “I’m hit, sir!” and did not fire. Crosby gave me a slap on the back which staggered me, and a squeeze of the hand which nearly crushed my fingers. We got round him: his waistcoat was opened, and a black spot, about the size of a crown-piece, with a little blood, appeared directly on his breast-bone. I was greatly shocked: fortunately, however, the ball had not penetrated; but his brooch had been broken, and a piece of the setting was sticking fast in the bone. Crosby stamped, cursed the damp powder or under-loading, and calmly pulled out the brooch: Daly said not a word; put his cambric handkerchief doubled to his breast, and bowed. I returned the salute, extremely glad to get out of the scrape, and so we parted without conversation or ceremony; save that when I expressed my wish to know the cause of his challenging me, Daly replied that he would now give no such explanation, and his friend then produced his book of rules, quoting No. 8.:—“If a party challenged accept the challenge without asking the reason of it, the challenger is never bound to divulge it afterward.”

My friend Crosby, as I have mentioned, subsequently attempted to go off from Dublin to England in a balloon of his own making, and dropped between Dublin and Holyhead into the sea, but was saved. The poor fellow some time after went abroad, and was supposed to have died far too early for friendship,—which he was eminently capable of exciting. I never saw two persons in face and figure more alike than Crosby and my friend Daniel O’Connell: but Crosby was the taller by two inches, and it was not so easy to discover that he was an Irishman.[8]

8.  It has since been discovered that death did not master him for many years after this report. His history is not a common one. I have lately received a considerable quantity of documents and Mss. collected or written during the period he was supposed to be dead, and at many different places, till a late day. Most of them are to me utterly unintelligible; but there is sufficient to furnish matter for one of the most curious memoirs that can be conceived, and altogether novel. So multifarious, however, are the materials, that I fear their due arrangement would be quite beyond my powers.


Frequency of election-duels—Ludicrous affair between Frank Skelton and an exciseman—Frank shoots the exciseman and runs away—His curious reasons—Sir J. Bourke’s quadrille duel, with five hits—Mr. H. D. G * * * y’s remarkable meeting with Counsellor O’Maher—O’Maher hit—Civil proposition of G * * *’s second—G * * *’s gallant letter to the author on his election for Maryborough—Honourable Barry Yelverton challenged by nine officers at once—His elucidation of the Fire-eaters’ Resolutions—Lord Kilkenny’s memorable duels and law-suits—His Lordship is shot by Mr. Ball, an attorney—The heir to his title (the Hon. Somerset Butler) challenges Counsellor Burrowes—The latter hit, but his life saved by some gingerbread nuts—Lord Kilkenny’s duel with Counsellor Byrne—The counsellor wounded—Counsellor Guinness escapes a rencontre—Sketch of Counsellor M‘Nally—His duel with the author—His three friends: all afterward hanged—M‘Nally wounded—Bon-mot of Mr. Harding—The affair highly beneficial to M‘Nally—His character, marriage, and death—Ancient mode of fighting duels—The lists described—Duel of Colonel Barrington with Squire Gilbert on horseback—Both wounded—Gilbert’s horse killed—Chivalrous conclusion.

Our elections were more prolific in duels than any other public meetings: they very seldom originated at a horse-race, cock-fight, hunt, or at any place of amusement: folks then had pleasure in view, and “something else to do” than to quarrel: but at all elections, or at assizes, or, in fact, at any place of business, almost every man, without any very particular or assignable reason, immediately became a violent partisan, and frequently a furious enemy to somebody else; and gentlemen often got themselves shot before they could tell what they were fighting about.

At an election for Queen’s County, between General Walsh and Mr. Warburton, of Garryhinch, about the year 1783, took place the most curious duel of any which occurred within my recollection. A Mr. Frank Skelton, one of the half-mounted gentlemen described in the early part of the first volume,—a boisterous, joking, fat young fellow, called a harmless blackguard,—was prevailed on, much against his grain, to challenge Roberts, the exciseman of the town, for running the butt-end of a horse-whip down his throat the night before, while he sat drunk and sleeping with his mouth open. The exciseman insisted that snoring at a dinner-table was a personal offence to every gentleman in company, and would therefore make no apology.

Frank, though he had been nearly choked, was very reluctant to fight; he said “he was sure to die if he did, as the exciseman could snuff a candle with his pistol-ball; and as he himself was as big as a hundred dozen of candles, what chance could he have?” We told him jocosely to give the exciseman no time to take aim at him, by which means he might perhaps hit his adversary first, and thus survive the contest. He seemed somewhat encouraged and consoled by the hint, and most strictly did he adhere to it.

Hundreds of the towns-people went to see the fight on the green of Maryborough. The ground was regularly measured; and the friends of each party pitched a ragged tent on the green, where whiskey and salt beef were consumed in abundance. Skelton having taken his ground, and at the same time two heavy drams from a bottle his foster-brother had brought, appeared quite stout till he saw the balls entering the mouths of the exciseman’s pistols, which shone as bright as silver, and were nearly as long as fusils. This vision made a palpable alteration in Skelton’s sentiments: he changed colour, and looked about him as if he wanted some assistance. However, their seconds, who were of the same rank and description, handed to each party his case of pistols, and half-bellowed to them—“blaze away, boys!”

Skelton now recollected his instructions, and lost no time: he cocked both his pistols at once; and as the exciseman was deliberately and most scientifically coming to his “dead level,” as he called it, Skelton let fly.

“Holloa!” said the exciseman, dropping his level, “I’m battered, by J—s!”

“Oh! the devil’s cure to you!” said Skelton, instantly firing his second pistol.

One of the exciseman’s legs then gave way, and down he came on his knee, exclaiming, “Holloa! holloa! you blood-thirsty villain! do you want to take my life?”

“Why, to be sure I do!” said Skelton. “Ha! ha! have I stiffened you, my lad?” Wisely judging, however, that if he staid till the exciseman recovered his legs, he might have a couple of shots to stand, he wheeled about, took to his heels, and got away as fast as possible. The crowd shouted; but Skelton, like a hare when started, ran the faster for the shouting.

Jemmy Moffit, his own second, followed, overtook, tripped up his heels, and cursing him for a disgraceful rascal, asked “why he ran away from the exciseman?”

“Ough thunther!” said Skelton, “how many holes did the villain want to have drilled into his carcase? Would you have me stop to make a riddle of him, Jemmy?”

The second insisted that Skelton should return to the field, to be shot at. He resisted, affirming that he had done all that honour required. The second called him “a coward!”

“By my sowl,” returned he, “my dear Jemmy Moffit, may be so! you may call me a coward, if you please; but I did it all for the best.”

“The best? you blackguard!”

“Yes,” said Frank: “sure it’s better to be a coward than a corpse! and I must have been either one or t’other of them.”

However, he was dragged up to the ground by his second, after agreeing to fight again, if he had another pistol given him. But, luckily for Frank, the last bullet had stuck so fast between the bones of the exciseman’s leg that he could not stand. The friends of the latter then proposed to strap him to a tree, that he might be able to shoot Skelton; but this being positively objected to by Frank, the exciseman was carried home: his first wound was on the side of his thigh, and the second in his right leg; but neither proved at all dangerous.

The exciseman, determined on gauging Frank, as he called it, on his recovery challenged Skelton in his turn. Skelton accepted the challenge, but said he was tould he had a right to choose his own weapons. The exciseman, knowing that such was the law, and that Skelton was no swordsman, and not anticipating any new invention, acquiesced. “Then,” said Skelton, “for my weapons, I choose my fists: and, by the powers, you diabolical exciseman, I’ll give you such a basting that your nearest relations shan’t know you.” Skelton insisted on his right, and the other not approving of this species of combat, got nothing by his challenge; the affair dropped, and Skelton triumphed.

The only modern instance I recollect to have heard of as applicable to No. 25., (refer to the regulations detailed in last sketch,) was that of old John Bourke, of Glinsk, and Mr. Amby Bodkin. They fought near Glinsk, and the old family steward and other servants brought out the present Sir John, then a child, and held him upon a man’s shoulder, to see papa fight. On that occasion, both principals and seconds engaged: they stood at right angles, ten paces distant, and all began firing together on the signal of a pistol discharged by an umpire. At the first volley, the two principals were touched, though very slightly. The second volley told better;—both the seconds, and Amby Bodkin, Esq. staggered out of their place: they were well hit, but no lives lost. It was, according to custom, an election squabble.

The Galway rule, No. 2., was well exemplified in a duel between an old and very particular friend of mine and a Counsellor O’Maher, who had given offence, yet I believe was the challenger: no ground was measured; they fired ad libitum. G., never at a loss upon such occasions, took his ground at once, and kept it steadily. O’Maher began his career at a hundred paces distance, advancing obliquely, and gradually contracting his circle round his opponent, who continued changing his front by corresponding movements; both parties now and then aiming, as feints, then taking down their pistols. This pas de deux lasted more than half an hour, as I have been informed:—at length, when the assailant had contracted his circle to firing distance, G. cried out, suddenly and loudly: O’Maher obeyed the signal, and instantly fired: G. returned the shot, and the challenger reeled back hors de combat.

On the same occasion, Mr. O’Maher’s second said to G.’s, (the famous Counsellor Ned Lysight,) “Mr. Lysight, take care:—your pistol is cocked!”—“Well, then,” said Lysight, “cock yours, and let me take a slap at you, as we are idle!” However, this proposition was not acceded to.

There could not be a greater game-cock (the Irish expression for a man of determined courage) than my friend G—. That he was not only spirited himself, but the cause of infusing spirit into others, will appear from the following humorous letter which I received from him during my contested election for Maryborough. That election gave rise to many characteristic Irish adventures, for which this volume does not afford compass. Lord Castlecoote, the returning officer, (himself also a joint proprietor,) evinced an excessive horror of becoming acquainted with the reporters. Some person having jocularly told him of my friend’s letter, it became a subject of great amusement, and afforded a variety of anecdotes for the Honourable Robert Moore, who supported me on that election against his brother, the Marquis of Drogheda.

“Dublin, Jan. 29th, 1800.

“My dear Jonah,

“I have this moment sent to the mail coach-office two bullet-moulds, not being certain which of them belongs to the reporters: suspecting, however, that you may not have time to melt the lead, I also send half-a-dozen bullets, merely to keep you going while others are preparing.

“I lament much that my situation and political feeling prevent me from seeing you exhibit at Maryborough.

“Be bold, wicked, steady, and fear nought!

“Give a line to yours, truly,
“H. D. G.

“Jonah Barrington, Esq.”

I took his advice:—our friendship was long and close; and we never (that I am aware of) had any cause for coolness.

There could not be a better elucidation of Rule No. 5. of the code of honour, than an anecdote of Barry Yelverton, second son of Lord Avonmore, baron of the exchequer.—Barry was rather too odd a fellow to have been accounted at all times perfectly compos mentis. He was a barrister. In a ball-room on circuit, where the officers of a newly arrived regiment had come to amuse themselves and set the Munster lasses agog, Barry, having drunk too many bumpers, let out his natural dislike to the military, and most grossly insulted several of the officers; abusing one, treading on the toes of another, jostling a third, and so forth, till he had got through the whole regiment. Respect for the women, and the not choosing to commit themselves with the black gowns on the first day of their arrival, induced the insulted parties to content themselves with only requiring Barry’s address, and his hour of being seen the next morning. Barry, with great satisfaction, gave each of them his card, but informed them that sending to him was unnecessary;—that he was his own second, and would meet every man of them at eight o’clock next morning, in the ball-room; concluding by desiring them to bring their swords, as that was always his weapon. Though this was rather a curious rendezvous, yet, the challenged having the right to choose his weapon, and the place being à propos, the officers all attended next day punctually, with the surgeon of the regiment and a due proportion of small-swords, fully expecting that some of his brother gownsmen would join in the rencontre. On their arrival, Barry requested to know how many gentlemen had done him the honour of giving him the invitation, and was told their names, amounting to nine. “Very well, gentlemen,” said Yelverton, “I am well aware I abused some of you, and gave others an offence equivalent to a blow,—which latter being the greatest insult, we’ll dispose of those cases first, and I shall return in a few minutes fully prepared.”

They conceived he had gone for his sword, and friends. But Barry soon after returned alone, and resumed thus:—“Now, gentlemen, those to each of whom I gave an equivalent to a blow will please step forward.” Four of them accordingly did so, when Barry took from under his coat a bundle of switches, and addressed them as follows:—“Gentlemen, permit me to have the honour of handing each of you a switch, (according to the rule No. 5. of the Tipperary Resolutions,) wherewith to return the blow, if you feel any particular desire to put that extremity into practice. I fancy, gentlemen, that settles four of you; and as to the rest, here, (handing one of his cards to each, with I beg your pardon written above his name) that’s agreeable to No. 1. (reading the Rule). Now I fancy all your cases are disposed of; and having done my duty according to the Tipperary Resolutions, which I will never swerve from,—if, gentlemen, you are not satisfied, I shall be on the bridge to-morrow morning, with a case of barking-irons.” The officers stared, first at him, then at each other: the honest, jolly countenance and drollery of Barry were quite irresistible; first a smile of surprise, and then a general laugh, took place, and the catastrophe was their asking Barry to dine with them at the mess, where his eccentricity and good humour delighted the whole regiment. The poor fellow grew quite deranged at last, and died, I believe, in rather unpleasant circumstances.

The late Lord Mount Garret (afterward Earl of Kilkenny) had for several years a great number of law-suits on his hands at once, particularly with some insolvent tenants, whose causes had been gratuitously taken up by Mr. Ball, an attorney;—Mr. William Johnson and several other gentlemen of the circuit took their briefs. His Lordship was dreadfully tormented. He was naturally a very clever man, and devised a new mode of carrying on his law-suits, not being able, as he said, to trust his attorney out of his sight.

He engaged a clientless attorney, named Egan, as his working solicitor, at a very liberal yearly stipend, upon the express terms of his undertaking no other business whatsoever, and holding his office solely in his Lordship’s own house and under his own eye and direction. His Lordship applied to Mr. Fletcher (afterward judge) and to myself, requesting an interview; whereupon, he informed us of his situation: that there were generally eight or ten counsel pitted against him; but that he would have much more reliance on the advice and punctual attendance of two certain, than of ten straggling gentlemen; and that, under the full conviction that one of us at least would always attend the court when his causes were on, and not leave him in the lurch as he had been left, he had directed his attorney to mark on our two briefs ten times the amount of what the fees should be on the other side: “Because,” said his Lordship, “if you don’t attend, to a certainty I must engage ten counsel, as well as my opponents.” The singularity of the proposal set us laughing, in which his Lordship joined.

Fletcher and I accepted the offer: we did punctually and zealously attend these numerous trials, and were most liberally feed; but most unsuccessful in our efforts; for we never were able to gain a single cause, verdict, or motion, for our client.

The principle of strict justice certainly was with his Lordship; but certain formalities of the law were decidedly against him: he had, in fact, adopted an obsolete mode of proceeding as a short cut: thus, perceiving himself likely to be foiled, he determined to take another course, quite out of our line, and a course whereby no suit is decided in modern days—namely fight it out, “muzzle to muzzle,” with the attorney and all the counsel on the other side.

The first procedure on this determination was a direct challenge from his Lordship to the attorney, Mr. Ball: it was accepted, and a duel immediately followed, in which his Lordship got the worst of it. He was wounded by the attorney at each shot, the first taking place in his Lordship’s right arm, which probably saved the solicitor, as his Lordship was a most accurate marksman. The noble challenger received the second bullet in his side, but the wound was not dangerous. The attorney’s skin remained quite whole.

My Lord and the attorney having been thus disposed of for the time being, the Honourable Somerset Butler (his Lordship’s son) now took the field, and proceeded, according to due form, by a challenge to Mr. Peter Burrowes, &c., the senior of the adversaries’ counsel (now judge commissioner of insolvents). The invitation not being refused, the combat took place, one chilly morning, near Kilkenny. Somerset knew his business well; but Peter had had no practice whatever in that line of litigation—being good tempered and peaceable.

Few persons feel too warm on such occasions, of a cold morning, and Peter formed no exception to the general rule. An old woman who sold spiced gingerbread nuts in the street they passed through accosted the party, extolling her nuts to the very skies, as being well spiced, and fit to expel the wind, and to warm any gentleman’s stomach and bowels as well as a dram. Peter bought a pennyworth on the advice of his second, Dick Waddy, an eminent attorney, and duly receiving the change of a sixpenny-piece, marched off to the scene of action munging his gingerbread.

Preliminaries being soon arranged—the pistols given—ten steps measured—the flints hammered—and the feather-springs set—Somerset, a fine dashing young fellow, full of spirit, activity, and animation, after making a few graceful attitudes, and slapping his arms together as hackney-coachmen do in frosty weather, to make their fingers supple—gave elderly Peter (who was no posture-master) but little time to take his fighting position:—in fact, he had scarcely raised his pistol to a wabbling level, before Somerset’s ball came crack-dash against Peter’s body! The halfpence rattled in his pocket: Peter dropped; Somerset fled; Dick Waddy roared “murder,” and called out to Surgeon Pack. Peter’s clothes were ripped up; and Pack, secundum artem, examined the wound:—something like a black hole designated the spot where the lead had penetrated the abdomen. The doctor shook his head, and pronounced but one short word—“mortal!”—it was, however, more expressive than a long speech. Peter groaned; his friend Waddy began to think about the coroner; his brother barristers sighed heavily, and Peter was supposed to be departing this world (but, as they all endeavoured to persuade him, for a better);—when Surgeon Pack, after another fatal, taking leave of Peter, and leaning his hand on the grass to assist him in rising, felt something hard, took it up, and looked at it curiously: the spectators closed in the circle, to see Peter die; the patient turned his expiring eyes toward Surgeon Pack, as much as to say—“Good bye to you all, lads!”—when lo! the doctor held up to the astonished assembly the identical bullet, which, having rattled among the heads and harps, and gingerbread nuts, in Peter’s waistcoat-pocket, had flattened its own body on the surface of a copper, and left His Majesty’s bust distinctly imprinted and accurately designated, in black and blue shading, on his subject’s carcase! Peter’s heart beat high; and finding that his Gracious Sovereign, and the gingerbread, had saved his life, lost as little time as possible in rising from the sod: a bandage was applied round his body, and in a short time he was able (though of course he had no reason to be over-willing) to begin another combat.[9]

His Lordship having now, on his part, recovered from the attorney’s wounds, considered it high time to recommence hostilities according to his original plan of the campaign; and the engagement immediately succeeding was between him and the late Counsellor John Byrne, king’s counsel, and next in rotation of his learned adversaries.

His Lordship was much pleased with the spot upon which his son had chosen to hit Counsellor Peter, and resolved to select the same for a hit on Counsellor John. The decision appeared to be judicious; and, as if the pistol itself could not be ignorant of its destination, and had been gratified at its own previous accuracy and success, (for it was the same,) it sent a bullet in the identical level, and Counsellor Byrne’s carcase received a precisely similar compliment with Counsellor Burrowes’s:—with this difference; that as the former had no gingerbread nuts, the matter appeared more serious. I asked him during his illness how he felt when he received the crack? he answered, just as if he had been punched by the mainmast of a man of war!—certainly a grand simile; but how far my friend Byrne was enabled to form the comparison he never divulged to me.

9.  Mr. Peter Burrowes, K. C., was my old friend and schoolfellow. He was one of those persons whom every body likes:—there never was a better hearted man! We were at Temple together.

My Lord having got through two counsellors, and his son a third, it became the duty of Captain Pierce Butler (brother to Somerset) to take his turn in the lists. The barristers now began not much to relish this species of argument; and a gentleman who followed next but one on the list owned fairly to me, that he would rather be on our side of the question: but it was determined by our noble client, so soon as the first series of combats should be finished, to begin a new one, till he and the lads had tried the mettle or “touched the inside” of all the remaining barristers. Mr. Dick Guinness, a very good-humoured, popular, lisping,[10] dapper little pleader, was next on the list; and the Honourable Pierce Butler, his intended slaughterer, was advised, for variety’s sake, to put what is called the onus on that gentleman, and thereby force him to become the challenger,—which he was told by a young parson would considerably diminish the crime of killing him.

10.  Lord Clare (when attorney-general) coming out of the Exchequer, which was much crowded, was asked who was speaking. “Speaking!” said Fitzgibbon; “nobody—Dick Guinness is whistling a demurrer.”

Dick’s friends kindly and candidly informed him that he could have but little chance—the Honourable Pierce being one of the most resolute of a courageous family, and quite an undeviating marksman: that he had, besides, a hot, persevering, thirsty spirit, which a little fighting would never quench: and as Dick was secretly informed that he would to a certainty be forced to battle (it being his turn), and his speedy dissolution being nearly as certain, he was recommended to settle all his worldly concerns without delay.

But it was to be otherwise.—Providence took Dick’s part, and decided that there should be no coroner’s inquest held on his body. The Honourable Pierce injudiciously put his onus (and rather a wicked one) on Dick in open court before the judge; an uproar ensued, and the Honourable Pierce hid himself under the table: however, the sheriff lugged him out, and prevented that encounter effectually; Pierce with great difficulty escaping immediate incarceration on giving his honour never to meddle with Dick, his members, or appurtenances, for three years, commencing from the day of his onus. This was an interruption which the Kilkenny family could not have foreseen; and at length his Lordship, finding that neither the laws of the land, nor those of battle, were likely to adjust affairs to his satisfaction, suffered them to be terminated by the three duels already narrated.

Counsellor Leonard M‘Nally, well known both at the English and Irish bars, and in the dramatic circles as author of that popular little piece “Robin Hood,” &c., was one of the strangest fellows in the world. His figure was ludicrous: he was very short, and nearly as broad as long: his legs were of unequal length, and he had a face which no washing could clean: he wanted one thumb, the absence of which gave rise to numerous expedients on his part; and he took great care to have no nails, as he regularly eat every morning the growth of the preceding day: he never wore a glove, lest he should appear to be guilty of duplicity in concealing the want of thumb. When in a hurry, he generally took two thumping steps with the short leg, to bring up the space made by the long one;—and the bar, who never missed a favourable opportunity of naming people, called him “one pound two.” As being a poet, the bar wags termed him “Olympus.” He possessed, however, a fine eye, and by no means an ugly countenance; a great deal of middling intellect; a shrill, full, good forensic voice; great quickness at cross examination, with sufficient adroitness at defence; and in Ireland he was both the staff and standing-dish of the criminal jurisdictions: in a word, M‘Nally was a good-natured, hospitable, talented, dirty fellow, and had, by the latter qualification, so disgusted the circuit bar, that they refused to receive him at their mess—a cruelty I set my face against, and every summer circuit endeavoured to vote him into the mess, but always ineffectually; his neglect of his person, the shrillness of his voice, and his low solicitor company, being assigned as reasons which never could be got over.

M‘Nally had done something in the great cause of Napper and Dutton, which brought him into still further disrepute with the bar. Anxious to regain his station by some act equalising him with his brethren, he determined to offend or challenge some of the most respectable members of the profession, who, however, showed no inclination to oblige him in that way. He first tried his hand with Counsellor * * *, a veteran of the bar, but who, upon this occasion, according to the decision of his fellows, refused the combat. M‘Nally, who was as intrepid as possible, by no means despaired, and was so obliging as to honour me with the next chance; in furtherance thereof, on very little provocation, to my surprise, and by no means to my satisfaction, gave me the retort not courteous in the Court of King’s Bench.

I was well aware of his object; and, not feeling comfortable under this public insult, told him (taking out my watch), “M‘Nally, you shall meet me in the Park in an hour.”

The little fellow’s eyes sparkled with pleasure at the invitation: never, perhaps, was any person so rejoiced at a good chance of going out of the world before dinner time. He instantly replied, “In half an hour, if you please,” comparing, at the same moment, his watch with mine:—“I hope you won’t disappoint me,” continued he.

“Never fear, Mac,” answered I, “there’s not a gentleman at the bar will be ashamed to fight you to-morrow, provided you live so long, which I can’t promise;—though I confess I wish you had selected some other of your friends for so very disagreeable an operation.”

We had no time to spare, so parted, to get ready. The first man I met was Mr. Henry Harding, a huge, wicked, fighting King’s County attorney.—I asked him to come out with me: to him it was “fine sport.” I also summoned Rice Gibbon, a surgeon, who being the most ostentatious fellow imaginable, brought an immense bag of surgical instruments, &c. from Mercers Hospital. In forty-five minutes we were regularly posted in the middle of the review-ground in the Phœnix-park, and the whole scene, to any person not so seriously implicated, must have been irresistibly ludicrous. The sun shone brightly; and Surgeon Gibbon, to lose no time in case of a hit, spread out all his polished instruments, dissecting-knives, forceps, scalpels, saws, tourniquets, probes of all lengths, &c., on the grass, glittering in the light on one side of me. I am sure it looked more like a regimental preparation before a battle, than for an individual encounter:—every thing was ranged in surgical order, ready for the most desperate operations; while a couple of young pupils from Mercers Hospital unfurled their three-tailed bandages like so many streamers. My second having stepped nine paces, then stood at the other side, handed me a case of pistols, and desired me to “work away by J——s.”—M‘Nally stood before me, very like a beer-barrel on its stilling, and by his side were ranged three unfortunate barristers, who were all soon afterward hanged and beheaded for high-treason;—namely, John Sheers, (who was his second, and had given him his point-blanks,) with Henry Sheers and Bagenal Harvey, who came as amateurs. Both of the latter, I believe, were amicably disposed, but a negociation would not be admitted by M‘Nally, (to whom it was of great consequence to fight a King’s Counsel,) and to it we went. M‘Nally presented so coolly, that I could plainly see I had but little chance of being missed, so I thought it best to lose no time on my part. The poor fellow staggered, and cried out, “I am hit!” and I felt some little twitch myself, which I could not at the moment account for. Never did I experience so miserable a feeling. He had received my ball directly in the centre of his ribs. My doctor rushed at him with the zeal and activity of a dissecting surgeon, and in one moment, with a long knife, which he thrust eagerly into his waistband, ripped up his clothes to the skin, and exposed his naked carcase to the bright sun.

The ball appeared to have hit the buckle of his suspenders (vulgariter, gallows), by which it had been partially impeded, and had turned round, instead of entering his paunch. While I was still in dread as to the result, my second, after seeing that he had been so protected by the suspenders, inhumanly exclaimed, “By J—, Mac, you are the only rogue I ever knew that was saved by the gallows!”—I felt quite happy that he was not dangerously hurt.

On returning home, I found I had not got off quite so well as I thought; the skirt of my coat was perforated on both sides, and a scratch just enough to break the skin had taken place on both my thighs. I did not know this while on the ground, but it accounts for the twitch I spoke of.

My opponent soon recovered, and after the precedent of being wounded by a King’s Counsel, no barrister could afterward decently refuse to give him satisfaction. He was, therefore, no longer insulted, and the poor fellow has often told me since that my shot was his salvation. He subsequently got Curran to bring us together at his house, and a more zealous partisan I never had than M‘Nally proved himself, on my contest for the city of Dublin, during which he did me good service.

Leonard was a great poetaster; and having fallen in love with a Miss Ianson, daughter to a very rich attorney, of Bedford-row, London, he wrote on her the celebrated song of “The Lass of Richmond Hill” (her father had a lodge there). She could not withstand this, and returned his flame. This young lady was absolutely beautiful, but quite a slattern in her person. She likewise had a turn for versification, and was therefore altogether well adapted to her lame lover, particularly as she never could spare time from her poetry to wash her hands; a circumstance in which M‘Nally was sympathetic. The father, however, notwithstanding all this, refused his consent; and consequently, M‘Nally took advantage of his dramatic knowledge, by adopting the precedent of Barnaby Brittle, and bribed a barber to lather old Ianson’s eyes as well as his chin, and with something rather sharper too than Windsor soap. Slipping out of the room, while her father was getting rid of the lather and the smart, this Sappho, with her limping Phaon, escaped, and were united in the holy bands of matrimony the same evening; and she continued making, and M‘Nally correcting, verses, till it pleased God to call his angel away. This curious couple conducted themselves, both generally and toward each other, extremely well, after their union. Old Ianson partly forgave them, and made some settlement upon their children.

The ancient mode of duelling in Ireland was generally on horseback. The combatants gallopped past each other, at a distance marked out by posts which prevented a nearer approach: they were at liberty to fire at any time from the commencement to the end of their course; but it must be at a hand-gallop: their pistols were charged alike with a certain number of bullets, slugs, or whatever was most convenient, as agreed.

There had been, from time immemorial, a spot marked out on level ground near the Doone of Clapook, Queen’s County, on the estate of my grand-uncle, Sir John Byrne, which I have often visited as classic ground. It was beautifully situated, near Stradbally; and here, according to tradition and legendary tales, the old captains and chieftains used to meet and decide their differences. Often did I walk it over, measuring its dimensions step by step. The bounds of it are still palpable, above sixty or seventy steps long, and about forty wide: large stones remain on the spot where, I suppose, the posts originally stood to divide the combatants, which were about eight or nine yards asunder—being the nearest point from which they were to fire. The time of firing was voluntary, so as it occurred during their course, and, as before stated, in a hand-gallop. If the quarrel was not terminated in one course, the combatants proceeded to a second; and if it was decided to go on after their pistols had been discharged, they then either finished with short broad-swords on horseback, or with small-swords on foot; but the tradition ran, that when they fought with small-swords, they always adjourned to the rock of Donamese, the ancient fortress of the O’Moors and the Princes of Offely. This is the most beautiful inland ruin I have seen in Ireland. There, in the centre of the old fort, on a flat green sod, are still visible the deep indentures of the feet both of principals, who have fought with small rapiers, and their seconds: every modern visitor naturally stepping into the same marks, the indentures are consequently kept up; and it is probable that they will be deeper a hundred years hence than they were a twelvemonth ago.

My grandfather, Colonel Jonah Barrington, of Cullenaghmore, had a great passion for hearing and telling stories of old events, particularly respecting duels and battles fought in his own neighbourhood, or by his relatives: and as these were just adapted to make impression on a very young curious mind, like mine, at the moment nearly a carte blanche, (the Arabian Nights, for instance, read by a child, are never forgotten by him,) I remember, as if they were told yesterday, many of his recitals and traditionary tales, especially those he could himself attest; and his face bore, to the day of his death, ample proof that he had not been idle among the combatants of his own era. The battle I remember best, because I heard it oftenest and through a variety of channels, was one of my grandfather’s, about the year 1759. He and a Mr. Gilbert had an irreconcilable grudge. (I forget the cause, but I believe it was a very silly one.) It increased every day, and the relatives of both parties found it must inevitably end in a combat, which, were it postponed till the sons of each grew up, might be enlarged perhaps from an individual into a regular family engagement. It was therefore thought better that the business should be ended at once; and it was decided that they should fight on horseback on the green of Maryborough; that the ground should be one hundred yards of race, and eight of distance; the weapons of each, two holster pistols, a broad-bladed but not very long sword (I have often seen my grandfather’s,) with basket handle, and a skeen, or long broad-bladed dagger: the pistols to be charged with one ball and swan-drops.

The entire country, for miles round, attended to see the combat, which had been six months settled and publicly announced, and the county-trumpeter, who attended the judges at the assizes, was on the ground. My grandfather’s second was a Mr. Lewis Moore, of Cremorgan, whom I well recollect to have seen—he long survived my grandfather: Gilbert’s was one of his own name and family—a captain of cavalry.

All due preliminaries being arranged, the country collected and placed as at a horse-race, and the ground kept free by the gamekeepers and huntsmen mounted, the combatants started, and gallopped toward each other. Both fired before they reached the nearest spot, and missed. The second course was more fortunate. My grandfather received many of Gilbert’s shot full in his face: the swan-drops penetrated no deeper than his temple and cheek-bones; the large bullet luckily passed him. The wounds, not being dangerous, only enraged old Jonah Barrington; and the other being equally willing to continue the conflict, a fierce battle, hand to hand, ensued: but I should think they did not close totally, or they could not have escaped with life.

My grandfather got three cuts, which he used to exhibit with great glee; one on the thick of the right arm, a second on his bridle-arm, and the third on the outside of the left hand. His hat, which he kept to the day of his death, was also sliced in several places; but both had iron skull-caps under their hats, which probably saved their brains from remaining upon the green of Maryborough.

Gilbert had received two pokes from my grandfather on his thigh and his side, but neither disabling. I fancy he had the best of the battle, being as strong as, and less irritable than, my grandfather, who, I suspect, grew, toward the last, a little ticklish on the subject; for he rushed headlong at Gilbert, closed, and instead of striking at his person, thrust his broad-sword into the horse’s body as often as he could, until the beast dropped with his rider underneath him: my grandfather then leaped off his horse, threw away his sword, and putting his skeen, or broad dagger, to the throat of Gilbert, told him to ask his life or die, as he must do either one or the other in half a minute. Gilbert said he would ask his life only upon the terms that, without apology or conversation, they should shake hands heartily and be future friends and companions, and not leave the youths of two old families to revenge their quarrel by carving each other. These terms being quite agreeable to my grandfather, as they breathed good sense, intrepidity, and good heart, he acquiesced; and from that time they were the most intimately attached and joyous friends and companions of the county wherein they resided.

My grandfather afterward fought at Clapook Squire Neddy Fitzgerald, who was badly shot. On this occasion, old Gilbert was my grandfather’s second:—I remember well seeing him; as I do also, about the same time, the late Chief Justice (then Serjeant) Pattison, who had come down to Cullenaghmore to visit my grandfather, and, as I afterward discovered, to cheat him of a borough and two seats in parliament, which he effected. Gilbert brought me a great many sweet things; and I heard that evening so many stories of fights at Clapook, and on the ridge of Maryborough, that I never forgot them; and it is curious enough that I have all my life taken the greatest delight in hearing of, or reading about, ancient battles and chivalrous adventures. Nothing amuses me more to this day; and hence perhaps it is, that I recollect those tales and traditions at the present moment with perfect distinctness and accuracy: my memory seldom fails me in any thing, and least of all in recitals such as the foregoing.[11]

11.  I have found many notes respecting such-like matters, in old Ms. books, &c. &c.; particularly two or three at the end of an old Cookery book, in Ms., by my great-grandmother Lady Byrne, of Timogue, in her own hand-writing, in 1729, with several receipts purporting to be by Lady Rory O’Neil, of Smithfield, Dublin, who died in 1741, at a great age. I shall revive this subject in another volume, which I contemplate.


Curious fatality in the Hartpole family—Characteristic sketch of the last of the name—Description of Shrewl Castle—The chapel and cemetery—Strictures on epitaph-writing—Eccentricities of the Earl of Aldborough—His Lordship proposes his sister, Lady Hannah Stratford, as returning-officer for the borough of Baltinglass—Consequent disturbances—The North-Briton put on his mettle, but out-manœuvred—“Lending to the Lord”—Successful conspiracy to marry Hartpole to the daughter of a village inn-keeper—He is stabbed by his wife, and deserts her in consequence—He forms an attachment to Miss Maria Otway, whom he marries, under the plea of his previous connexion being illegal—Unfortunate nature of this union—Separation of the parties—Hartpole’s voyage to Portugal, his return, and death—Sundry other anecdotes of the Stratford family.

In the year 1791, George Hartpole, of Shrewl Castle, Queen’s County, Ireland, had just come of age. He was the last surviving male of that name, which belonged to a popular family, highly respectable, and long established in the county. Few private gentlemen commenced life with better promise, and none better merited esteem and happiness. He was my relative by blood; and though considerably younger, the most intimate and dearest friend I had.

His father, Robert, had married a sister of the late and present Earls of Aldborough. She was the mother of George; and through this connexion originated my intercourse with that eccentric nobleman and his family.

A singular fatality had attended the Hartpole family from time immemorial. The fathers seldom survived the attainment of the age of 23 years by their elder sons, which circumstance gave rise to numerous traditionary tales of sprites and warnings.[12]

12.  The country authorities were very wise, very grave, and very grim on this subject; but, after all, I suspect the most natural way of accounting for the fatality alluded to is, that the old gentlemen were commonly among the hardest livers in the country, and consequently, the gout was certain to be their companion, and generally their executioner.

If wood be kept alternately in and out of moisture, it rots soon:—if it is always in water, it never decays. A man’s constitution and rum-punch may to a degree resemble wood and water in this respect. The hardest incessant drinkers I ever recollect lived to a great age, were generally healthy, and usually made their exit, at last, by apoplexy, without troubling either doctor, parson, or apothecary: while, on the contrary, most of those who were only intermitting boozers, died much earlier; their finisher being, nine times out of ten, gout in the head or stomach: a cause, however, occasionally varied by a broken neck by a fall from a horse, when riding home from a housewarming, or drowning in a ditch, whilst watering their horses after the dogh à dourish. A few were smothered in shaking bogs, whilst attending the turf-cutters, &c. &c.

It required at least three days and nights incessant hard going to kill a drinker of the first class. It cost Squire Luke Flood of Roundwood, a place situated in Queen’s County, five days and nights hard working at port before he could finish either himself or the piper. Old Squire Lewis Moor of Cremorgan died, by way of variety, at seventy-six, of a violent passion, because his wife became jealous of his proceedings with the kitchen-maid. A few died of Drogheda usquebaugh, and several of sore ancles. I recollect, in fact, many of the most curious deaths and burials in Ireland that ever took place in any country under heaven. None of them were considered as being melancholy events, since every hard going squire then generally took his full turn in this world, and died by some coup de grace, as stated: however, he was commonly regretted by all his acquaintance and family, except his eldest son.

Robert, as usual with the gentlemen of his day, was the dupe of agents, and the victim of indolence and hospitality. He had deposited his consort in the tomb of her fathers, and had continued merrily enjoying the convivialities of the world (principally in the night-time) till his son George had passed his 22nd year, and then punctually made way for the succession, leaving George inheritor of a large territory, a moderate income, a tattered mansion, an embarrassed rent-roll, and a profound ignorance (without the consciousness of it) of business in all departments.

George, though not at all handsome, had completely the mien and manners of a gentleman. His features accorded well with his address, bespeaking the cordiality of a friend and the ardour of an Irishman. His disposition was mild—his nature brave, generous, and sincere: on some occasions he was obstinate and peevish; on others, somewhat sullen and suspicious; but in his friendships, George Hartpole was immutable.

His stature was of the middle height, and his figure exhibited no appearance either of personal strength or constitutional vigour: his slender form and the languid fire of his eye indicated excitation without energy; yet his spirits were moderately good, and the most careless observer might feel convinced that he had sprung from no ordinary parentage—a circumstance which then had due influence in Ireland, where agents, artisans, and attorneys had not as yet supplanted the ancient nobility and gentry of the country.

Shrewl Castle, the hereditary residence of the Hartpoles, was in no way distinguishable from the numerous other castellated edifices now in a state of dilapidation throughout the whole island—ruins which invariably excite a retrospect of happier times, when the resident landlord, reverenced and beloved, and the cheerful tenant, fostered and protected, felt the natural advantages of their reciprocal attachment; a reflection which leads us to a sad comparison with modern usages, when the absent lord and the mercenary agent have no consideration but the rents, no solicitude but for their collection; when the deserted tenantry keep pace in decline with the deserted mansion; when the ragged cottager has no master to employ, no guardian to protect him!—pining, and sunk in the lowest state of want and wretchedness,—sans work, sans food, sans covering, sans every thing,—he rushes forlorn and desperate into the arms of destruction, which in all its various shapes stands ready to receive him. The reflection is miserable, but true:—such is Ireland since the year 1800.

Hartpole’s family residence, picturesquely seated on a verdant bank of the smooth and beautiful Barrow, had, during the revolutions of time, entirely lost the character of a fortress: patched and pieced after all the numberless orders of village architecture, it had long resigned the dignity of a castle without acquiring the comforts of a mansion: yet its gradual descent, from the stronghold of powerful chieftains to the rude dwelling of an embarrassed gentleman, could be traced even by a superficial observer. Its half-levelled battlements, its solitary and decrepit tower, and its rough, dingy walls, (giving it the appearance of a sort of habitable buttress,) combined to portray the downfall of an ancient family.

Close bounding the site of this ambiguous heritage was situate the ancient burial-place of the Hartpole family and its followers for ages. Scattered graves, some green—some russet—denoted the recentness or remoteness of the different interments; and a few broad flag-stones indented with defaced or illegible inscriptions, and covering the remains of the early masters of the domain, just uplifted their mouldering sides from among weeds and briars, and half disclosed the only objects which could render that cemetery interesting.

One melancholy yew-tree, spreading wide its straggling branches over the tombs of its former lords and the nave of an ancient chapel, (its own hollow trunk proclaiming that it could not long survive,) seemed to await, in awful augury, the honour of expiring with the last scion of its hereditary chieftains.

To me the view of this melancholy tree always communicated a low feverish sensation, which I could not well account for. It is true, I ever disliked to contemplate the residence of the dead:[13] but that of the Hartpole race, bounding their hall of revelry, seemed to me a check upon all hilarity; and I never could raise my spirits in any room, or sleep soundly in any chamber, which overlooked that sanctuary.

13.  I never could get over certain disagreeable sensations and awe at the interment of any person. So strongly, indeed, have I been impressed in this way, that I formed a resolution, which (with one exception) I have strictly adhered to these forty years,—namely, never to attend the funeral even of a relative. I have now and then indulged a whim of strolling over a country church-yard, occasionally to kill time when travelling, in other instances for statistical purposes: but, in general, the intelligible and serious inscriptions on the tomb-stones are so mingled and mixed with others too ridiculous even for the brain of a stone-cutter to have devised, that the rational and preposterous, alternately counteracting each other, made a sort of equipoise; and I generally left an ordinary church-yard pretty much in the same mood in which I entered it.

The incidents which marked the life of the last owner of Shrewl Castle were singular and affecting, and on many points may tend to exhibit an instructive example. Nothing, in fact, is better calculated to influence the conduct of society, than the biography of those whose career has been conspicuously marked either by eminent virtues or peculiar events. The instance of George Hartpole may serve to prove, were proof wanting, that matrimony, as it is the most irrevocable, so is it the most precarious step in the life of mortals; and that sensations of presentiment and foreboding (as I have already more than once maintained) are not always visionary.

I was the most valued friend of this ill-fated young man. To me his whole heart was laid open;—nor was there one important circumstance of his life, one feeling of his mind, concealed from me. It is now many years since he paid his debt to nature; and, by her course, I shall not much longer tarry to regret his departure; but, whilst my pilgrimage continues, that regret cannot be extinguished.

George had received but a moderate education, far inadequate to his rank and expectations; and the country life of his careless father had afforded him too few conveniences for cultivating his capacity. His near alliance, however, and intercourse with the Aldborough family, gave him considerable opportunities to counteract, in a better class of society, that tendency to rustic dissipation to which his situation had exposed him, and which, at first seductive, soon becomes habitual, and ruinous in every way to youthful morals.

Whatever were the other eccentricities or failings of Robert, Earl of Aldborough (the uncle of Hartpole), the hyperbolical ideas of importance and dignity which he had imbibed, though in many practical instances they rendered him ridiculous, still furnished him with a certain address and air of fashion which put rustic vulgarity out of his society, and, combined with a portion of classic learning and modern belles-lettres, never failed to give him an entire ascendancy over his ruder neighbours. This curious character exhibited a pretty equal proportion of ostentation and meanness.[14]

14.  Hartpole, though he despised the empty arrogance of his uncle, yet saw that his Lordship knew the world well and profited by that knowledge:—he therefore occasionally paid much attention to some of my Lord’s worldly lectures; and had he observed the best of them, though he might possibly have appeared less amiable, he would doubtless have been far more fortunate. But Hartpole could not draw the due distinction between the folly of his uncle’s ostentation and the utility of his address; disgusted with the one, he did not sufficiently practise the other; and despised the idea of acting as if he knew the world, lest he should be considered as affecting to know too much of it.

The most remarkable act of his Lordship’s life was an experiment regarding his sister, Lady Hannah Stratford. The borough of Baltinglass was in the patronage of the Stratford family; and on that subject, his brothers, John and Benjamin, never gave him a peaceable moment: they always opposed him, and generally succeeded. He was determined, however, to make a new kind of burgomaster or returning-officer, whose adherence he might religiously depend on. He therefore took his sister, Lady Hannah, down to the corporation, and recommended her as a fit and proper returning-officer for the borough of Baltinglass! Many highly approved of her Ladyship, by way of a change, and a double return ensued—a man acting for the brothers, and the lady for the nobleman. This created a great battle. The honourable ladies of the family all got into the thick of it: some of them were well trounced—others gave as good as they received: the affair made a great uproar in Dublin, and informations were moved for and granted against some of the ladies. However, the brothers, as was just, kept the borough, and his Lordship never could make any farther hand of it.

The high-ways of Lord Aldborough, and the by-ways with which he intersected them, are well exhibited by an incident that occurred to him when the country was rather disturbed in 1797. He proceeded in great state, with his carriage, outriders, &c. to visit the commanding officer of a regiment of cavalry which had just arrived in that part of the country. On entering the room, he immediately began by informing the officer “that he was the Earl of Aldborough, of Belan Castle; that he had the finest mansion, demesne, park and fish-ponds in that county, and frequently did the military gentlemen the honour of inviting them to his dinners;”—adding, with what he thought a dignified politeness, “I have come from my castle of Belan, where I have all the conveniences and luxuries of life, for the especial purpose of saying, Major, I am glad to see the military in my county, and have made up my mind to give you, Major, my countenance and protection.” The Major, who happened to be rather a rough soldier and of a country not famed for the softness of its manners, could scarcely repress his indignation at his Lordship’s arrogant politeness: but when the last sentence was pronounced, he could restrain himself no longer:—“Coontenance and proteection!” repeated he contemptuously, two or three times: “as for your proteection, Mister my Lord, Major M‘Pherson is always able to proteect himsel; and as for your coontenance, by heeven I would not tak it for your eerldom!”

His Lordship withdrew, and the Major related the incident as a singular piece of assurance. My Lord, however, knew the world too well to let the soldier’s answer stick against himself:—next day he invited every officer of the regiment to dinner, and so civilly, that the Major lost all credit with his brother officers for his surly reply to so hospitable a nobleman! Nay, it was even whispered among them at mess, that the Major had actually invented the story, to show off his own wit and independence;—and thus Lord Aldborough obtained complete revenge.

On another occasion, his Lordship got off better still:—being churchwarden of Baltinglass parish, he did not please the rector, Bob Carter, as to his mode of accounting for the money in the poor-boxes. The peer treated Bob (who was as hard-going, good-hearted, devil-may-care a parson as any in Ireland) with the greatest contempt. The parson, who felt no sort of personal respect for my Lord, renewed his insinuations of his Lordship’s false arithmetic, until the latter, highly indignant, grew wroth, and would give Bob no further satisfaction on the matter: upon which, the rector took the only revenge then in his power, by giving out a second charity sermon, inasmuch as the proceeds of the first had not been productive. The hint went abroad, the church was crowded, and to the infinite amusement of the congregation, Bob put forth as his text—“Whosoever giveth to the poor, lendeth to the Lord.” The application was so clear, that the laugh was irresistible. Bob followed up his blow all through the sermon, and “the Lord” was considered to be completely blown; but skilfully enough, he contrived to give the matter a turn that disconcerted even the Rev. Bob himself. After the sermon was concluded, his Lordship stood up, publicly thanked Bob for his most excellent text and charity sermon, and declared that he had no doubt the Lord Lieutenant or the bishop would very soon promote him, according to his extraordinary merits, which he was ready to vouch, in common with the rest of the parishioners; finally begging of him to have the sermon printed!

Hartpole’s fortune on the death of his father was not large; but its increase would be great and certain, and this rendered his adoption of any money-making profession or employment unnecessary. He accordingly purchased a commission in the army, and commenced his entré into a military life and general society with all the advantages of birth, property, manners, and character.

A cursory observation of the world must convince us of one painful and inexplicable truth;—that there are some men (and frequently the best) who, even from their earliest youth, appear born to be the victims of undeviating misfortune; whom Providence seems to have gifted with free-agency only to lead them to unhappiness and ruin. Ever disappointed in his most ardent hopes—frustrated in his dearest objects—his best intentions overthrown—his purest motives calumniated and abused,—no rank or station suffices to shelter such an unfortunate:—ennui creeps upon his hopeless mind, communicates a listless languor to a sinking constitution, and at length he almost joyfully surrenders an existence which he finds too burdensome to be supported.[15]

15.  I cannot better illustrate the state of a person so chased by misery, than by quoting a few unpublished lines, the composition of a very young lady, Miss M. T., with whom, and with whose amiable family, I have the pleasure of being intimate.

I am aware that I do her great injustice by quoting these particular verses—some of the most inferior of her writings; but they seem so much to the point, that I venture to risk her displeasure. She is not, indeed, irritable; and I promise to atone for my error by a few further quotations from her superior compositions.

I never sought a day’s repose
But some sharp thorn pierced my breast;
I never watch’d the evening’s close,
And hoped a heaven of rest;
But soon a darkling cloud would come
Athwart the prospect bright,
And, pale as twilight on a tomb,
My hopes grew dim in night.
Oft have I mark’d the heav’nly moon
Wandering her pathless way
Along the midnight’s purple noon,
More fair—more loved than day:
But soon she flung her shadowy wreath
O’er dark eternity,
As a faint smile on the cheek of death
’Twixt hope and agony.
Oft on the rainbow’s bloom I’ve gazed,
Arch’d as a gate of heaven,
Till gushing showers its portals razed,
And bathed the brow of even.
’Tis thus young hopes illume the sky
Of Life’s dark atmosphere,
Yet, like the rainbow’s splendid dye,
They meet and disappear.
Ev’n so, the mirth of man is madness;—
His joy as a sepulchral light,
Which shows his solitude and sadness,
But chaseth not the night.

Such nearly was the lot of the last of the Hartpoles. He had scarcely commenced a flattering entrance into public life, when one false and fatal step, to which he was led first by a dreadful accident, and subsequently by his own benevolent disposition, worked on by the chicanery of others, laid the foundation of all his future miseries.

While quartered with his regiment at Galway, in Ireland, his gun, on a shooting party, burst in his hand, which was so shattered, that it was long before his surgeon could decide that amputation might be dispensed with.

During the protracted period of his indisposition he was confined to his chamber at a small inn, such as Ireland then exhibited in provincial towns. The host, whose name was Sleven, had two daughters, both of whom assisted in the business. The elder, Honor, had long been celebrated as a vulgar wit and humourist, the cleverest of all her female contemporaries; and the bar, on circuits, frequented her father’s house purposely to be amused by her repartees. Her coarse person was well calculated to protect her moral conduct; and she jested and took her glass with reasonable moderation. Besides entertaining the bar, she occasionally amused the judges also; and Lord Yelverton, the chief baron, (who admired wit in any body,) was Honor’s greatest partisan.

Such females ever appeared to me unnatural and disgusting. A humorous and vulgar Amazon, who forgets her own sex, can scarcely expect that ours will recollect it.

Mary, the younger sister, was of a different appearance and character. She was as mild and unassuming as, from her low occupation and habits of life, could be expected: though destitute of any kind of talent, she yet appeared as if somewhat better born than Honor, and her attention to her guests was at the same time assiduous but properly reserved; which conduct, contrasted with the masculine effrontery of the other, gave her, in my mind, a great superiority.

It must have been remarked by every person who has observed the habits and manners of provincial towns, that the distinctions of society are frequently suspended by the necessary familiarities of a contracted circle, and that inferior females frequently excite (especially among youthful military) sensations of tenderness which in a metropolis would never have been thought of—at least in the same point of view. And here the evil genius of Hartpole first commenced her incantations for his ruin.

Throughout George’s painful and harassing confinement, the more than assiduous care of Mary Sleven could not escape the observation of the too sensitive convalescent. Hartpole has often described to me the rise and progress of the giddy, romantic feeling which then seized upon him; how he used to catch her moistened eye watching his interrupted slumbers, or the progress of his recovery; and when she was conscious of being perceived, how the mantling blush would betray a degree of interest far beyond that of an ordinary attendant.

Mary was rather well-looking; though there was little to captivate, there was nothing about her to excite his distaste: he was not permitted to have society; and thus, being left nearly alone with this young female during many weeks of pain and solitude, and accustomed to the solicitude of a woman, (so exquisite to a man in every state of suffering,) Hartpole discovered in the sequel, that a feeling of gratitude of the highest order had sunk deeper than he wished within his bosom.

He could not but perceive, indeed, that the girl actually loved him, and his vanity of course was alive to the disclosure; but his honourable principles prevented him from taking any advantage of that weakness, which she could not conceal, and whereto he could not be blind. It was in truth a dangerous situation for both. There were, as I have said, no external objects to divert George’s mind from this novel sensation; there was no one to point out its folly or interrupt its progress. Her partiality flattered him in his seclusion, and led his thoughts gradually and imperceptibly into a channel inconsistent with the welfare of himself, the honour of his family, and the becoming pride of a gentleman. It certainly was, after all, a sort of non-descript passion: it was not actually love.

Meanwhile the keen masculine understanding of Honor soon perceived the game which it would be wise in her to play, and conceived a project whereby to wind up Hartpole’s feeling to the pitch she wanted, and insensibly to lead his gratitude to love, and his love to matrimony. This was Honor’s aim; but she overrated her own penetration, and deceived herself as to Hartpole’s character: she overacted her part, and consequently diminished its effect.

At length, awakened from his vision of romantic gratitude, and beginning to open his eyes to the views of the two women, my friend felt ashamed of his facility, and mustered up sufficient resolution to rescue himself from the toils they were spreading for his capture. He had never made any species of proposal to Mary, and she could not, with just or honest hope, look to marriage with a person so greatly her superior. On his perfect recovery, he determined, by going over to England, to avoid all their machinations; and he also determined that his departure should be abrupt.

The keen and rapid eye of the designing Honor, however, soon discovered the secret of his thoughts; and guessing the extent of his resolution, she artfully impressed upon him (under the affectation of concealing it) the entire attachment of her pining sister; but at the same time communicated Mary’s resolution to be seen by him no more—“since it would be useless further to distract her devoted heart by cultivating society from which she must so soon be separated for ever.”

Here Honor was again mistaken:—no melting looks, no softening blandishments, now intervened to oppose George’s pride or stagger his resolution. He had only to struggle with himself; and after a day and night of calm reflection, he fully conquered the dangers of his high-flown gratitude, and departed at day-break from the inn without even desiring to see the love-lorn and secluded Mary.

The sisters were thus totally disappointed. He had paid munificently for the trouble he had given them, written a letter of grateful thanks to Mary, left her a considerable present, and set off to Dublin to take immediate shipping for England.

Hartpole now congratulated himself on his escape from the sarcasms of the world, the scorn of his family, and his own self-condemnation. He had acted with honour; he had done nothing wrong; and he had once more secured that rank in society which he had been in danger of relinquishing. In Dublin he stopped at the Marine Hotel, whence the packet was to sail at midnight, and considered himself as on the road to Stratford-place, London, which his uncle, Lord Aldborough, had built, and where his Lordship then resided.

The time of embarkation had nearly arrived when a loud shriek issued from an adjoining chamber to his, at the hotel. Ever alive to any adventure, Hartpole rushed into the room, and beheld—Mary Sleven! She was, or affected to be, fainting, and was supported by the artful Honor, who hung over her, apparently regardless of all other objects, and bemoaning, in low accents, the miserable fate of her only sister.

Bewildered both by the nature and suddenness of this rencontre, Hartpole told me that for a moment he nearly lost his sight—nay, almost his reason; but he soon saw through the scheme, and mustered up sufficient courage to withdraw without explanation. He had, in fact, advanced to the door, and was on the outside step, the boat being ready to receive him, when a second and more violent shriek was heard from the room he had just quitted, accompanied by exclamations of “She’s gone! she’s gone!” Hartpole’s presence of mind entirely forsook him; he retraced his steps, and found Mary lying, as it should seem, quite senseless, in the arms of Honor: his heart relented; his evil genius profited by the advantage; and he assisted to restore her. Gradually Mary’s eyes opened; she regarded George wildly but intently, and having caught his eye, closed hers again—a languid, and, as it were, an involuntary pressure of his hand, conveying to him her sensations. He spoke kindly to her: she started at the sound, and renewed the pressure with increased force. As she slowly and gradually revived, the scene became more interesting. A medical man being (by preconcert) at hand, he ordered her restorative cordials. Madeira only could at the moment be procured. She put the glass to her mouth, sipped, looked tenderly at Hartpole, and offered it him; her lips had touched it; he sipped also; the patient smiled; the doctor took a glass; Hartpole pledged him; glass followed glass, until George was bewildered! The artful Honor soon substituted another bottle: it was Hartpole’s first wine after his accident, and quickly mounted to his brain.

Thus did an hour flit away, and, meanwhile, the packet had sailed. Another person affected also to have lost his passage while occupied about the patient, and this turned out to be a Catholic priest. Refreshments were ordered: the doctor and the priest were pressed to partake of the fare: the Madeira was replenished: the moments fled! The young man’s brain was inflamed; and it is only necessary to add, that the morning’s sun arose, not on the happy George, but on the happy Mary, the wedded wife of Hartpole.

I will not attempt to describe the husband’s feelings when morning brought reflection. Every passion met its foe within his bosom: every resolve was overwhelmed by an adverse one: his sensitive mind became the field of contest for tumultuous emotions; until, worn out by its own conflicts, it sank into languor and dejection. He had lost himself! he therefore yielded to his fate, abandoned all idea of further resistance, and was led back in chains by the triumphant sisters.

None of his family or connexions would ever receive her; and George for awhile, sunk and disgraced, without losing all his attachment for the girl, had lost all his tranquillity. After two years’ struggle, however, between his feelings for her and his aspirations after a more honourable station in society, the conspiracy which had effected his ruin, being by chance discovered, arose before his eye like a spectre, and, as if through a prism, the deception appeared in the clearest colours.

A revulsion followed, and the conflict became still more keen within his breast: but, at length, his pride and resolution prevailed over his sensibility, and he determined (after providing amply for her) to take advantage of that statute which declares null and void all marriages between a Catholic and a Protestant solemnised by a popish priest. He made this determination; it was just; but, unfortunately, he lingered as to its execution. Her influence was not extinguished; and she succeeded in inducing him to procrastinate from time to time the fatal resolve. She could not, it is true, deny that he had been inveigled, and had made up her own mind, should he stand firm, to accept a liberal provision, and submit to a legal sentence, which indeed could not be resisted.

As the propriety of Mary’s moral conduct had never been called in question, she might, after all, be able to obtain a match more adapted to her station and to every thing except her ambition: but the coarse and vulgar Honor miscalculated all. She irritated and wound up Mary almost to madness; and in this state, her characteristic mildness forsook her; she became jealous of all other women, and hesitated not daily to lavish abuse on the passive and wretched Hartpole.

One morning, in Dublin, where they were residing, he came to my house in a state of trembling perturbation. He showed me a wound on his hand, and another slight one from a knife’s point indented on his breast-bone. Mary, he said, had, in a paroxysm of rage, attempted to stab him whilst sitting at breakfast: he had, with difficulty, wrested the knife from her grasp, and left the house never to return to it. He could in fact no longer feel safe in her society; and therefore, arranging all his necessary concerns, he repaired to Edinburgh, where his regiment was quartered.

The suit for a decree of nullity was immediately commenced, but no effective proceedings were ever taken, nor any sentence in the cause pronounced, owing to events still more unfortunate to poor Hartpole.

Prior to this fatal act of George’s, I had never observed an attachment on his part toward any female, save a very temporary one to a young lady in his neighbourhood, whom few men could see without strong feelings of admiration;—the second daughter of Mr. Yates, of Moon, a gentleman of the old school, almost antediluvian in his appearance, and of good fortune in County Kildare.

The beauty of Myrtle Yates arose nearly to perfection. It was of that brilliance with which poets and romance writers endeavour to adorn the most favoured of their heroines. Had she lived of yore, the Grecian sculptor or Roman artist might have profited by charms which they could never fancy:—she might have been the model for a Venus, or, at a later era, sat for a Madonna. Nature, indeed, seemed to have created her solely for the blandishments of affection; and her whole form appeared susceptible of being dissolved in love.

In a word, at twenty, Myrtle Yates was wholly irresistible; not a youth of her country, who had a heart, could boast of its insensibility; and perhaps she owed to the bewildering number of those admirers the good fortune of not devoting herself to any of them.

Yet Hartpole’s attachment to Myrtle Yates was neither deep nor lasting. He considered her too attractive—perhaps too yielding; and had he always adhered to the same principle of judgment, it is possible he might have yet existed.

On his return from Scotland he immediately repaired to Clifton, to drink the waters for a severe cold which could no longer be neglected, and required medical advice and a balmy atmosphere. Here fate threw in the way of this ill-fated youth another lure for his destruction, but such a one as might have entrapped even the most cautious and prudent. Love, in its genuine and rational shape, now assailed the breast of the ever-sensitive Hartpole; and an attachment sprang up fatal to his happiness, and eventually to his existence.

At Clifton, my friend made the acquaintance of a lady and gentleman, in whose only daughter were combined all the attractive qualities of youth, loveliness, and amiability. Their possessor moved in a sphere calculated to gratify his pride; and those who saw and knew the object of George’s new attachment could feel no surprise at the vehemence of his passion.

The unfortunate young man, however, sorely felt that his situation under these circumstances was even more dreadful than in the former connexion. Loving one woman to adoration, and as yet the acknowledged husband of another, it is not easy to conceive any state more distracting to a man of honour. His agitated mind had now no suspension of its misery, save when lulled into a temporary trance by the very lassitude induced by its own unhappiness.

He wrote to me, expressing the full extent of his sensations—that is, as fully as pen could convey them. But imperfect indeed must be all expression which attempts to describe intensity of feeling. It was from blots and scratches, and here and there the dried-up stain of an hieroglyphic tear, rather than from words, that I gathered the excess of his mental agony. He required of my friendship to advise him—a task, to the execution of which I was utterly incompetent. All I could properly advise him to, was what I knew he would not comply with; namely, to come over to Ireland, and endeavour to conquer the influence of his passion, or at least to take no decisive step in divulging it till the law had pronounced its sentence on his existing connexion.

Hartpole had strong feelings of honour as to this latter. For a length of time he could scarcely reconcile himself to the idea of publicly annulling what he had publicly avowed; and it was only by urging on his consideration the fact, that the ceremony by a popish priest in no such case legally constituted a marriage, that he was prevailed on to seek for a decree of nullity. Such decree was not indeed absolutely necessary; but to have it upon record was judged advisable. Though the incipient proceedings had been taken by his proctor, they were not completed, and Mary Sleven’s marriage never was formally declared a nullity by the sentence of the Ecclesiastical Court, nor was she ever judicially separated from the deluded Hartpole.

Under all these circumstances, I was totally bewildered as to what ought to be my friend’s future conduct, when I was one morning greatly surprised by the sudden appearance of Hartpole at my breakfast-table, obviously in better health:—he looked very superior to what I had expected; his eye sparkled, and there was an air of satisfaction diffused both over his features and address which convinced me that some decisive step had been taken by him. He lost no time in telling me that he had actually proposed for Miss Otway to her father and mother; that she herself had consented; that Mr. and Mrs. Otway had come over to have his fortune investigated, and wished to see me with as little delay as convenient; and concluded by saying, that he was most anxious to introduce me to the source of all his terrestrial happiness.

I could not but start on hearing all this, and declined entering at all into the business with Mr. Otway till George had given me a written license to communicate with him as I pleased. He acceded to all I desired, and the next morning I waited on that gentleman—(Mr. Cooke Otway, of Castle Otway).

I never felt more embarrassed in my life than at this interview. I had in the interim made myself master of Mr. Otway’s character, and the knowledge by no means contributed to ease my scruples or diminish my embarrassment. However, to my surprise, a very short time disposed of both, and in a way which I had heretofore conceived quite impossible.

I found Colonel Cooke Otway a strong-minded, decided, gentlemanly man, obviously with more head than heart,—sensible, and practically good-natured;—in short, one of those well-trained persons who appear to be quite off-handed, yet, on closer remark, are obviously in reservation.

He introduced me to Mrs. Otway, whose character required no research. It was ordinary, but amiable: she had evidently great kindness of heart, and her conduct was uniformly reported to be such as left nothing to amend either as wife or mother: she appeared to be in declining health, whilst her daughter, in the full bloom of youth and first blush of ripening beauty, presented a striking contrast.

I also read, as far as its hitherto slight development would admit, the character of Maria Otway. I could perceive neither the languor of love nor the restlessness of suspense at all predominant in her feelings. Perfect ease and entire resignation appeared to sit most cheerfully on her brow: she seemed voluntarily to consider the wish of her parents as the rule of her destiny; and it was perceptible that Hartpole had the love entirely at his own disposal.

Maria united in her appearance, her manners, and her obvious disposition, most of those amiable and engaging traits which the age of eighteen can develope in a female.—Her figure, in height rather below the middle stature, had arrived at that proportionate fulness which forms the just medium between the round and slender, and without the defects of either gives the advantages of both. Her limbs, cast in the mould of perfect symmetry, moved with that ease and moderate activity which constitute the natural grace of female action. Her features small, and not justifying the epithet of “beautiful,” yet formed in their assemblage a blooming and expressive index of the young heart that ruled them: the imperfections of the profile were lost in the brilliant delicacy of the complexion which embellished it. Her blue eyes were untutored; but her smile was intoxicating; and my friend was bound and fettered in the trammels of female witchery.

In my own judgment, Maria Otway was certainly at that time a most interesting young female: still her beauty, obviously aided by youth, health, and thoughtless happiness, was not of that animated and vigorous cast on which we so often see neither time, care, nor age make quick impression: it was, on the other hand, that soft and delicate loveliness to which years and family are such inveterate and sometimes rapid enemies.

Over such a person as Hartpole, the victory of Miss Otway’s beauty was complete; and the result of that unfortunate passion convinces me that a man (unless his judgment be superior to his sensibility) cannot commit an act of greater folly than to encourage an attachment to any woman whom he thinks every body else must admire as well as himself. George at first was inclined to resist his passion, but he did not fly from the cause of it, and he therefore fell a victim to romantic love as he had before done to romantic gratitude.

Mr. Otway at once opened the business, and told me Hartpole had referred him to me for a statement of his estates and financial situation. On this point I had come fully prepared. Hartpole’s circumstances exceeded rather than fell below Mr. Otway’s expectation.

“I am quite satisfied, my dear sir,” said he to me, with a significant nod; “you know that in Ireland we always make some allowances for the Stratford consanguinity.”

I now found my embarrassment recommence, but determined, at every risk, to free myself from all future responsibility or reproach: I therefore informed Col. Otway explicitly of Hartpole’s marriage, and that no sentence had as yet been pronounced to declare that marriage a nullity, though in point of law it was so.

Having heard me throughout with the greatest complacency, he took me by the hand:—“My dear sir,” said he with a smile which at first surprised me, “I am happy to tell you that I was fully apprised, before I came to Ireland, of every circumstance you have related to me as to that woman, and had taken the opinions of several eminent practitioners on the point, each of whom gave without any hesitation exactly the same opinion you have done: my mind was therefore easy and made up on that subject before I left England, and I do not consider the circumstance any impediment to the present negotiation.”

It is not easy to describe the relief thus afforded me; though, at the same time, I must own I was somewhat astonished at this seeming nonchalance. We parted in excellent humour with each other, and I believe he was my friend to the day of his death.

The negotiation went on: Miss Sleven was no more regarded; and after a deal of discussion, but no difference of opinion, the terms were agreed on, and settlements prepared, for a marriage, in all its results as unfortunate for the young people, and as culpable in the old, as any that ever came within my recollection.

A circumstance of singular and not very auspicious nature occurred on the first step toward the completion of that ill-starred alliance. It was necessary to procure a license from the Prerogative Court for the solemnization of the marriage in the city of Dublin, and Hartpole’s uncle, the Honourable Benjamin O’Neil Stratford (now Earl of Aldborough), attended with George upon Doctor Duigenan, then judge of the prerogative, for that purpose.

The doctor (who when irritated was the most outrageous judge that ever presided in a court of justice) was on the bench officiating upon their arrival. Benjamin conceived that his rank and intimacy with the doctor would have procured him at least common civility; but in this he was egregiously mistaken.

Benjamin O’Neil Stratford, who attended his nephew on that dangerous expedition, was endowed with several good-natured qualities, but, as folks said, rather inclined to the pleasures of litigation. In every family which is not very popular, there is always one, of whom people in general say, “Oh! he is the best of them:” and this was Benjamin’s reputation as to the Stratford family.[16]

16.  The noble Earl had then also the appellation of “Blind Ben,” which had been conferred on him by the agreeable and witty Lady Aldborough, and which ought not to have been by any means considered derogatory, inasmuch as his name is certainly Benjamin, and one of his eyes is actually “not at home;” and as the abrupt mode of its quitting his Lordship’s service was rather humorous, it may be amusing to mention it.

He had once (as he thought) the honour of killing a crane. Benjamin’s evil genius, however, maliciously scattered the shot, and the crane had only been what they call in Ireland kilt; but feeling pretty sure that her death was determined on, she resolved to die heroically, and not unrevenged. She fell, and lying motionless, seduced her assassin to come and wring her head off, according to the usual rules and practice of humanity by fowlers. The honourable sportsman approached triumphantly, and stooping to seize the spolia opima, Madam Crane, (having as good eyes of her own as the one that took aim at her,) in return for his compliment, darted her long bill plump into the head of the Honourable Benjamin O’Neil Stratford, entering through the very same casement which he had closed the shutters of to take his aim. In fact, she turned the honourable gentleman’s eye clean out of its natural residence; and being thus fully gratified by extinguishing the light in one of her enemy’s lanterns, she resigned her body to be plucked, stuffed, and roasted, in the usual manner, as was performed accordingly. Thus, though her slayer was writhing in agony, his family was fully revenged by feasting on his tormentor. Daily consultations were held to ascertain whether her long rapier had not actually penetrated the brain of the Honourable Benjamin. One of the tenants being heard to say, in a most untenant-like manner, that it might in such case be all for the best, was asked his reason for so undutiful an expression; and replied, that if she had just pricked his honour’s brain, maybe it might have let out the humours, which would have done no harm either to his honour or to Baltinglass.

On their arrival in the presence of the doctor, who pretended never to know any body in Court, he asked, “Who those people were?” and on being informed, proceeded to inquire what business brought them there.

The Honourable Benjamin answered, “that he wanted a marriage-license for his nephew, George Hartpole, of Shrewl Castle, Esq., and Miss Maria Otway, of Castle Otway, County Tipperary.”

He had scarcely pronounced the words when the doctor, rising, with the utmost vehemence roared out, “George Hartpole! George Hartpole! is that the rascal who has another wife living?”

George, struck motionless, shrank within himself; but Benjamin, not being so easily frightened, said something equally warm, whereupon the doctor, without further ceremony, rushed at him, seized him by the collar, and cried, “Do you want me to countenance bigamy, you villains?” at the same time roaring to his crier and servants to “turn the fellows out!” which order, if not literally, was virtually performed, and the petitioners for a license congratulated themselves upon their providential escape from so outrageous a judge of prerogative.

The fact was, a suit of nullity had been actually commenced in the Court, but its merits never having been stated, the judge only knew Hartpole as a married man de facto, and it certainly could not appear very correct of the Honourable Benjamin to apply to the same judge who was to try the validity of the first marriage, to grant his license for the solemnization of a second while the first remained undecided. On Hartpole’s mind the circumstance made an indelible impression, and he never afterward took any further proceedings in the cause then instituted.

Hartpole returned to me and recounted the adventure, affecting to treat it as a jest against his uncle. But it was a vain disguise; although, by struggling sharply with his feelings, he in some degree overcame them.

But what was now to be done, since no license could be obtained in Dublin? A general consultation was held; Mr. Otway (still singularly to me) appeared to regard the circumstance as a mere bagatelle. I thought far otherwise; and it was so deeply engraven on Hartpole’s mind, that he mentioned it to me not three days previous to his dissolution, as having foreboded all his subsequent misfortunes.

It was at length agreed on that he should be married in the diocese of Kildare, by a license from the bishop’s surrogate there. This was in effect accomplished. I did not attend at the ceremony; after which, the parties pursued their journey to Castle Otway, where, in the midst of every thing that was desirable on earth, Hartpole commenced the trial of his new connexion.

In spite of these apparent advantages, however, my friend soon began either to find or conjure up new and dangerous sources of uneasiness. He continued some months at Castle Otway, listless and devoured by ennui—pining for a change of scene, and longing to return to his hereditary domain. His health gradually, although slowly, declined; yet he took no medical advice: remote symptoms of consumption began to exhibit themselves, and the effects of care upon a constitution naturally irritable favoured their development. But, amidst all this, he fancied for awhile that he possessed every thing he could wish for;—his wife daily improved in her person, her manners were delightful, her conduct unexceptionable.

Maria was adored by her parents, but adored to a degree that tended eventually to create her misery: the thought of separating from them was to her almost unbearable; she durst scarcely look at such an event with firmness. Her reluctance could not be concealed from the sharp eye of her uneasy husband. Every mark of affection lavished by her on her parents he considered as if filched from him. He thought her heart should have no room for any attachments but to himself, whereas it had been wholly preoccupied by filial tenderness, that true passion of nature. In a word, she had never loved Hartpole, for whom she felt no other than a neutral species of attachment. Neither her mind nor her person had arrived at their full maturity, when she was called upon to love; and under such circumstances, she really evinced more affection for her husband than I supposed she would do, but far less than he expected.

At length it was agreed that they should come, on a visit, to my house in Dublin for some time, and that her mother should afterwards stay with her at Shrewl Castle till Maria was gradually reconciled to the dreaded change, and to final residence with a man whom I believe she early discovered was not exactly calculated to make her happy. The story of Mary Sleven, I believe, she had not heard; if she had, I am pretty sure she never would have left the protection of her father.

When Hartpole arrived at my house, I soon perceived that my gloomy auguries had been too well grounded. I found his mind bewildered; he received no enjoyment from reading; his health did not permit strong exercise; he took no pleasure in new and strange society; but, on the contrary, pined for his own home, his free associates, his steward, his tenants, his colliers, and above all, for a passive, fond companion who should have no wish but her husband’s.

Now, none of these things were to Maria’s taste, and she yielded to the inroads of discontent, as I think, unreasonably: still, this feeling never showed itself with offensive prominence. She gave way to every desire expressed by her husband, but her acquiescence seemed to me like that of a victim. I have often noticed that, even whilst she intimated her obedience, her averted eye betrayed a rebel tear, and she only awaited the moment when it might gush out with safety, and relieve her.

I perceived that, unless some step was taken to occupy George’s mind, a residence at Shrewl Castle would surely proclaim to the world both his folly and his ruin. I therefore applied to Mr. Pelham, then secretary in Ireland, to appoint Hartpole to the office of high sheriff for Queen’s County for the ensuing year, 1794. My application was immediately conceded. I also took out for him a commission of the peace. Meanwhile his old castle was in part newly furnished, and I was happy to see that he felt a sort of gratification in the appointment of sheriff; and though in a state of health badly calculated to execute the duties of such an office, the occupation of his mind would, I hoped, make ample amends for his necessary personal exertions. If that year had passed favourably, it was my intention to have recommended a tour to some foreign country, where change of climate and of scene might tend to restore my friend’s health, to amuse his mind, and perhaps to make a desirable alteration in the feelings both of himself and his wife:—but Heaven decreed otherwise.

While on their visit at my house, I perceived, in Hartpole’s disposition, among other traits which so close a communion could scarcely fail to develope, one which I had never before suspected in him, and calculated to prove the certain and permanent source of unhappiness. Jealousy is of all others the most terrible of human passions. When once it fixes its roots in a hasty, sanguine nature, it becomes master of every action and every word; and reason, justice, and humanity, all fly before it! When it pervades a less ardent spirit, impetuosity is bridled; but the desire of revenge is no less powerful, and too often seeks gratification in the exercise of cold treachery or petty annoyance: in either case, the eye magnifies every object which can at all feed the greediness of suspicion. When this passion has any fair cause, it may be justifiable, and a crisis generally ends it; but when no cause exists, save in the distempered fancy of a sinking constitution, it is permanent and invincible.

Such was the case with my friend: his jealousy had no fixed object on which to fasten itself, but wandered from person to person. Indeed, it could have no resting-place; for, in this point of view, Maria was blameless. But in the eye of my friend she had guilt—the guilt of being attractive. He conceived that every body must love her as he did himself, and fancied that a female universally admired could not be universally ungrateful.

This melancholy and morbid state of mind appeared to me likely to increase from residence in a metropolis, and I hastened his departure for Shrewl Castle, to take upon himself the office of high sheriff. I did not go with them, for my mind misgave me: her mother met them there, and innocently completed the ruin of her children by a step the consequences whereof should ever be a warning to wives, to parents, and to husbands!

At Shrewl, Mrs. Otway perceived George’s ideal malady: she was a silly woman, who fancied she was wise, and thought she never could do wrong because she always intended to do right. She proposed to Maria a most desperate remedy to cure her husband of his jealousy, though she did not reflect that it might probably be at the expense of his existence, and certainly of her daughter’s duty. They conspired together, and wrote two or three letters directed to Mrs. Hartpole, without signature, but professing love and designating meetings. These they took measures to drop so as Hartpole might accidentally find some of them, and thus they thought in the end to convince him of his folly, and laugh him out of his suspicions.

The result may be easily anticipated by those who have read with attention the character of the husband. He became outrageous; the developement did not pacify him; and his paroxysm was nearly fatal. Maria was in consequence but little better, and the unexpected result of her own injudicious conduct nearly distracted the unhappy mother. But it was too late to retrieve their error: the die was thrown. Hartpole was inflexible; and the first I heard of it was Maria’s departure to her father’s, and a final separation:—and thus, after a marriage of a few months, that ill-starred young man, completely the sport of fortune, became once more solitary! Labouring under the false idea that he could soon conquer his attachment, he made Maria an ample separate maintenance, and determined to go to Lisbon, where he thought a change of scene might, perhaps, restore his peace, and the climate his shattered constitution.

Before he sailed, I endeavoured in vain to reconcile them. She did not love him well enough to risk a further residence at Shrewl, in the absence of her connexions; and his mind was case-hardened against the whole family from which she sprang. His reasons to me for parting from her finally were at least plausible.

“I acquit her at once,” said he, “of ever having shown a symptom of impropriety, nay, even of giddiness: there I was wrong, and I own it: but she has proved herself perfectly capable of, and expert at, deception; and the woman that has practised deception for my sake would be equally capable of practising it for her own. So far from curing my error, she has confirmed me in it; and when confidence ceases separation ought to ensue.”

Hartpole shortly after embarked for Portugal, and only returned to terminate his short career by a lingering and painful death.

On his arrival at Lisbon without any amendment either in mind or body, I felt, and I am sure he did himself, that the world was fast receding from him. The rough manners of one Lieutenant Waters, the person whom he had chosen as a led captain, were little congenial to his own characteristic mildness. He had, however, Simon, a most faithful Scotch valet; and after a few posts, I conceived, from his letters, that his spirits had very much improved, when a circumstance occurred which, had he been in health, would have been merely ludicrous; but which the shattered state of his nerves rendered him almost incapable of bearing up against.

On his marriage he had given the commission in the army which he then held to Mr. Otway, his brother-in-law (I believe, now, General Otway); on his separation, however, he determined to resume the profession, and accordingly purchased a commission in a regiment of the line then raising by his uncle the late Lord Aldborough; and he had been gazetted previously to his departure.

After he had been a short time at Lisbon, some mischievous person, for some mischievous object, informed his uncle that he had been dead a fortnight! and, without further inquiry, that nobleman resold George’s commission, and an announcement appeared in the newspapers, that Hartpole had fallen a victim at Lisbon, to consumption, the rapid progress of which had rendered his case hopeless even before he quitted Ireland,—adding the name of the party who had succeeded him in his regiment.

Now the fact was, that the climate of Lisbon had been of great service to his health; and he was quickly recovering strength and spirits when, taking up, one day, an English paper, he read the above-mentioned paragraph.

His valet described to me coarsely the instantaneous effect of this circumstance on his master’s mind. It seemed to proclaim his fate by anticipation:—his commission was disposed of, under the idea that he was actually dead; every melancholy reflection crowded upon him; he totally relapsed; and I firmly believe that paragraph was his death-blow. After lingering several months longer, he returned to England, and I received a letter requesting me to meet him without delay at Bristol, and stating that he had made his will. I immediately undertook the journey, and took him over a horse which I conceived adapted to him at that time. His sister (the present Mrs. Bowen, of Rutland-square) was with him. His figure was emaciated to the last degree, and he was sinking rapidly into the grave. He was attended by a very clever young physician of that place, a Doctor Barrow, and I soon perceived that the doctor had fallen a victim to the charms of Miss Hartpole.

The patient had, however, declined but little in appetite, when the disorder fixed itself in his throat, and he ceased to have the power of eating: he now entirely gave himself up as a person who must die of hunger. This melancholy scene almost distracted me. The doctor gave us little consolation; and Hartpole himself, though reduced to such a state, was really the most cheerful of the party, evincing a degree of resignation at once heroic and touching. His will had been prepared by Mr. Lemans of Bristol, (to me a perfect stranger,) and executed whilst I was in Ireland: he informed us all that I was joint executor with two of his uncles.

On the morning of Hartpole’s death he sent for me to rise and come to him. I found him in an agony of hunger—perspiration in large drops rolling down his face. He said neither food nor liquid could descend into his stomach; that his ribs had contracted inward, as if convulsively drawn together; and that he was in great pain. I cannot describe my emotion! He walked about his room and spoke to me earnestly on many subjects, on some of which I have been, and ever shall be, totally silent. At length he called me to the window:—“Barrington,” said he, “you see at a distance a very green field?” “Yes,” I replied. “Well,” continued George, “it is my dying request that I may be buried there to-morrow evening.”

He spoke so calmly and strongly, that I felt much surprised. He observed this, and said, “It is true: I am in the agonies of death.” I now called in the doctor and Hartpole’s servant: the invalid sat down upon the bed; and when he took me by the hand, I shuddered, for it was burning hot, whilst every nerve and sinew seemed to be in spasmodic action, then iced and clammy. I never had been in collision with a dying person before: he pressed my hand with great fervour, and murmured, “My friend!”—these were the last words I heard him utter. I looked in his face: his eyes were glazed—his lips quivered—he laid his head on the pillow, and expired.

This awful scene, to me so perfectly new, overpowered me, and for a few minutes I was myself totally insensible.

I disobeyed Hartpole’s injunctions respecting his funeral; for I had his body enclosed in a leaden coffin and sent to be interred at Shrewl Castle, in the cemetery of his ancestors, wherein his remains were not admitted without much reluctance by his ungrateful sister and her husband, who resided there in his absence.

On the reading of the will, his first bequest appeared to be to “his friend Barrington, six thousand pounds,” together with the reversion of his landed estates and collieries, by moieties, on the death of each of his sisters without children: one had been some years married and had none; the other was unmarried, but soon after made a match with a respectable gentleman of very considerable property, but whom I should think few young ladies of fortune would have fancied.

The uncles would not act as executors; considered me as an interloper; and commenced a suit to annul the will, as prepared under undue influence. Fortunately for my reputation, I had never known or even seen the persons who prepared it. I was in another kingdom at the time, and had not seen Hartpole for many months before its execution: his sister was with him; not I.—I was utterly unacquainted with his will or its contents.

I got a decree without delay. The family of Stratford, who preferred law to all other species of pastime, appealed. My decree was confirmed, and they were burdened with the whole costs; and in effect paid me six thousand pounds, on an amicable arrangement. My reversion yielded me nothing; for I fancy the sisters have since had nearly twenty children between them to inherit it.

Thus ended Hartpole’s life, and thus did a family become extinct, of the most respectable description. I neither looked to nor expected any legacy from my friend, beyond a mourning-ring. He left numerous other bequests, including a considerable one to Mary Sleven, whose fate I never heard.

The sequel of Maria Otway’s history was not much less melancholy than that of her unhappy partner, as she died prematurely, by the most affecting of all deaths, some time after—childbirth. I saw her after the separation, but never after George’s decease. As I predicted, her style of beauty was not calculated to wear well; and even before she was out of her teens, Maria Otway had been much handsomer. Her manner became more studied—of course, less graceful: and that naïveté, which had rendered her so engaging to my friend, was somewhat superseded by the affectation of fashionable manners.

Maria, I think, never had been attached to Hartpole; and within two years after his decease, she made another and a most unexceptionable match—namely, with Mr. Prittie, the present member for Tipperary: but Providence seemed to pursue fatally even the relict of my friend; and, at the age of twenty-three, death cut off the survivor of that union which an unconcerned spectator would have deemed so auspicious. It was said and believed, (but I do not wish to be understood as vouching the report,) that after Mrs. Prittie’s death a prediction of that event was found written by herself six months before it occurred, designating the precise time of her departure.

I have been diffuse on the memoirs of Hartpole, because I felt myself interested in almost every material event of his career. To overlook our friendship, indeed, and his liberality, would have been ungrateful, in any memoir of myself.[17]

Before I quit these “records,” and the associations which they excite, I am tempted once more to revert to the peculiarities of the Stratford family, which indeed present an ample field for anecdote. More curious or dissimilar characters never, surely, bore the same name.

Earl Robert, one of those who declared war against me on Hartpole’s death, was surnamed “The Peer of a Hundred Wills;” and it is matter of fact, that, upon a trial at law in County Wicklow, since his Lordship’s death, fifty-one different wills were produced, together with a great number of affidavits, &c., also signed by the Earl. Several of these documents are of the most singular description, highly illustrative of the Earl’s character, and I should think among the most extraordinary papers existing.

17.  George Hartpole was sponsor to my only son.

It was a general rule with this peer to make a will or codicil in favour of any person with whom he was desirous of carrying a point,—taking especial care that the party should be made acquainted with his proceeding: no sooner, however, was his end accomplished, and other game started, than a fresh instrument annulled all the provisions of the preceding one! Thus, if desirous of obtaining a lady’s regards, he made a will in her favour, and let her find it by accident. He at length got 50,000l. with a grand-daughter of the Duke of Chandos, and brought her over to Belan.

In the cause before mentioned I was specially retained by the late Earl John, to argue that his brother was mad, and Mr. Plunkett was retained specially as my opponent, to argue that he was sane. In support of our positions it was that the fifty wills were produced; and I hesitate not to say, that either of them, had it emanated from any other individual than his Lordship, would have been deemed conclusive of insanity. But the jury had known the party whose vagaries they were summoned to decide upon; and therefore found, as usual, in favour of his Lordship’s last will. I subsequently asked one of those gentlemen the grounds of their verdict; and his answer was—“We all knew well that the testator was more * * * * * than fool: did you ever hear of any body taking him in?”—and, the truth is, the jury were right; for I never met with a man who had more worldly tact than Robert, Earl of Aldborough, and, owing to my close connexion with his nephew, Hartpole, I had abundant opportunities of judging, as well as by his extraordinary correspondence and transactions with myself.

The present Countess Dowager of Aldborough was in the habit of uttering jeux d’esprit with more spirit and grace than any woman in the world: she often cut deeply; but so keen and polished was the edge of her wit, that the patient was never mangled; or if he was, nobody consoled him in his tortures.

The cause of her naming the Honourable and Reverend Paul Stratford, her brother-in-law, “Holy Paul,” was droll enough. Mount Neil, a remarkably fine old country-house, furnished in the ancient style, was that ecclesiastic’s family mansion, wherein he resided many years, but of which it was thought he at last grew tired. One stormy night, this house (some time after it had been insured to a large amount) most perversely and miraculously took fire: (the common people still say, and verily believe, it was of its own accord:) no water was to be had; of course the flames raged ad libitum: the tenants bustled, jostled, and tumbled over each other, in a general uproar and zeal to save his Reverence’s “great house:” his Reverence alone, meek and resigned, beheld the voracious element devour his hereditary property—piously and audibly attributing the evil solely to the just will of Providence as a punishment for his having vexed his mother some years before, when she was troubled with a dropsy. Under this impression, the Honourable and Reverend Paul adopted the only rational and pious means of extinguishing the conflagration: he fell on his bare knees in front of the blazing pile, and, with clasped and uplifted hands, and in the tone of a saint during his martyrdom, besought the Lord to show him mercy, and extinguish a flame which was setting all human aid at defiance! The people around, however, did not place equal reliance on the interposition of Providence,—which, as a country fellow very judiciously observed, “might be employed somewhere else at the time, and unable to look to his Reverence’s consarns:” so they continued, while practicable, to bring out the furniture piecemeal, and range it on the grass-plat. Paul no sooner perceived the result of their exertions than, still on his knees, he cried out—“Stop! stop! throw all my valuable goods and chattels back into the flames! never fly, my friends, in the face of Heaven! When the Almighty resolved to burn my house, he most certainly intended to burn the furniture. I feel resigned. The Lord’s will be done! Throw it all back again!”

The tenants reluctantly obeyed his orders; but, unfortunately for “Holy Paul,” the Insurance Company, when applied to for payment of his losses, differed altogether from his Reverence as to the agency of Providence, and absolutely refused to pay any part of the damage incurred. Paul declared it would be a crime in him to insist by a law-suit upon payment; and that he’d rather lose all his insurance than bring any act of Providence into the Court of Exchequer, which never was renowned for any great skill in ecclesiastical polity. In tithe cases, they showed no sort of partiality to the clergy; and never would pay the least attention in any instance to assertions from the board of first-fruits without putting the clergy to the trouble of producing their witnesses.

The Honourable and Rev. Paul, however, got into disrepute by this occurrence, and his nephew declined being married by him. In fact, the fault of Holy Paul was, love of money: he had very good property, but was totally averse to paying away any thing. He was put into prison by his niece’s husband, where he long remained rather than render an account; and when at length he settled the whole demand, refused to pay a few pounds fees, and continued voluntarily in confinement until his death. Notwithstanding, greatly to his credit, he bestowed large sums in charity.


Sketch of the character of Mr. Hamilton Rowan—His Quixotic spirit of philanthropy—Case of Mary Neil taken up by Mr. Rowan—Dinner-club among the briefless barristers of Dublin—Apparition of Mr. Hamilton Rowan and his dog—More frightened than hurt—An unanswerable query—Mr. Rowan’s subsequent adventures—The Rev. Mr. Jackson—He is brought up to receive sentence for high-treason, and expires in Court.

There were few persons whose history was connected with that of Ireland during my time, who excited my interest in a greater degree than Mr. Hamilton Rowan. Points of this gentleman’s character have been unfavourably represented by persons who knew little or nothing of his life, and that too, long after he had ceased to be a politician. I may claim perfect disinterestedness when I state that I never had the least social intercourse with Mr. Rowan, whose line of politics was decidedly opposed to my own.

Archibald Hamilton Rowan (I believe he still lives) is a gentleman of most respectable family and of ample fortune: considered merely as a private character, I fancy there are few who will not give him full credit for every quality which does honour to his station in society. As a philanthropist, he certainly carried his ideas even beyond reason, and to a degree of excess which I really think laid in his mind the foundation of all his enthusiastic proceedings, both in common life and in politics.

The first interview I had with this gentleman did not occupy more than a few minutes; but it was of a most impressive nature, and though now nearly forty years back, appears as fresh to my eye as if it took place yesterday: in truth, I believe it must be equally present to every individual of the company who survives, and is not too old to remember any thing.

There is generally in every metropolis some temporary incident which serves as a common subject of conversation; something which nominally excites interest, but which in fact nobody cares a sous about, though for the day it sells all the newspapers, and gives employment to every tongue, till some new occurrence happens to work up curiosity and change the topic.

In 1788, a very young girl, of the name of Mary Neil, had been ill-treated by a person unknown, aided by a woman. The late Lord Carhampton was reported to be the transgressor, but without any proof whatsoever of his Lordship’s culpability. The humour of Hamilton Rowan, which had a sort of Quixotic tendency to resist all oppression and to redress every species of wrong, led him to take up the cause of Mary Neil with a zeal and enthusiastic perseverance which nobody but the knight of La Mancha could have exceeded. Day and night the ill-treatment of this girl was the subject of his thoughts, his actions, his dreams: he even went about preaching a kind of crusade in her favour, and succeeded in gaining a great many partisans among the citizens; and, in short, he eventually obtained a legal conviction of the woman as accessory to a crime, the perpetrator whereof remained undiscovered, and she accordingly received, and most justly, sentence of death. Still Mary Neil was not bettered by this conviction: she was utterly unprovided for, had suffered much, and was quite wretched. Yet there were not wanting persons who doubted her truth, decried her former character, and represented her story as that of an impostor: this, though not credited, not only hurt the feelings and philanthropy, but the pride of Hamilton Rowan; and he vowed personal vengeance against all her calumniators, high and low.

At this time about twenty young barristers, including myself, had formed a dinner-club in Dublin: we had taken large apartments for the purpose; and, as we were not yet troubled with too much business, were in the habit of faring luxuriously every day, and taking a bottle of the best claret which could be obtained.[18]

18.  One of us, Counsellor Townley Fitgate, (afterwards chairman of Wicklow County,) having a pleasure-cutter of his own in the harbour of Dublin, used to send her to smuggle claret for us from the Isle of Man: he made a friend of one of the tide-waiters, and we consequently had the very best wines on the cheapest possible terms.

There never existed a more cheerful, witty, nor half so cheap a dinner-club. One day, whilst dining with our usual hilarity, the servant informed us that a gentleman below stairs desired to be admitted for a moment. We considered it to be some brother-barrister who requested permission to join our party, and desired him to be shown up. What was our surprise, however, on perceiving the figure that presented itself!—a man, who might have served as a model for a Hercules, his gigantic limbs conveying the idea of almost supernatural strength: his shoulders, arms, and broad chest, were the very emblems of muscular energy; and his flat, rough countenance, overshadowed by enormous dark eyebrows, and deeply furrowed by strong lines of vigour and fortitude, completed one of the finest, yet most formidable figures I had ever beheld. He was very well dressed: close by his side stalked in a baggy Newfoundland dog of corresponding magnitude, with hair a foot long, and who, if he should be voraciously inclined, seemed well able to devour a barrister or two without overcharging his stomach:—as he entered, indeed, he alternately looked at us and then up at his master, as if only awaiting the orders of the latter to commence the “onslaught.” His master held in his hand a large, yellow, knotted club, slung by a leathern thong round his great wrist: he had also a long small-sword by his side, adorned by a purple ribbon.

This apparition walked deliberately up to the table; and having made his obeisance with seeming courtesy, a short pause ensued, during which he looked round on all the company with an aspect, if not stern, yet ill-calculated to set our minds at ease either as to his or his dog’s ulterior intentions.

“Gentlemen!” at length he said, in a tone and with an air at once so mild and courteous, nay, so polished, as fairly to give the lie, as it were, to his gigantic and threatening figure: “Gentlemen! I have heard with very great regret that some members of this club have been so indiscreet as to calumniate the character of Mary Neil, which, from the part I have taken, I feel identified with my own: if any gentleman present hath done so, I doubt not he will now have the candour and courage to avow it.—Who avows it?” The dog looked up at him again: he returned the glance; but contented himself, for the present, with patting the animal’s head, and was silent: so were we. He repeated, “Who avows it?”

The extreme surprise indeed with which our party was seized, bordering almost on consternation, rendered all consultation as to a reply out of the question; and never did I see the old axiom, that “what is every body’s business is nobody’s business,” more thoroughly exemplified. A few of the company whispered each his neighbour, and I perceived one or two steal a fruit-knife under the table-cloth, in case of extremities; but no one made any reply. We were eighteen in number; and as neither would or could answer for the others, it would require eighteen replies to satisfy the giant’s single query; and I fancy some of us could not have replied to his satisfaction, and stuck to the truth into the bargain.

He repeated his demand (elevating his tone each time) thrice: “Does any gentleman avow it?” A faint buzz now circulated round the room, but there was no answer whatsoever. Communication was cut off, and there was a dead silence: at length our visitor said, with a loud voice, that he must suppose, if any gentleman had made observations or assertions against Mary Neil’s character, he would have had the courage and spirit to avow it: “therefore,” continued he, “I shall take it for granted that my information was erroneous; and, in that point of view, I regret having alarmed your society.” And, without another word, he bowed three times very low, and retired backward toward the door, (his dog also backing out with equal politeness,) where, with a parting salute doubly ceremonious, Mr. Rowan ended this extraordinary interview. On the first of his departing bows, by a simultaneous impulse, we all rose and returned his compliments, almost touching the table with our noses, but still in profound silence; which bowing on both sides was repeated, as I have said, till he was fairly out of the room. Three or four of the company then ran hastily to the window to be sure that he and the dog were clear off into the street; and no sooner had this satisfactory dénouement been ascertained, than a general roar of laughter ensued, and we talked it over in a hundred different ways: the whole of our arguments, however, turned upon the question “which had behaved the politest upon the occasion?” but not one word was uttered as to which had behaved the stoutest.

This spirit of false chivalry, which took such entire possession of Hamilton Rowan’s understanding, was soon diverted into the channels of political theory; and from the discussion of general politics, he advanced blindly, but I really believe with the best intentions, to the contemplation of sedition. His career in this respect was short:—he was tried and convicted of circulating a factious paper, and sentenced to a heavy fine and a long imprisonment, during which, political charges of a much more serious nature were arrayed against him. He fortunately escaped from prison to the house of Mr. Evans, of Portranne, near Dublin, and got off in a fishing-boat to France, where, after numerous dangers, he at length arrived safely.—Mr. Rowan subsequently resided some years in America, in which country he had leisure for reflection, and saw plainly the folly and mischief of his former conduct. The government found that his contrition was sincere: he eventually received his Majesty’s free pardon; and I have since seen him and his family at the Castle drawing-rooms in dresses singularly splendid, where they were well received by the Viceroy and by many of the nobility and gentry: and people should consider that his Majesty’s free pardon for political offences is always meant to wipe away every injurious feeling from his subjects’ recollection:—where the error was unaccompanied by any moral crime, it left no stigma whatever on private character.

The mention of Mr. Rowan reminds me of an anecdote of a singular nature, extremely affecting, and which at the time was the subject of much conversation: and as a connexion was alleged to exist between him and the unfortunate gentleman to whom it relates, (which connexion had nearly proved fatal to Mr. Rowan,) I consider this not an inappropriate place to allude to the circumstance.

Mr. Jackson, an English clergyman, who had come over to assist in organising a revolution in Ireland, had been arrested in that country, tried, and found guilty of high treason in corresponding with the enemy in France. I was in court when Mr. Jackson was brought up to receive sentence of death; and I believe whoever was present must recollect it as one of the most touching and uncommon scenes which appeared during that eventful period.

He was conducted into the usual place where prisoners stand to receive sentence. He was obviously much affected as he entered; his limbs seemed to totter, and large drops of perspiration rolled down his face. He was supposed to fear death, and to be in great terror. The judge began the usual admonition before he pronounced sentence: the prisoner seemed to regard it but little, appearing abstracted by internal agony. This was still attributed to apprehension: he covered his face, and seemed sinking: the judge paused—the crowd evinced surprise—and the sheriff, on examination, declared the prisoner was too ill to hear his sentence. Meanwhile, the wretched culprit continued to droop: and at length, his limbs giving way, he fell! A visitation so unexampled created a great sensation in the court: a physician was immediately summoned, but too late; Jackson had eluded his sentence, and was no more.

It was discovered that, previous to his coming into Court, he had taken a large quantity of arsenic and aqua-fortis mixed in tea. No judgment of course was pronounced against him. He had a splendid funeral: and, to the astonishment of Dublin, it was thoughtlessly attended by some members of parliament and barristers!

It is a singular but a true observation, that I was always on friendly, nay intimate, terms with many leading persons of the two most hostile and intolerant political bodies that could possibly exist together in one country; and in the midst of the most tumultuous and bloody scenes, I did not find that I had an enemy. It is nearly unaccountable, that my attachment to the government, and my activity in support of it, yet placed me in no danger from its inveterate enemies:—and in several instances I was sought as mediator between the rebels and Lord Kilwarden (then attorney-general).[19] Now he is no more, it is but justice to say, that of all the law officers and official servants of the Crown I ever had communication with, the most kind-hearted, clement, and honourable, was he whose manners and whose name conveyed a different impression. I know that he had been solicited to take some harsh measures as to the barristers who attended Jackson’s funeral; and though he might have been colourably justified in doing so, he said “that both the honour of his profession and the feelings of his own mind prevented him from giving publicity to, or stamping as a crime, what he was sure in its nature could only be inadvertency.”

19.  He was at that time Mr. Wolfe. An information ex officio had been filed against a printer in Cork for a seditious newspaper: it turned out that the two Counsellors Sheers were the real editors. They begged of me to mediate with the attorney-general. He had always a strong feeling for the honour and character of his profession, and forgave all parties, on conditions which I all but vouched for, but to which they certainly did not adhere.


An Irish peasant cutting his own head off by mistake—His reputed ghost—Humours of an Irish WakeNatural deaths of the Irish peasantry—Reflections on the Excise laws.

Among my memorandums of singular incidents, I find one which even now affords me as much amusement as such a circumstance can possibly admit of: and as it is, at the same time, highly characteristic of the people among whom it occurred, in that view I relate it. A man decapitating himself by mistake is indeed a blunder of true Hibernian character.[20]

20.  This anecdote has been termed “fabulous” by some of the sapient periodical critics, and a “bounce” by others. “’Tis quite impossible,” say the scribblers, “for any man to cut his own head off.” This no doubt singular decapitation, however, happens to be a well known and comparatively recent fact; and if either of the aforesaid sceptics will be so obliging as to try the same species of guillotine that Ned did at the Barrow water, he may, with the greatest facility, get rid of, probably, the thickest and heaviest article belonging to him.

The Emperor of Morocco, it is said, to convince his subjects what an easy matter decapitation was, and what an uncertain tenure a head has in his dominions, used to cut off the head of a jack-ass every morning with one back stroke of his sabre. Should his copper-coloured Majesty honour England with his august presence, to be feasted, fire-worked, and subsidised like Don Miguel the First, what noble practice at decapitation, in the absence of his jack-asses, he might have in London among the periodical scribblers—without doing much injury to the animals themselves, and none at all either to the “Société des lettres,” or what is called in England the “discerning public.”

I think it was in or about the year 1796, a labourer dwelling near the town of Athy, County Kildare (where my mother then resided), was walking with his comrade up the banks of the Barrow to the farm of a Mr. Richardson, on whose meadows they were employed to mow; each, in the usual Irish way, having his scythe loosely wagging over his shoulder. Lazily lounging close to the bank of the river, they espied a salmon partly hid under the bank. It is the nature of this fish that, when his head is concealed, he fancies no one can see his tail (there are many wise-acres in the world, besides the salmon, of the same way of thinking). On the present occasion the body of the fish was visible.

“Oh! Ned—Ned, dear!” said one of the mowers, “look at that big fellow there: it is a pity we ha’nt no spear, now, isn’t it?”

“Maybe,” said Ned, “we could be after piking the lad with the scythe-handle.”

“True for you!” said Dennis: “the spike of yeer handle is longer nor mine; give the fellow a dig with it at any rate.”

“Ay, will I,” returned the other: “I’ll give the lad a prod he’ll never forget any how.”

The spike and their sport was all they thought of: but the blade of the scythe, which hung over Ned’s shoulders, never came into the contemplation of either of them. Ned cautiously looked over the bank; the unconscious salmon lay snug, little imagining the conspiracy that had been formed against his tail.

“Now hit the lad smart!” said Dennis: “there, now—there! rise your fist: now you have the boy! now, Ned—success!—success!”

Ned struck at the salmon with all his might and main, and that was not trifling. But whether “the boy” was piked or not never appeared; for poor Ned, bending his neck as he struck at the salmon, placed the vertebræ in the most convenient position for unfurnishing his shoulders; and his head came tumbling splash into the Barrow, to the utter astonishment of his comrade, who could not conceive how it could drop off so suddenly. But the next minute he had the consolation of seeing the head attended by one of his own ears, which had been most dexterously sliced off by the same blow which beheaded his comrade.

The head and ear rolled down the river in company, and were picked up with extreme horror at a mill-dam, near Mr. Richardson’s, by one of the miller’s men.

“Who the devil does this head belong to?” exclaimed the miller.—“Oh Christ—!”

“Whoever owned it,” said the man, “had three ears, at any rate, though they don’t match.”

A search being now made, Ned’s headless body was discovered lying half over the bank, and Dennis in a swoon, through fright and loss of blood, was found recumbent by its side. The latter, when brought to himself, (which process was effected by whisky,) recited the whole adventure. The body was attended to the grave by a numerous assemblage of Ned’s countrymen; and the custom of carrying scythes carelessly very much declined. Many accidents had happened before from that cause, and the priest very judiciously told his flock, after the de profundis, that Ned’s misfortune was a “devil’s judgment” for his negligence, whereby he had hurt a child a day or two before.

From that time none of the country-people would on any occasion go after dark to the spot where the catastrophe happened, as they say the doctor stole the head to natomise it; which fact was confirmed by a man without any head being frequently seen by the women and children who were occasionally led to pass the moat of Ascole, not three miles from Athy, in the night-time; and they really believed the apparition to be no other than the ghost of poor Ned Maher looking every where for his head that the doctor had made away with.[21]

21.  This is only mentioned as indicative of the singular flow of ideas of the Irish peasantry. The most serious and solemn events are frequently converted by them into sources of humour and of comic expression that altogether banish any thing under the head of gravity.

The lower orders are never half so happy as at a wake—when they can procure candles, punch, a piper, and tobacco, to enable them to sit and smoke round a human corpse! No matter what death it suffered, or disorder it died of (except indeed the bite of a mad dog). Their hilarity knows no limits; their humorous phrases and remarks flow in a constant stream of quaint wit and pointed repartee, but not in the style or tone of any other people existing. The wake is also their usual place of match-making; and the marriages or misfortunes of the ladies are generally decided on “going home from the wake.”

The cheerfulness of the wake, however, is intermitting:—every hour or two the most melancholy howling that human voices could raise is set up by the keeners, and continued long enough to give the recurrence to mirth and fun increased excitement. These keeners, or mourners, are a set of old women, who practise for general use the most lachrymose notes, high and low, it is possible to conceive—which they turn into a sort of song (without words), at one time sinking into the deepest and most plaintive strains, then, on a sudden, raised into a howl, loud, frightful, and continued nearly to a shriek; and then in long notes descending in a tone of almost supernatural cadence.

They say that this is mimicking wicked souls “undergoing their punishment in purgatory,” and is used as a defiance to the devil, and to show him that the corpse they are waking does not care a “mass for him.” But then, they never trust the corpse to be left alone, because it could make no resistance to Belzebub if he came for it; and a priest always remains in the room to guard the body, if the keeners should happen to go away.

If you ask a country fellow how he can be so merry over a “dead man”—

“Ough! plase your honour,” he will probably reply, “why shouldn’t we be merry when there’s a good corpse to the fore?”

“What do you mean?”

Mane is it?—fy, sure enough, your honour, Father Corcoran says (and the devil so good a guess in the town-land) that after the month’s mind is over, Tom Dempsey, the corpse, will be happier nor any of us.—Ough! your honour! hell to the rap of tythe-cess or hearth-money, he’ll have to pay proctor nor parson!—There’s many a boy in the parish, plase your honour, would not object to be Tom Dempsey, the corpse, fresh and fasting, this blessed morning!”

If you begin to reason with him, he will perhaps say—“Why, plase your honour, sure it’s only his corpse that’s corpsed;—after the masses he’ll be out of pain, and better off nor any gentleman in this same county, except our own landlord, God bless him up or down!”

If you seem to think the defunct’s family will be unhappy in consequence of his death—

“Oh, plase your honour! Tom was a good frind, sure enough, and whilst there’s a shovel and sack in the neighbourhood his family won’t be let to want nothing any how.”

“But his poor wife?”

“Ough! then it’s she that’s sorry for poor Tom, your honour! Whilst the keeners were washing and stretching the corpse, and she crying her eyes out of her head—oh, the cratur!—Father Corcoran whispered all as one as a mass, and plenty of comfort into Mrs. Dempsey’s own ear, cheek by jowl, and by my sowl the devil a drop of a tear came out of her afterward, plase your honour!”

What is termed the Irish cry, is keening on an extensive scale, and is perhaps the most terrific yell ever yet practised in any country.

It is used in processions on the roads, as the people are carrying a dead body to its place of interment—and occasionally, on any great misfortune where the lamentation should be general.

If there are twenty thousand persons in a procession, they all set up the same cry as the keeners, but a hundred times more horrid and appalling. It may be heard many miles from the spot.

One mode formerly of raising the people in the least possible time, was the carrying a coffin under pretence of a burial. The procession, which sets out probably with only a dozen persons, amounts in the course of an hour to some twenty thousand. When once the yell is set up, every person within hearing is expected immediately to join the corpse by the shortest road—scampering across fields, ditches, &c.; so that, as the numbers increase, the roar becomes more tremendous, and answers better than a hundred bells in bringing a population together.

It is usual for every man, woman, and child to pick up a stone or two, as they go along, and throw them into a heap, which tradition sometimes marks out as the site of some remarkable battle, murder, &c.

The above plan was occasionally resorted to by the insurgents in the year 1798; and there can be no doubt, if they all set out with processions at one hour of any given day, that it would be a tremendous species of muster for such a people as the Irish, who are as little known or understood by the generality of the English, as the Cossacks.

This cry certainly is not calculated to excite so great a variety of passions as Mr. Dryden attributes to the music at Alexander’s Feast. But I will venture to assert, that if his Macedonian Majesty had been ever so tipsy, and thoroughly bent upon ever so much mischief, one sudden, thundering burst of the Irish cry in his banqueting-room would have quickly brought Alexander and all his revellers to their senses—rendered their heels as light as their heads—and Miss Thais would have been left by her lover to the protection of Captain Rock and his merry men.

I believe the very best of our composers would find it rather difficult to set the Irish cry to music—though by the new light, every noise whatsoever must be a note or half a note; and it is reported that Mr. Moore and Sir John Stephenson used their joint and several efforts to turn this national cry into melody, but without success. I cannot see why such able persons should fail on so interesting a composition. There are plenty of notes in it whole and half, sharp, flat, and natural;—sufficient to compose any piece of music. It is only therefore to select the best among them scientifically; put an “andante affettuoso” in front; then send it to a barrel organ-builder;—and no doubt it would grind out to the entire satisfaction of the whole Irish population.

This leads me to a digression more important. The superstition of the lower orders of Irish, when death occurs in any peculiar manner, is superlative. In truth, the only three kinds of death they consider as natural are, dying quietly in their own cabins;—being hanged, about the assize-time;—or starving when the potato crop is deficient. All these they regard as matters of course; but any other species of dissolution is contemplated with much horror; though, to be sure, they make no very strong objection to being shot at by a regular army. They say their “fathers and forefathers before them were always used to that same;” and all they expect in such case is, that there should be some sort of reason for it, which they themselves frequently furnish. But those manslaughters which occur through the activity of the revenue-officers in prevention of distillation, they never can reconcile themselves to, and never forgive. They cannot understand the reason for this at all, and treasure up a spirit of savage revenge to the last day of their lives against excisemen.[22]

An ignorant poor cottager says to his landlord, naturally enough, “Ough! then isn’t it mighty odd, plase your honour, that we are not hindered from eating oats, whenever we can get any? but if we attempt to drink them, by J——s, we are kilt and battered and shot and burned out like a parcel of dogs by the excisemen, that’s twice greater rogues nor we are, plase your honour.”

In truth it is to be lamented that this distinction between solids and fluids should not be better reconciled to the common sense of the peasantry, or be somehow regulated so as to prevent perpetual resort to that erroneous system of mountain warfare and revenue bloodshed, which ever has kept, and ever will keep, whole districts of Ireland in a state of excitement and distraction. I know that I speak the sentiments of some of his Majesty’s enlightened Ministers on this subject.

22.  To the imperfection of the excise laws, and the totally erroneous system of licensing public houses, (as to numbers, qualifications, and police regulations respecting them,) is greatly to be attributed the increase of crime of late years.

An unconnected and independent board, for the exclusive purpose of granting licenses and registering complaints; convenient and responsible country branches, and monthly reports, would tend much to produce sobriety, and check those drunken conspiracies, the common sources of robbery and murder. Punishment rather than prevention is the greatest error a police can fall into.


Humorous story of Father O’Leary and a bear—Mistaken notions respecting Ireland on the Continent—Lord Ventry and his tenant: an anecdote characteristic of the Irish peasant.

I frequently had an opportunity of meeting at my father-in-law’s, Mr. Grogan’s, where he often dined, a worthy and celebrated priest, Father O’Leary;—and have listened with great zest to anecdotes which he used to tell with a quaint yet spirited humour quite unique. His manner, his air, his countenance, all bespoke wit, talent, and a good heart. I liked his company excessively, and have often regretted I did not cultivate his acquaintance more, or recollect his witticisms better: but I was then young, not a public person, and somewhat out of his line in society. It was singular, but it was fact, that even before Father O’Leary opened his lips, a stranger would say, “That is an Irishman,” and at the same time guess him to be a priest.

One anecdote, in particular, I remember his relating with singular animation. Coming from St. Omer, he told us, he stopped a few days to visit a brother priest in the town of Boulogne sur Mer (who lives there still). Here he heard of a great curiosity which all the people were running to see,—a curious bear that some fishermen had taken at sea out of a wreck; it had sense, and attempted to utter a sort of lingo which they called patois marine, but which nobody understood.

O’Leary gave his six sous to see the wonder, which was shown at the port by candle-light, and was a very odd kind of animal, no doubt. The bear had been taught a hundred tricks, all to be performed at the keeper’s word of command. It was late in the evening when O’Leary saw him, and the bear seemed sulky: the keeper, however, with a short spike at the end of a pole, made him move about briskly. He marked on sand what o’clock it was with his paw, and distinguished the men and women in a very comical way; in fact, our priest was quite diverted. The beast at length grew tired; the keeper hit him with the pole; he stirred a little, but continued quite sullen: his master coaxed him—no! he would not work! At length, the brute of a keeper gave him two or three sharp pricks with the goad, when he roared out most tremendously, and rising on his hind legs, cursed his tormentor in very good Irish. O’Leary went immediately to the mayor, whom he informed that the blackguards of fishermen had sewed up a poor Irishman in a bear-skin, and were showing him for six sous! This civic dignitary, who had himself seen the bear, would not believe it: at last O’Leary prevailed on him to accompany him to the room. On their arrival the bear was still upon duty; and O’Leary, stepping up to him, says, “Gand e tha hawn, Pat?” (How do you do, Pat?)—“Slonger a mahugouthe,” (Pretty well, thank’ee,) says the bear. The people were surprised to hear how plainly he spoke: but the mayor directly ordered him to be ripped up; and after some opposition and a good deal of difficulty, Pat stepped forth (stark naked) out of the bear-skin wherein he had been fourteen or fifteen days most cleverly stitched. The women made off; the men stood astonished; and the mayor ordered the keepers to be put in gaol unless they satisfied the bear and the authorities, which was presently done. The bear afterward told O’Leary that he was very well fed, and did not care much about the clothing, only they worked him too hard. The fishermen had found him at sea on a hen-coop, which had saved him from going to the bottom with a ship wherein he had a little venture of dried cod from Dungarvon, and which was bound from Waterford to Bilboa. He could not speak a word of any language but Irish, and had never been at sea before. The fishermen had brought him in, fed him well, and endeavoured to repay themselves by showing him as a curiosity.

O’Leary’s mode of telling this story was quite admirable. I never heard any anecdote (and I believe this one to have been true) related with so much genuine drollery, which was enhanced by his not changing a muscle himself, while every one of his hearers was in a paroxysm of laughter.

Another anecdote he used to give, though dry enough in itself, with incomparable dramatic humour. By-the-bye, all his stories were in some way national; and this affords me occasion to remark, that I think Ireland is at this moment nearly as little known on many parts of the continent as it seems to have been then. I have myself heard it more than once spoken of in Brittany as an English town.

At Nancy, where Father O’Leary, as he told us, was travelling, his native country happened to be mentioned; when one of the société, a quiet French farmer of Burgundy, asked in an unassuming tone, “If Ireland stood encore?”—“Encore!” said an astonished John Bull, a courier coming from Germany, “encore! to be sure she does: we have her yet, I assure you, Monsieur.”—“Though neither very safe nor very sound,” interposed an officer of the Irish brigade, who happened to be present, looking over significantly at O’Leary, and not very complacently at the courier.—“And pray, Monsieur,” rejoined the John Bull to the Frenchman, “why encore?”—“Pardon, Monsieur,” replied the Frenchman, “I heard it had been worn out, (fatigué) long ago by the great number of people that were living in it!”

The fact was (I believe it not at all exaggerated), the Frenchman had been told, and really understood, that Ireland was a large house where the English were wont to send their idle vagabonds, and from whence they were drawn out again as they were wanted to fill the ships and army:—and (I speak this from my own personal knowledge,) in some interior parts of the continent the existence of Ireland, as a kingdom, is totally unknown; it is at best considered as about a match for Jersey, or some other little island. On the sea-coasts they are better informed. This need not surprise us, when we have heard of a native of St. Helena formerly, (who never had been out of the island,) who seriously asked an English officer “If there were many landing-places in England?” This may be a standing jest, but it is highly illustrative.

Some ideas of the common Irish are so strange, and uttered so unconsciously, that in the mouths of any other people they might be justly considered profane. In those of my countrymen, however, such expressions are idiomatic, and certainly spoken without the least idea of profanity.

The last Lord Ventry was considered, before his father’s death, the oldest heir-apparent in the Irish Peerage, to which his father (originally low enough) had been raised in 1800, in consequence of an arrangement made with Lord Castlereagh at the time of the Union. He had for many years been bed-ridden, and had advanced to a very great age latterly without any corresponding utility: yet little apprehensions were entertained of his speedy dissolution, and the family were in despair.

A tenant on the estate, the stability of whose lease depended entirely on the son surviving the father, and who was beginning to doubt which of them might die of old age first, said seriously to the heir-apparent, but without the slightest idea of any sort of impropriety either as respected God or man—

“Ah, then, Master Squire Mullins, isn’t it mighty strange that my poor ould landlord (Heaven preserve his noble Lordship!) shou’d lie covered up in the bed all this time past?—I think, plase your honour, that it would be well done to take his Lordship (Lord bless his honour!) up to Crow-Patrick, and hold him up there as high as could be—just to show his Lordship a bit to the Virgin. For I’m sure and sartin, plase your honour, if God Almighty hadn’t quite forgot his Lordship, he would have taken him home to himself long and many a day ago.”

The relation of this anecdote appears to have been ominous, as my Lord the son was also carried off to his forefathers (if he could find them) a few months after the first edition of this work was published.

The eccentric traits of the genuine Irish character are certainly wearing fast away; and if some contemporary of by-gone persons and customs did not take the trouble of recording those traits, they would be considered (if related in future times) as ridiculous fabrications.


Strictures on Dr. Johnson—His biographer, Boswell—False definitions and erroneous ethics—Superstition—Supernatural appearances—Theological argument of the author in favour of his peculiar faith—Original poetry by Miss T * * *—The author purchases Lady Mayo’s demesne, County Wicklow—Terrific and cultivated scenery contrasted—Description of the Golden Belt of Ireland and the beauties of the above-mentioned county—Lord Rossmore—His character—Supernatural incident of a most extraordinary nature, vouched by living witnesses, and attendant on the sudden death of his Lordship.

It is not pleasant to differ essentially from the general opinions of the world, and nothing but a firm belief that we are right can bear us up in so doing. I feel my own fallibility poignantly, when I venture to remark upon the celebrated personage yclept “the great moralist of England.”

To criticise the labours of that giant of literature I am unequal: to detract from his ethics is not my object. But it surely savours not of treason to avow that parts of his Lexicon I condemn, and much of his philosophy I dissent from.

It is fortunate for the sake of truth that Boswell became Johnson’s biographer; for, as the idolaters of China devoutly attach a full proportion of bad qualities to the object of their adoration, so in like manner has “Bozzy” shown no want of candour as to the Doctor’s failings; and if he had reflected on the unkind constructions of this wicked world, his eulogiums would probably have been rendered less fulsome, and his biography yet more correct.—It could not be more entertaining.

The English language had been advancing gradually in its own jog-trot way from the days of Bayley to those of Johnson: it travelled over a plain smooth surface and on a gentle ascent. Every body formerly appeared to understand each other tolerably well: words were then very intelligible, and women, in general, found no difficulty in pronouncing them. But the great lexicographer soon convinced the British people (the Irish are out of the question) that they had been reading, writing, and spouting in a starved, contracted tongue, and that the magnificent dapimibominus’s of the Grecian language were ready in polysyllables to relieve that wretched poverty under which ours had so long languished.

This noble revolution in letters has made a progress so rapid, that I found in one essay of a Magazine, a few months ago, no fewer than twenty words which required me to make as many references to our great Lexicon.

Nobody can deny the miraculous labour which that work must have required: yet now, when enthusiasm has somewhat abated, and no danger exists of being clapper-clawed by the Doctor himself, some ungrateful English grammarians have presumed to assert that, under the gaberdine of so great an authority, any body is lawfully entitled to coin any English word he chooses out of any foreign language he thinks proper; and that we may thus tune up our vocabulary to the key of a lingua franca, an assemblage of all tongues, sounds, and idioms, dead or living. It has also been asserted, since his decease, that the Doctor’s logic is frequently false both in premises and conclusion, his ethics erroneous, his philosophy often unintelligible, and his diction generally bombastic. However, there are so many able and idle gentlemen of law, physic, and divinity, amply educated, with pens stuck behind their ears ready for action, who are much better skilled in the art and practice of criticism than I am, that I shall content myself with commenting on one solitary word out of forty thousand, which word not only bears strongly on my own tenets and faith, but also affects one of the most extraordinary occurrences of my life.

This comprehensive and important word, (which has upon occasion puzzled me more than any other in the English language,) is “superstition:”—whereof one of the definitions given by the Doctor, in his Lexicon, appears to be rather inconsiderate, namely,—“religion without morality.”—Now, I freely and fully admit that I am superstitious, yet I think it is rather severe and somewhat singular in the Doctor to admit my religion and extinguish my morality, which I always considered as marching hand in hand—or, in truth, I thought the latter should go foremost.

When Dr. Johnson began to learn his own ideas of morality does not appear (certainly not from his friend Savage):—I suppose not until he got an honorary degree from the pedants of Oxford. Collegiate degrees in general, however, work no great reformation, I am inclined to believe, in morality; at least I am certain that when I became a Doctor of Laws I did not feel my morals in the least improved by my diploma. I wish the candid Boswell had mentioned the precise epocha of the Doctor’s reformation (for he admits him to have been a little wild in his youth); and then we might have judged under what state of mind he gave the strange definition of “religion without morality.”

For myself, I consider faith, grounded on the phenomena of Nature, not the faith of sectarianism or fanaticism, as the true source and foundation of morality;—and morality as the true source and foundation of religion.

No human demonstration can cope with that presented by the face of Nature. What proof so infallible as that the sun produces light and heat and vegetation?[23]—that the tides ebb and flow—that the thunder rolls—that the lightning flashes—that the planets shine?[24] Who can gaze on the vast orb of day without feeling that it is the visible demonstration of a superior Being, convincing our reason and our senses, and even the scanty reason of illiterate savages?

23.  The following lines are by Miss M. Tylden, the young poetess whom I have before mentioned, and shall again allude to more fully. In my humble opinion, there are not fourteen consecutive lines in the English language superior in true sublimity both of thought and language:

The sun is in the empire of his light,
Throned in the mighty solitude of heaven:
He seems the visible Omnipotent
Dwelling in glory:—his high sanctuary
Do the eyes worship, and, thereon as if
Impiety to gaze, the senses reel,
Drunk with the spirit of his deep refulgence.
Circle of glory!—Diadem of heaven!
Cast in the mould of bright eternity,
And bodying forth the attributes of Him
Who made thee of this visible world supreme;
And thou becamest a wonder and a praise,—
A worship—yea, a pure idolatry!
The image of the glories of our God.

I look upon the personification of God to be the excess of blasphemy.

24.  The reader may deem it curious to compare the two following stanzas—the first graced with the great name of Mr. Addison; the second the performance of my accomplished young friend, and extracted from her common-place book, without any opportunity given for revision.—She is ignorant that I have published a line of hers.

The spacious firmament on high,
With all the blue ethereal sky,
And spangled heavens—a shining frame!
Their great Original proclaim.
In Reason’s ear they all rejoice,
And utter forth a glorious voice;
For ever singing, as they shine,
“The hand that made us is divine!”
Ye living fires in yon eternal dome,—
Ye lamps, whose light is immortality,—
Hung forth in mercy from our Father’s house,
As beacon-lights to guide us to our God!
Ye are ordain’d man’s faithful monitors,
Gazing like heavenly eyes upon our deeds,
Till guilt is awed, and shrinks beneath your glance.
Ye bright and visible rewards! held forth
From God’s high sanctuary, to work in us
A pure ambition for eternal things,
And glories which our spirit heaves to grasp!
M. Tylden.

It is foreign from the intention of this work to dilate on theoretical subjects of any kind: suffice it to say, that the following are simply my own sentiments, which I must be permitted to retain, and which indeed nothing on this side the grave can shake.

The omnipotence of the Deity in our creation and destruction—in the union and separation of our bodies and souls—and in rendering the latter responsible for the acts of the former,—no Christian denies: and if the Deity be thus omnipotent in forming, destroying, uniting, separating, and judging, he must be equally omnipotent in reproducing that spirit and that form which he originally created, and which remain subject to his will, and always in his power.

It follows, therefore, that the Omnipotent Creator may at will reproduce that spirit which he reserves for future judgment, or the semblance of that body which he created, and which once contained the undecaying soul. The smallest atom which floats in the sunbeam cannot (as every body knows), from the nature of matter, be actually annihilated: death consequently only decomposes the materials whereof our bodies are formed, and the indestructible atoms remain susceptible of recombination. The Christian tenets maintain that the soul and body must appear for judgment, and why not before judgment,—if so willed by the Almighty? The main argument which I have heard against such appearances tends nearly as much to mislead, as a general disbelief or denial of Omnipotence—namely, that though this power may exist in the Deity, he never would permit such spectacles on the earth, to terrify the timorous, and give occasion to paltering with the credulity of his creatures.

It is truly surprising how rational and pious men can resort to the reasoning of infidels. When we admit the Omnipotence, we are bound likewise to admit the Omniscience of the Deity; and presumptuous indeed must that man be who overlooks the contractedness of his own intellectual vision, or asserts that, because he cannot see a reason for a supernatural interference, none therefore can exist in the eye of the Supreme.

The objects of God are inscrutable: an appearance of the departed upon earth may have consequences which none—not even those who are affected by it,—can either discover or suppose.[25] Can any human wisdom presume to divine—why man was originally created at all? why one man is cut short in high-blooming health and youth, and another lingers long in age and decrepitude? why the best of men are frequently the most unfortunate, and the greatest villains the most prosperous? why the heinous criminal escapes in triumph, and the innocent being is destroyed by torture? And is the production of a supernatural appearance, for the inscrutable purposes of God, more extraordinary, or less credible, than these other ordinations of the Deity, or than all those unaccountable phenomena of nature, which are only, as the rising and setting sun, disregarded by common minds from the frequency of their occurrence?

25.  Nothing in print places my theory in so distinct, clear, and pleasing a point of view as Parnell’s Hermit,—a strong, moral, and impressive tale,—beautiful in poetry, and abounding in instruction. There the Omniscience of God is exemplified by human incidents, and the mysterious causes of his actions brought home to the commonest capacity. The moral of that short and simple tale says more than a hundred volumes of dogmatic controversies!—The following couplets appear to me extremely impressive:—

The Maker justly claims that world he made:
In this the right of Providence is laid:
Its sacred majesty, through all, depends
On using second means to work its ends.
What strange events can strike with more surprise
Than those which lately struck thy wondering eyes?
Yet, taught by these, confess the Almighty just;
And where you can’t unriddle, learn to trust.

This is a subject whereon I feel, and always have felt, strongly and seriously; and hence it is that I have been led into so long an exordium. I regard the belief in supernatural apparitions as inseparable from my Christian faith and my view of Divine Omnipotence; and however good and learned individuals may impugn my reasoning, I have the consolation of knowing that the bench of bishops, the Pope, the very best and wisest Doctors in Divinity and Masters of Arts; in fact, all the collegians and scholars in the universe, can possibly have no better or truer information upon the subject than myself; that I am as much in my senses as any of them; and that the Deity has made no sort of distinction between the intellectual capacity of a bishop and a judge; the secrets of Heaven being divulged to neither. The judge does justice to other people, and the bishop does justice to himself; but both are equally ignorant of the mysteries of futurity, and must alike wait until they pass the dim boundary of this world before they can gain any practical information as to the next. When a military captain is ordained a clergyman, (as is somewhat the fashion during the peace establishment,) does he become one atom wiser or more knowing as to futurity than when he was in the army?—probably, on the other hand, he thinks much less about the matter than when standing upon the field of battle.

I would not have the reader imagine that I should be found ready to receive any idle ghost story which might be told me.—So far contrary, I have always been of opinion that no incident or appearance, (and I have expressed as much before in this work,) however strange, should be considered as supernatural which could in any way be otherwise accounted for, or referred to natural or human agency.

I will proceed at once to the little narrative thus importantly prefaced. The circumstances will, I think, be admitted as of an extraordinary nature: they were not connected with the workings of imagination; depended not on the fancy of a single individual: the occurrence was, altogether, both in its character and in its possible application, far beyond the speculations of man. But let me endeavour to soften and prepare my mind for the strange recital by some more pleasing recollections connected with the principal subject of it.

Immediately after the rebellion of 1798, the Countess Dowager of Mayo discovered a man concealed under her bed, and was so terrified that she instantly fled from her country residence in the most beautiful part of County Wicklow: she departed for Dublin, whence she immediately sailed for England, and never after returned. Her ladyship directed her agent, Mr. Davis, immediately to dispose of her residence, demesne, and every thing within the house and on the grounds, for whatever they might bring. All property in the disturbed districts being then of small comparative value, and there having been a battle fought at Mount Kennedy, near her house, a short time previous, I purchased the whole estate, as it stood, at a very moderate price, and on the ensuing day was put into possession of my new mansion. I found a house not large, but very neat and in good order, with a considerable quantity of furniture, some excellent wines, &c. and the lands in full produce. The demesne was not extensive, but delightfully situated in a district which, I believe, for the union of rural beauties and mild uniformity of climate, few spots can excel.

I have already disclaimed all pretensions, as a writer, to the power of scenic description or imaginary landscape—though no person existing is more gratified than myself with the contemplation of splendid scenery. In saying this, however, I do not mean that savage sublimity of landscape—that majestic assemblage of stupendous mountain and roaring cataract—of colossal rocks and innumerable precipices—where Nature appears to designate to the bear and the eagle, to the boar or chamois—those trackless wilds which she originally created for their peculiar accommodation. To the enthusiastic sketcher and the high-wrought tourist I yield an exclusive right to those interesting regions, which are far too sublime for my ordinary pencil. I prefer that luxurious scenery where the art and industry of man go hand in hand with the embellishments of Nature, where beauty is unaccompanied by danger,—sublimity has no horrors; and Providence, smiling, combines her blessings with her beauties.

Were I asked to exemplify my ideas of rural, animated, cheering landscape, I should say—“My friend, travel!—visit that narrow region which we call the Golden Belt of Ireland;[26] explore every mile from the metropolis to the ‘meeting of the waters:’ journey which side you please, you will find the native myrtle and indigenous arbutus glowing throughout the severest winter, and forming the cottage fences, together with the waving cypress and the sweet acacia.”

26.  That lovely district extends about thirty miles in length, and from four to seven in breadth: it commences near Dublin, and ends at a short distance beyond Avondale: the soil is generally a warm gravel, with verdant valleys, bounded by mountains arable to their summits on one side, and by the sea upon the other. The gold mine is on a frontier of this district; and it is perhaps the most congenial to the growth of trees and shrubs of any spot in the British dominions.

The scenery of Wicklow is doubtless on a minor scale, quite unable to compete with the grandeur and immensity of continental landscape; even to our own Killarney it is not comparable; but it possesses a genial glowing luxury, a contrast and a variety, whereof more elevated extensive scenery is often destitute. It is small, but it is in the world: its beauties seem alive. It blooms: it blossoms: the mellow climate extracts from every shrub a tribute of its fragrance; and the atmosphere, saturated with the perfumes of nature, creates that delicious medium through which refreshing showers descend to brighten the hue and revive the odour of the lively evergreen!

I frankly admit myself an enthusiast as to that lovely district. In truth, I fear I should have been enthusiastic on many points, had not law, the most powerful antidote to all refined enthusiasm, interposed to check its growth.

The site of my sylvan residence, Drummon, was nearly in the centre of the Golden Belt, about fifteen miles from the capital;—but owing to the varied nature of the country, it appeared far more distant. Bounded by the beautiful glen of the Downs, at the foot of the magnificent Bellevue, and the more distant sugar-loaf mountain of the Dargle, Tynnehinch, (where is seated that cottage celebrated for its unrivalled scenery, and honoured by the residence of Ireland’s first patriot,) the dark deep glen, the black lake, and mystic vale and rocks of Luggelough, (that nursery of eagles and of falcons,) contrasted quite magically with the highly cultivated beauties of Drummon: (the parks, and wilds, and sublime cascade of Powerscourt, and the newly-created magnificence of Mount Kennedy, abundantly prove that perfection itself may exist in contrasts:) in fine, I found myself enveloped by the hundred beauties of that enchanting district, which, though of one family, were rendered yet more attractive by the variety of their features; and had I not been tied to laborious duties, I should infallibly have sought refuge there altogether from the cares of the world.

One of the greatest pleasures I enjoyed whilst resident at Drummon, was the near abode of the late Lord Rossmore, at that time commander-in-chief in Ireland. His lordship knew my father, and, from my commencement in public life, had been my friend, and a sincere one. He was a Scotsman born, but had come to Ireland when very young, as page to the lord lieutenant. He had married an heiress; had purchased the estate of Mount Kennedy; built a noble mansion; laid out some of the finest gardens in Ireland; and, in fact, improved the demesne, as far as taste, skill, and money could accomplish. He was what may be called a remarkably fine old man, quite the gentleman, and when at Mount Kennedy quite the country gentleman. He lived in a style few people can attain to: his table, supplied by his own farms, was adapted to the viceroy himself, yet was ever spread for his neighbours: in a word, no man ever kept a more even hand in society than Lord Rossmore, and no man was ever better repaid by universal esteem. Had his connexions possessed his understanding, and practised his habits, they would probably have found more friends when they wanted them.

This intimacy at Mount Kennedy gave rise to an occurrence the most extraordinary and inexplicable of my whole existence—an occurrence which for many years occupied my thoughts, and wrought on my imagination. Lord Rossmore was far advanced in years, but I never heard of his having had a single day’s indisposition. He bore, in his old age, the appearance of robust health. During the viceroyalty of Earl Hardwick Lady Barrington, at a drawing-room at Dublin Castle, met Lord Rossmore. He had been making up one of his weekly parties for Mount Kennedy, to commence the next day, and had sent down orders for every preparation to be made. The lord lieutenant was to be of the company. Every second week his house was filled by persons of the highest circle, interspersed with neighbours.

“My little farmer,” said he to Lady Barrington, addressing her by a pet name, “when you go home, tell Sir Jonah that no business is to prevent him from bringing you down to dine with me tomorrow. I will have no ifs in the matter—so tell him that come he must!” She promised positively, and on her return informed me of her engagement, to which I at once agreed. We retired to our chamber about twelve; and towards two in the morning, I was awakened by a sound of a very extraordinary nature. I listened: it occurred first at short intervals; it resembled neither a voice nor an instrument; it was softer than any voice and wilder than any music, and seemed to float in the air. I don’t know wherefore, but my heart beat forcibly: the sound became still more plaintive, till it almost died away in the air; when a sudden change, as if excited by a pang, changed its tone: it seemed descending. I felt every nerve tremble: it was not a natural sound, nor could I make out the point whence it came.

At length I awakened Lady Barrington: she heard it as well as myself, and suggested that it might be an Eolian harp; but to that instrument it bore no similitude: it was altogether a different character of sound. She at first appeared less affected than myself, but was subsequently more so.

We now went to a large window in our bedroom which looked directly upon a small garden underneath: the sound, which first appeared descending, seemed then obviously to ascend from a grass-plot immediately below our window. It continued: Lady Barrington requested that I would call up her maid, which I did, and she was evidently much more affected than either of us. The sounds lasted for more than half an hour. At last a deep, heavy, throbbing sigh seemed to issue from the spot, and was shortly succeeded by a sharp but low cry, and by the distinct exclamation, thrice repeated, of “Rossmore!—Rossmore!—Rossmore!” I will not attempt to describe my own sensations; indeed I cannot. The maid fled in terror from the window, and it was with difficulty I prevailed on Lady Barrington to return to bed: in about a minute after the sound died gradually away, until all was silent.

Lady Barrington, who is not superstitious, as I am, attributed this circumstance to a hundred different causes, and made me promise that I would not mention it next day at Mount Kennedy, since we should be thereby rendered laughing-stocks. At length, wearied with speculations, we fell into a sound slumber.

About seven the ensuing morning a strong rap at my chamber-door awakened me. The recollection of the past night’s adventure rushed instantly upon my mind, and rendered me very unfit to be taken suddenly on any subject. It was light: I went to the door, when my faithful servant, Lawler, exclaimed, on the other side, “Oh Lord, Sir!”—“What is the matter?” said I hurriedly: “Oh, Sir!” ejaculated he, “Lord Rossmore’s footman was running past the door in great haste, and told me in passing that my lord, after coming from the Castle, had gone to bed in perfect health, but that about half-after two this morning, his own man hearing a noise in his master’s bed (he slept in the same room), went to him, and found him in the agonies of death; and before he could alarm the other servants, all was over!”

I conjecture nothing. I only relate the incident as unequivocally matter of fact: Lord Rossmore was absolutely dying at the moment I heard his name pronounced! Let sceptics draw their own conclusions: perhaps natural causes may be assigned; but I am totally unequal to the discovery.

Atheism may ridicule me: Orthodoxy may despise me: Bigotry may lecture me: Fanaticism might burn me: yet in my very faith I would seek consolation. It is in my mind better to believe too much than too little, and that is the only theological crime I can be fairly accused of.


Remarks on Lady Morgan’s novel of “The Wild Irish Girl,” &c.—Prince O’Sullivan at Killarney—Miss Edgeworth’s “Castle Rackrent”—Memoir of Jonathan Clerk—“Florence Macarthy”—Comparison between Lady Morgan and Thomas Moore as writers—The author’s knowledge of both—“Captain Rock” condemned—The “Irish Melodies” by Moore—The harmonising of them by Sir John Stevenson injurious to the national music—Anecdote of Mr. Thomas Moore and Mrs. K * * * y.

It is remarkable that the various gradations of habit and society in Ireland have been best illustrated by two female authors,—the one of more imaginative, the other of purer narrative powers; but each, in her respective line, possessing very considerable merit.

Though a fiction not free from some inaccuracies, much inappropriate dialogue, and forced incident, it is impossible to peruse “The Wild Irish Girl” of Lady Morgan without deep interest, or to dispute its claims as a production of true national feeling as well as literary talent.

That tale was the first and is perhaps the best of all her novel writings. Compared with others, it strikingly exhibits the author’s falling off from the simple touches of unsophisticated nature to the less refined conceptions of what she herself styles “fashionable society.”

To persons unacquainted with Ireland, “The Wild Irish Girl” may appear an ordinary tale of romance and fancy; but to such as understand the ancient history of that people, it may be considered as a legend. The authoress might perhaps have had somewhat in view the last descendant of the Irish princes, who did not altogether forget the station of his forefathers.

O’Sullivan, lineally descended from the King of the Lakes, not many years since vegetated on a retired spot of his hereditary dominions at Killarney; and, though overwhelmed by poverty and deprivation, kept up in his mind a visionary dignity. Surveying from his wretched cottage that enchanting territory over which his ancestors had reigned for centuries, I have been told he never ceased to recollect his royal descent. He was a man of gigantic stature and strength; of uncouth, yet authoritative mien—not shaming his pretensions by his presence. He was frequently visited by those who went to view the celebrated lakes, and I have conversed with many who have seen him: but at a period when familiar intercourse has been introduced between actual princes and their subjects, tending undoubtedly to diminish in the latter the sense of individual respect and distance, so wholesome to royalty, the poor descendant of the renowned O’Sullivan had no reason to expect much commiseration from modern sensibility.

The frequent and strange revolutions of the world within the last forty years, the radical alterations in all the material habits of society,—announced the commencement of a new era: and the ascendancy of commerce over rank, and of avarice over every thing, completed the regeneration. But, above all, the loosening of those ties which bound kindred and families, in one common interest, to uphold their race and name;—the extinction of that spirit of chivalry which sustained those ties;—and the common prostitution of the heraldic honours of antiquity;—have steeled the human mind against the lofty and noble pretensions of birth and rank; and while we superficially decry the principles of equality, we are travelling toward them, by the shortest and most dangerous road degeneracy and meanness can point out.

I confess myself to be a determined enemy to the Utopian vision of political and social equality: in the exercise of justice alone should the principle of equality be paramount; in any other sense, it never did, and never can, for any length of time, exist in Europe.

Miss Edgeworth’s “Castle Rackrent” and “Fashionable Tales” are incomparable in truly depicting several traits of the rather modern Irish character: they are perhaps on one point a little overcharged; but, in some parts, may be said to exceed the generality of Lady Morgan’s Irish novels. Fiction is less perceptible in them: they have a greater air of reality—of what I have myself often and often observed and noted in full progress and actual execution throughout my native country. Nothing is exaggerated: the stories and names are coined, but the characters and incidents are “from life.” The landlord, the agent, and the attorney of “Castle Rackrent” (in fact every person it describes) were neither fictitious nor even uncommon characters: and the changes of landed property in the county where I was born (where perhaps they have prevailed to the full as widely as in any other of the united empire) owed, in nine cases out of ten, their origin, progress, and catastrophe to circumstances in no wise differing from those so accurately painted in Miss Edgeworth’s narrative.

Though moderate fortunes have frequently and fairly been realised by agents, yet, to be on the sure side of comfort and security, a country gentleman who wishes to send down his estate in tolerably good order to his family should always be his own receiver, and compromise any claim rather than employ an attorney to arrange it.

I recollect to have seen in Queen’s County a Mr. Clerk, who had been a working carpenter, and when making a bench for the session justices at the court-house, was laughed at for taking peculiar pains in planing and smoothing the seat of it. He smilingly observed, that he did so to make it easy for himself, as he was resolved he would never die till he had a right to sit thereupon: and he kept his word:—he was an industrious man, and became an agent; honest, respectable, and kind-hearted, he succeeded in all his efforts to accumulate an independence: he did accumulate it, and uprightly: his character kept pace with the increase of his property, and he lived to sit as a magistrate on that very bench that he sawed and planed.

I will not quit the subject without saying a word about another of Lady Morgan’s works—“Florence Macarthy,” which, “errors excepted,” possesses an immensity of talent in the delineation of the genuine Irish character. The judges, though no one can mistake them, are totally caricatured; but the Crawleys are superlative, and suffice to bring before my vision, in their full colouring, and almost without a variation, persons and incidents whom and which I have many a time encountered. Nothing is exaggerated as to them; and Crawley himself is the perfect and plain model of the combined agent, attorney, and magistrate—a sort of mongrel functionary whose existence I have repeatedly reprobated, and whom I pronounce to be at this moment the greatest nuisance and mischief experienced by my unfortunate country, and only to be abated by the residence of the great landlords on their estates. No people under heaven could be so easily tranquillised and governed as the Irish: but that desirable end is alone attainable by the personal endeavours of a liberal, humane, and resident aristocracy.

A third writer on Ireland I allude to with more pride on some points, and with less pleasure on others; because, though dubbed “The bard of Ireland,” I have not yet seen many literary productions of his on national subjects that have afforded me unalloyed gratification.

He must not be displeased with the observations of perhaps a truer friend than those who have led him to forget himself. His “Captain Rock” (though, I doubt not, well intended), coming at the time it did and under the sanction of his name, is the most exceptionable publication, in all its bearings as to Ireland, that I have yet seen. Doctor Beattie says, in his Apology for Religion, “if it does no good, it can do no harm:” but, on the contrary, if “Captain Rock” does no harm, it could certainly do no good.

Had it been addressed to, or calculated for, the better orders, the book would have been less noxious: but it is not calculated to instruct those whose influence, example, or residence could either amend or reform the abuses which the author certainly exaggerates. It is not calculated to remedy the great and true cause of Irish ruin—the absenteeism of the great landed proprietors: so much the reverse, it is directly adapted to increase and confirm the real grievance, by scaring every landlord who retains a sense of personal danger, and I know none of them who are exempt from abundance of it, from returning to a country where “Captain Rock” is proclaimed by the “Bard of Ireland” to be an Immortal Sovereign. The work is, in fact, dangerous: it is an effusion of party, not a remonstrance of patriotism. It is a work better fitted for vulgar éclat than for rational approbation. Its effects were not calculated on; and it appears to me, in itself, to offer one of the strongest arguments against bestowing on the lower orders in Ireland the power of reading. Could reading Captain Rock be of service to the peasantry?

Perhaps I write warmly myself.[27] I write not however for distracted cottagers, but for proprietors and legislators; and I have endeavoured honestly to express my unalterable conviction that it is by encouraging, conciliating, reattaching, and recalling the higher, and not by confusing and inflaming the lower orders of society, that Ireland can be eventually tranquillised.

27.  In my Memoirs of Ireland.

Most undoubtedly Mr. Thomas Moore and Lady Morgan are among the most distinguished modern writers of our country: indeed, I know of none (except Miss Edgeworth) who has at present a right to be named with either.

But I can never repeat too often that I am not a literary critic, although I choose to speak my mind strongly and freely. I hope neither my friend Moore nor her ladyship will be displeased at my stating thus candidly my opinion of their public merits: they would perhaps scout me as an adulator were I to tell them what I thought of their private ones. I dare say some of the periodical writers will announce, that my telling the world I am a very inefficient critic is mere work of supererogation: at any rate, it must be owned that making the confession in advance is to the full as creditable as leaving the thing to be stated for me.

In my rambling estimate of the merits of these two justly celebrated authors, let me bear in mind that they are of different sexes, and recollect the peculiar attributes of either.

Both of them are alike unsparing in their use of the bold language of liberty: but Lady Morgan has improved her ideas of freedom by contrasts on the European continent; while Thomas Moore has not improved his by the exemplification of freedom in America. Lady Morgan has succeeded in adulterating her refinement; Thomas Moore has unsuccessfully endeavoured to refine his grossness: she has abundant talent; he has abundant genius; and whatsoever distinction those terms admit of, indicates, in my mind, their relative merit. This allowance, however, must be made; that the lady has contented herself with invoking only substantial beings and things of this sublunary world, while the gentleman has ransacked both heaven and hell, and “the half-way house,” for figurative assistance.

I knew them both before they had acquired any celebrity and after they had attained to much. I esteemed them then, and have reason equally to esteem them now: it is on their own account that I wish some portion of their compositions had never appeared; and I really believe, upon due consideration, they will themselves be of my way of thinking. But let it be remembered, that my esteem and friendship were never yet increased or diminished by the success or non-success of any body. Besides, while a man is necessitated to read much law, he cannot read much literature; and hence I scarcely saw the writings of either until the general buzz called my attention to them.

I recollect Moore being one night at my house in Merrion Square, during the spring of his celebrity, touching the piano-forte, in his own unique way, to “Rosa,” his favourite amatory sonnet: his head leant back;—now throwing up his ecstatic eyes to heaven, as if to invoke refinement—then casting them softly sideways, and breathing out his chromatics to elevate, as the ladies said, their souls above the world, but at the same moment convincing them that they were completely mortal.

A Mrs. K * * * y, a lady then d’âge mûr, but moving in the best society of Ireland, sat on a chair behind Moore: I watched her profile: her lips quavered in unison with the piano; a sort of amiable convulsion, now and then raising the upper from the under lip, composed a smile less pleasing than expressive; her eye softened, glazed,—and half melting she whispered to herself the following words, which I, standing at the back of her chair, could not avoid hearing: “Dear, dear!” lisped Mrs. K * * * y, “Moore, this is not for the good of my soul!”

Almost involuntarily, I ejaculated in the same low tone, “What is not, Mrs. K * * * y?”

“You know well enough!” she replied (but without blushing, as people used to do formerly); “how can you ask so silly a question?” and she turned into the crowd, but never came near the piano again that night.

I greatly admire the national, indeed patriotic idea, of collecting and publishing the Irish Melodies, so admirably acted on by Mr. T. Moore; and it were to be wished that some of them had the appearance of having been written more enthusiastically.[28]

Sir John Stevenson, that celebrated warbler, has melodised a good many of these; but he certainly has forgotten poor Carolan, and has also melo-dramatised a considerable portion. I think our rants and planxties would have answered just as well without either symphonies or chromatics, and that the plaintive national music of Ireland does not reach the heart a moment the sooner for passing through a crowd of scientific variations. Tawdry and modern upholstery would not be very appropriate to the ancient tower of an Irish chieftain; and some of Sir John’s proceedings in melodising simplicity, remind me of the Rev. Doctor Hare, who whitewashed the great rock of Cashell to give it a genteel appearance against the visitation.

As I do not attempt (I ought to say presume) to be a literary, so am I still less a musical critic: but I know what pleases myself, and in that species of criticism I cannot be expected to yield to any body.

As to my own authorship, I had business more important than writing books in my early life: but now, in my old days, it is my greatest amusement, and nothing would give me more satisfaction than hearing the free and fair remarks of the critics on my productions.

28.  I allude to the public trial as to copyright, by Mr. Power, when it was stated that Mr. Moore wrote the Melodies for so much a year. They are certainly very unequal.

I cannot omit one word more, in conclusion, as to Lady Morgan. It is to me delightful to see a woman, solely by the force of her own natural talent, succeed triumphantly in the line of letters she has adopted, and in despite of the most virulent, illiberal, and unjust attacks ever yet made on any author by mercenary reviewers.


Poets and poetasters—Major Roche’s extraordinary poem on the battle of Waterloo—“Tears of the British Muse”—French climax of love—A man’s age discovered by his poetry—Evils of a motto—Amorous feelings of youth—Love verses of a boy; of a young man—“Loves of the Angels”—Dinner verses of an Oxonian—“The Highlander,” a poem—Extracts from the poetical manuscripts of Miss Tylden, &c.

There cannot be a juster aphorism than “Poeta nascitur, non fit:” the paucity of those literary productions which deserve the epithet of poetry, compared with the thousand volumes of what rhyming authors call poems, forms a conclusive illustration.

A true poet lives for ever; a poetaster, just till a new one relieves him in the circulating libraries, or on toilets, being used in private families to keep young ladies awake at night and put them to sleep in the morning.

There may possibly be three degrees of excellence in true poetry, but certainly no more. A fourth-rate poet is, in my idea, a mere forger of rhymes; a blacksmith of versification: yet if he minds his prosody, and writes in a style either “vastly interesting,” “immensely pathetic,” or “delightfully luxurious,” he will probably find readers among the fair sex from fifteen to forty-five: the measure he adopts is of no sort of consequence, so that it be tender.

Major Roche, an Irishman, who in 1815 printed and published at Paris a full and true hexameter account of the great battle of Waterloo, with his own portrait emblazoned in the front, and the Duke of Wellington’s in the rear, must certainly be held to exceed in ingenuity all the poets and poetasters, great and small, of the present generation.

The alphabetical printed list of subscribers to Major Roche’s poem sets forth the name of every emperor, king, prince, nobleman, general, minister, and diplomatist—Russian, Prussian, Austrian, German, Swedish, Danish, Dutch, English, Irish, Scotch, Hanoverian, Don Cossack, &c. &c. Such an imperial, royal, and every way magnificent list was in fact never before, nor ever will be again, appended to any poem, civil, political, military, religious, or scientific: and as the major thought very truly that a book so patronised and garnished must be worth vastly more than any other poem of the same dimensions, he stated that “a few copies might still be procured at two guineas each.” He succeeded admirably, and I believe got more money at Paris than any one of the army did at Waterloo, and I am glad of it.

His introduction of the Duke of Wellington in battle was well worth the money:—he described his grace as Mars on horseback (new!), riding helter-skelter, and charging fiercely over every thing in his headlong course; friends and foes, men, women, and children, having no chance of remaining perpendicular if they crossed his way; his horse’s hoofs striking fire even out of the regimental buttons of the dead bodies which he galloped over! while swords, muskets, bayonets, helmets, spears, and cuirasses, pounded down by his trampling steed, formed as it were a turnpike-road, whereupon his grace seemed to fly, in his endeavours to catch Buonaparte.

I really think Major Roche’s idea of making Lord Wellington Mars was a much better one than that of making him Achilles, as the ladies have done at Hyde-Park-Corner. Paris found out the weak point of Achilles, and finished him: but Mars is immortal; and though Diomed knocked him down, neither his carcase nor character is a jot the worse. Besides, though Achilles killed Hector, it certainly was not Lord Wellington who killed Buonaparte.

A remark of mine which, though of no value, is however rather a curious one, I cannot omit—namely, that every man who has been in the habit of scribbling rhyme of any description, involuntarily betrays his age and decline by the nature of his composition. The truth of this observation I will endeavour to illustrate by quotations from some jingling couplets written at different periods of life by a friend of mine, merely to show the strange though gradual transitions and propensities of the human mind from youth to maturity, and from maturity to age. I was brought up at a school where poetry was cultivated, whether the soil would bear a crop or not: I early got, however, somehow or other, an idea of what it was, which boys in general at that age never think of. But I had no practical genius, and never set up for it. Our second master, the son of the principal one, was a parson, and, as he thought, a poet, and wrote a thing called “The Tears of the British Muse,” which we were all obliged to purchase, and repeat once a month. In fact, of all matters, prosody was most assiduously whipped into us.

Love is the first theme of all the poets in the world. Though the French do not understand that matter a bit better than other folks, yet their language certainly expresses amatory ideas far more comprehensively than ours. In talking of love they do not speak of refinement: I never knew a Frenchwoman tie them together fast: their terms of gradation are—L’AMOUR naturel, bien sensible, très fort, à son goût, superbe: finishing the climax with pas nécessaire encore. (There certainly is a touch of despondency in the last gradation.) This classing of the passion with the palate is a very simple mode of defining its varieties.

However, the state of the feelings and propensities of men is much regulated by the amount of their years (ladies in general stick to their text longest). In early youth, poetry flows from natural sensation; and at this period verses in general have much modesty, much feeling, and a visible struggle to keep in with refinement.

In the next degree of age, which runs quite close upon the former, the scene nevertheless sadly alters. We then see plain amatory sonnets turning poor refinement out of company, and showing that it was not so very pure as we had reason to suppose. Next comes that stage wherein sensualists, wits, ballad-singers, gourmands, experienced lovers, and most kinds of poetasters, male and female, give their varieties. All the organs of craniology swell up in the brain and begin to prepare themselves for development: this is rather a lasting stage, and gently glides into, and amalgamates with the final one, filled by satirists, psalmists, epigrammatists, and other specimens of antiquity and ill-nature. But I fancy this latter must be a very unproductive line of versification for the writer, as few ladies ever read such things till after they begin to wear spectacles. Few persons like to see themselves caricatured; and the moment a lady is convinced that she ceases to be an object of love, she fancies that, as matter of course, she at once becomes an object of ridicule: so that she takes care to run no chance of reading to her own mortification till she feels that it is time to commence devotee.

I recollect a friend of mine writing a poem of satire so general, that every body might attribute it to their neighbours, without taking it to themselves. The first edition having gone off rapidly, he published a second, announcing improvements, and giving as a motto the words of Hamlet:—

“To hold the mirror up to Nature.”

This motto was fatal; the idea of holding up the mirror condemned the book: nobody would venture to look into it; and the entire impression is, I dare say, in the act of dry-rotting at the present moment.

One short period is the true Paradise of mortals, that delicious dream of life, when age is too far distant to be seen, and childhood fast receding from our vision!—when Nature pauses briefly between refinement and sensuality—first imparting to our wondering senses what we are and what we shall be, before she consigns us to the dangerous guardianship of chance and of our passions!

That is the crisis when lasting traits of character begin to bud and blossom, and acquire sap; and every effort should then be made to crop and prune, and train the young shoots, while yet they retain the principle of ductility.

During that period the youth is far too chary to avow a passion which he does not fully comprehend, satisfied with making known his feelings by delicate allusions, and thus contriving to disclose the principle without mentioning its existence. All sorts of pretty sentimentalities are employed to this end:—shepherds and shepherdesses are pressed into the service; as are likewise tropes of Arcadian happiness and simplicity, with abundance of metaphorical roses with thorns to them—perfumes and flowers.

A particular friend of mine, who, when a young man, had a great propensity to fall in love and make verses accordingly, has often told me his whole progress in both, and says positively that he should ascertain in a moment a man’s decimal from his versification. He entertained me one morning by showing me certain memorandums which he had from time to time made upon this subject, and from which he permitted me to take extracts, as also from some of his own effusions which he said he had kept out of curiosity.

It appears that at the age of fifteen he fell in love with a Miss Lyddy St. John, who was herself a poetess of fourteen, and the most delicate young Celestial he had ever seen. The purity of her thoughts and verses filtered all his sentiments as clear as spring water, and did not leave an atom of grossness in the whole body of them.

Before he left school he wrote the following lines on this young lady, which he has suffered to stand as the poetical illustration of his boyhood:

What sylph that flits athwart the air,
Or hovers round its favourite fair,
Can paint such charms to fancy’s eye,
Or feebly trace
The unconscious grace
Of her for whom I sigh?
As silver flakes of falling snow
Tell the pure sphere from whence they flow,
So the chaste beauties of her eye
Faintly impart
The chaster heart
Of her for whom I sigh.

Lyddy, however, objected to the last line of each stanza, as she did not understand what he meant by sighing for her; and he not being able to solve the question, she seemed to entertain rather a contempt for his intellects, and palpably gave the preference to one of his schoolfellows—a bolder boy.

In the next stage toward maturity the poet and lover began to know better what he would be at; and determined to pay a visit to the fair one, and try if any lucky circumstance might give him a delicate opportunity of disclosing his sentiments and sufferings, and why he sighed for her.

He unfortunately found that the innocent cause of his torment had gone on a tour, and that his interview must be adjourned sine die: however, he explored the garden; sat down in all the arbours; walked pensively over the flower-plats; peeped into her chamber-window, which was on the ground-floor, and embroidered with honeysuckles and jasmine: his very soul swelled with thoughts of love and rural retirement: and thus his heart, as it were, burst open, and let out a gush of poetry, which he immediately committed to writing in the garb of a lamentation for the fair one’s absence, and forced under the window-frame of her bed-chamber; after which he disconsolately departed, though somewhat relieved by this effort of his Muse.—The words ran thus:

Ah, where has she wander’d? ah, where has she stray’d?
What clime now possesses our lost sylvan maid?—
No myrtle now blossoms; no tulip will blow;
And the lively arbutus now fades at Croneroe.
No glowing carnation now waves round her seat;
Nor crocus, nor cowslip weave turf for her feet;
And the woodbine’s soft tendrils, once train’d by her hand,
Now wild round her arbour distractedly stand.
Her golden-clothed fishes now deaden their hue:
The birds cease to warble—the wood-dove to coo:
The cypress spreads wide, and the willow droops low,
And the noon’s brightest ray can’t enliven Croneroe.
In the low-winding glen, all embosom’d in green,
Where the thrush courts her muse, and the blackbird is seen,
The rill as it flows, limpid, silent, and slow,
Trickles down the gray rock as the tears of Croneroe.
Then return, sylvan maid, and the flowers will all spring,
And the wood-dove will coo, and the linnet will sing—
The gold-fish will sparkle, the silver streams flow,
And the noon ray shine bright thro’ the glen of Croneroe.

Nothing very interesting occurred for above two months to our amorous lyrist, when he began to tire of waiting for the nymph of Croneroe, and grew fond of one of his own cousins without being able to give any very particular reason for it, further than that he was becoming more and more enlightened in the ways of the world. But this family flame soon burnt itself out; and he next fell into a sort of furious passion for a fine, strong, ruddy, country girl, the parson’s daughter: she was a capital housekeeper, and the parson himself a jolly hunting fellow: at his house there was a good table, and a hearty style of joking,—which advantages, together with a walk in the shrubbery, a sillabub under the cow, and a romp in the hay-making field, soon sent poor refinement about its business. The poet became absolutely mortal, and began to write common hexameters. However, before he was confirmed in his mortality, he happened one day to mention a sylph to his new sweetheart; she merely replied that she never saw one, and asked her mamma privately what it was, who desired her never to mention such a word again.

But by the time he set out for Oxford he had got tolerably well quit of all his ethereal visions, celestials, and snow-drops: and to convince his love what an admiration he had for sensible, substantial beauty, like hers, he wrote the following lines in a blank leaf of her prayer-book, which she had left in his way, as if suspecting his intention:—

Refinement’s a very nice thing in its way,
And so is Platonic regard;
Melting sympathy too—as the highfliers says—
Is the only true theme for a bard.
Then give them love’s phantoms and flights for their pains;
But grant me, ye gods! flesh and blood and blue veins,
And dear Dolly—dear Dolly Haynes.
I like that full fire and expression of eyes,
Where love’s true materiel presides;
With a glance now and then to the jellies and pies,
To ensure us good living besides.
Ye refiners, take angels and sylphs for your pains;
But grant me, ye gods! flesh and blood and blue veins,
And dear Dolly—dear Dolly Haynes.

I should not omit mentioning here an incident which at the time extremely amused me. A friend of mine, a barrister, whose extravagant ideas of refinement have frequently proved a source of great entertainment to me, was also a most enthusiastic admirer of Mr. Thomas Moore’s writings, prose and verse. I had read over to him the foregoing rather “of earthy” composition, to which he listened with a shrug of the shoulders and a contraction of the upper lip; and I was desirous of drawing out his opinion thereon by adverting to his own favourite bard.

“Here,” said I, “we have a fine illustration of the natural progress from refinement to sensuality—the amalgamation of which principles is so beautifully depicted by Mr. Thomas Moore in his ‘Loves of the Angels.’”

“Your observation is just,” replied my friend: “I cannot conceive why those elegant amours have been so much carped at—since their only object is to prove that flesh and blood is in very high estimation even with the spirituals.”

“What a triumph to mortality!” replied I.

“And why,” continued he, “should people be so very sceptical as to the authenticity of these angelic love-matches? surely there are no negative proofs; and are we not every day told by the gravest authorities that we are bound at our peril to believe divers matters not an atom more intelligible? For my part, I can’t comprehend why a poet should not be as credible a witness as a bishop on matters that are equally and totally invisible to both of them.”

“True,” observed I, smiling; “and the more so, as poets, generally residing nearer the sky than any other members of society, are likely to get better information.”

“Ay, poor fellows, ‘on compulsion!’” said my friend, with a compassionate sigh.—“But,” resumed he, falling in with my tone, “there is one point which I could have wished that our most melodious of lyrists had cleared up to my satisfaction—videlicet, what gender angels really are of?”

“Very little doubt, by logical reasoning, need exist upon that point,” answered I: “Mr. Moore represents his angels in the characters of gay deceivers, and those characters being performed by the male sex—ergo, angels must be males. You perceive the syllogism is complete?”

“Ay, ay,” said my friend; “but how comes it, then, that when we see a beautiful woman, we cry out involuntarily, ‘What an angel!’”

“The word homo signifies either man or woman,” replied I; “give a similar latitude to the word angel, and you have your choice of sexes! Divers of the classics, and some of the sculptors, perfectly authorise Mr. Moore’s delicious ambiguity.”

“That,” said my Moorish friend, “is certainly the fact, and most elegantly has our lyrist handled this question of celestial sexuality: he has paid the highest compliment ever yet conceived to human beauty, by asserting that ethereal spirits, instead of taking up with their own transparent species, prefer the opaque body-colouring of terrestrial dairy-maids—though fastidious casuists may, perhaps, call that a depraved taste.”

“No such thing,” replied I; “it is rather a proof of refined and filtered epicurism. The heathen mythology is crammed with precedents on that point. Every god and goddess in former times (and the sky was then quite crowded with them,)——”

“And may be so still,” interrupted my friend, “for any thing we know to the contrary.”

“They played their several pranks upon our globe,” continued I, “without the slightest compunction: even Jupiter himself frequently became a trespasser on the honour and peace of several very respectable fleshly families. The distinction between the spiritual and corporeal is likewise dexterously touched on by the dramatist Farquhar, who makes one of his characters[29] exclaim to another, ‘I’ll take her body, you her mind: which has the better bargain?’”

29.  Archer in “The Beaux Stratagem.”

“But,” rejoined my friend, “modern sentiment, which brings all these matters into collision, had not then been invented: now we can have both in one lot.”

Finally, we determined to consult Mr. Thomas Moore himself upon this most interesting consideration, agreeing that nobody could possibly understand such a refined subject so well as the person who wrote a book about it: we therefore proceeded (as I shall now do) to the next stage of years and of poetry.

The poet and lover was soon fixed at the university of Oxford, where he shortly made fast acquaintance with a couple of hot young Irishmen, who lost no time in easing him of the dregs of his sentimentality, and convinced him clearly that no rational man should ever be in love except when he is drunk, in which case it signifies little whom he falls in love with. Thus our youth soon forgot the parsonage, and grew enamoured of the bottle: but having some lees of poetry still remaining within him, the classics and the wine set them a fermenting; and he now wrote drinking-songs, hunting-songs, boating-songs, satires on the shopkeepers’ daughters, and lampoons on the fellows of Jesus and Brazen-nose; answered letters in verse; and, in a word, turned out what the lads called a genius.

The reverend private tutor of these young Irishmen wrote one day a letter to our poet in verse, inviting him to “meet at dinner a few fellow-countrymen, just arrived.” The tutor was a hard-going old parson, fond of wine and versification, who had been sent over from Ireland by the father of the two young men above alluded to, with direction to “take care that the lads did not fall into the d——d English morals, which would soon turn them into snow-balls, and disqualify them ever after from living in their own proper country and natural society.” These instructions the tutor faithfully acted up to; and the young poet very much amused the whole party by his humour and turn for rhyming; and was compelled to swear that he would pay them a visit, for a couple of years, near Belturbet in Ireland, where they would show him what living was. Their father was himself dotingly fond of poetry and the bag-pipes; and was induced to send them to Oxford only to please their mother’s brother, who was, most unfortunately, an Englishman.

My friend’s reply to the parson’s invitation was also in verse, and ran as follows: it was not amiss for a young tipster, and smacked, in some degree, both of Oxford and “Belturbet.”

Please your reverence,—
When parsons and poets their functions unite,
And court the old Muses to sing “an invite,”
The profane and the sacred connected we find,
And are sure of a banquet to every man’s mind.
Though on Pegasus mounted, to Bacchus we fly,
Yet we’ll quaff just like Christians;—our priest tells us why:
“’Tis moist hospitality banishes sin,
For the wine-open’d heart lets benevolence in.”
Then no long canting grace cools our spicy ragout,
While the impatient champagne bristles up his mousseu,
Which, darting toward heaven, cries “Come, goblets give!
’Tis my old Pagan cream teaches Christians to live!”
Then the pastor and flock quickly empty the bowl,
And its spirit divides ’twixt the head and the soul.
Though the Jove of our banquet no eagle can boast,
We’ll have plenty of “kites flying” all round our host:
Midst loud peals of laughter, undaunted we’ll sit,
And for flashes of lightning have flashes of wit:
Should his reverence perceive that our spirits are laid,
Then hot-pepper’d devils he’ll call to his aid,
And, all Christians surpassing, as Tantalus, see!
The more liquor we quaff, still the drier we’ll be!
But two modes of death sinful mortals should know,
Break their necks from Parnassus, or drown in Bordeaux;
And to which of those deaths I am doom’d from on high,
I’m sure of a parson, who’ll teach me to die.
Then who can refuse to accept of a dinner,
Where the host is from Erin—a priest—saint[30]—and sinner?

In fact, this same friend of mine, of whose poetry, or rather versification, I have thus given samples to the reader, is a very peculiar personage: bred to a profession which he never followed, with ample means and no occupation, he has arrived at a ripe age without much increasing his stock of wisdom, or at all diminishing that of his peculiarity. He told me, he found his standard relief against ennui was invoking the Muses, which by ransacking his ideas and puzzling his genius, operated as a stimulus to his brain, and prevented that stagnation of the fluids which our ablest nosologists say is so often the inducement to suicide. My friend argues that the inexhaustible variety of passions, propensities, sentiments, and so forth, inherent to the human frame, and which poets (like noblemen’s fools in days of yore) have a license for dressing in all colours as they think proper, affords to the language of poetry a vast superiority over that of prose: which latter being in its nature but a hum-drum concern, is generally expected to be reasonably correct, tolerably intelligible, and moderately decent;—astringent qualifications, which some of our modern poets appear to have very laudably disregarded.

30.  St. Ambrose.

My friend, however, observed, that he himself was not enabled to take other than a limited advantage of this license—inasmuch as he had been frequently jilted by the Muses, who never would do more than flirt with him; and hence, for want of a sufficient modicum of inspiration, he was generally necessitated to put up with the ordinary subjects of verse—such as epigrams, satires, odes on natal days, epitaphs on lap-dogs and little children, translations of Greek songs that he never saw, and of Italian poetry that had never existed, &c. It was true, he went on to inform me, he had occasionally flown at higher game in the regions of poesy; but, somehow or other, no bookseller would publish his effusions: one said they were too flat; another that they were too elevated; a third characterised them as too wild for the critics; and a fourth pronounced them too tame for the ladies. At length, however, the true state of the matter was candidly developed by a very intelligent presbyterian bookseller in the city, who told my friend that he was quite too late as to poetry, with which the publishers were crammed and the public farcied. Besides, he said, all the poetic stations in any way productive were already occupied:—for instance, a Poet Fitzgerald (whom Lord Byron calls “Hoarse Fitzgerald”) had, ever since the days of the “Rejected Addresses,” been considered as the writer, reciter, and proprietor of the fulsome line of poetry:—the amatory, celestial, and horticultural departments had long been considered the property of Mr. Thomas Moore; and every dactyl or spondee relating to roses, posies, dew-drops and thorns, grapes, lilies, kisses, blisses, blushes, angels, &c. would be considered as gross plagiarism, emanating from any other pen than that of our justly celebrated lyrist; while, as to historic or Caledonian poetry, Sir Walter Scott had not left an idea unappropriated for any fresh penman: he had raised an obscure people to eternal celebrity, by recording their murders in English versification; and by his “Battle of Waterloo” had proved that his own Muse, in the department of slaughter, was in a very languishing state, probably owing to the extraordinary fatigue she had previously undergone.

My friend was proceeding to detail further the admonitory conversation of this honest bibliopole, when I interrupted him by asking, naturally enough, how he could continue to derive any pleasure from a pursuit in which he admitted himself to have been so very unsuccessful? to which he adroitly replied, “On the very same principle that a bad shot may have just as much amusement as a capital sportsman; perhaps more,—one good hit being as gratifying to him as twenty to an undeviating fowler.” I coincided in my friend’s remark, adding, that the same sort of observation would apply to random jokers as well as rhymesters; and that I have more than once absolutely envied the inordinate happiness of a universal punster when he chanced to say any thing that had a symptom of wit in it.

My friend then, gravely opening his portfolio, selected two of his productions, which he gave me permission to publish, particularly as one of them had been most abruptly rejected by an eminent newspaper, and the other by a magazine of considerable reputation.

The intended Magazine article ran as follows:—but as one of the attachés was a northern gentleman of the Edinburgh Review, it was sent back to my friend with what he called a tantara rara.

A sans culotte from Caledonia’s wilds,
Rasp’d into form by Nature’s roughest files,
Hearing of savoury meats—of monies made—
Of unsmoked women—and of dexterous trade;—
Resolved, from sooty cot, to seek a town,
And to the low-lands boldly stump it down.
But then, alas! his garb would never do—
The greasy kilt, bare loins, and tatter’d shoe:
Yet urged to better food and better fame,
He borrow’d breeches and assumed a name;
Then truck’d his kilt, barter’d his motley hose,
New nail’d his heels, and capp’d the peeping toes.
His freckled fist a swineherd’s bludgeon wields,—
His tried companion through the sties and fields,
(Full many a grunting brawn had felt its sway)
Now to a cane promoted, helps its master’s way.
Full fifty bawbees Sandy had in store,
And piteous tales had raised him fifty more:
His knife, his pipe, and eke his bawbee bank,
In Basil pouch hung dangling from his flank:
No empty wallet on his shoulder floats:
Hard eggs, soft cheese, tobacco, salt, and oats,
Cramm’d in one end, wagg’d o’er his brawny chest,
And what was once a blanket poised the rest:
Thus wealthy, victuall’d, proud, content, and gay,
Down Grampian’s sterile steeps young Sandy wound his way.
Hail food! hail raiment! hail that happy lot
Which lured such genius from the smoky cot,
To mingle in the ranks of breeches’d men,
And coin a name and family again!
Where fam’d St. Andrew’s turrets tower on high;
Where frozen doctors lecture, doze, and die;
Where Knowledge sleeps, and Science seeks repose,
And mouldering halls more mouldering heads disclose,—
Where Roman Virgil pipes in Celtic verse,
And Grecian Homer sings to gods in Erse;—
’Twas there that Sandy form’d his worldly creed,
Brush’d gowns, swept book-shelves, learn’d to shave and read:
From craft to craft his willing genius rose;
When cash was scarce he wisely wrought for clothes,
And threadbare trophies, once the kirkmen’s pride,
Mickle by mickle swell’d his wallet’s side.
Well turn’d, well scoured, the rags denied their age,
While Sandy’s granite visage aped the sage.
Here, great Lavater! here thy science stands
Confess’d, and proved by more than mortal hands.
Though o’er his features Nature’s skill we see,
Her deepest secrets are disclosed through thee.
The green-tinged eye, curl’d lip, and lowering brows,
Which malice harrows, and which treachery ploughs,
In deep sunk furrows on his front we find,
Tilling the crops that thrive in Sandy’s mind.
No soft sensations can that face impart;
No gratitude springs glowing from the heart;
As deadly nightshade creeping on the ground,
He tries to poison what he cannot wound.
Yet Sandy has a most consistent mind,
Too low to rise, too coarse to be refin’d,
Too rough to polish, and too loose to bind:
Yet if * * * * *

On looking over the residue, I conceived that I could not with propriety continue the publication: were I to proceed five or six lines further, ill-natured people might possibly (though erroneously) affect to find a pretence for designation, and I should be very sorry to be considered as capable of becoming an instrument in so improper a procedure. My friend assured me he did not intend to particularise any individual: I, however, returned the copy to my portfolio, and subsequently to the author, mentioning my reasons, and advising him to burn the rest. His reply to me was laconic—“My dear B * * *, qui caput ille facit. If any man adopts it, ’tis not my fault.”

The other trifle is a mere jeu d’esprit, and cannot be disagreeable to any body, unless it may be taken amiss by some West-Indian proprietor, whose probable touchiness at the introduction of the word slavery I do not feel called on to compassionate.

Sir Sidney Smith and Miss Rumbold.
Says Sidney—“I’ll put all white slavery down;
All Europe I’ll summon to arms;”
But fair Rumbold replied—“I’ll reverse my renown,
For all men shall be slaves to my charms.”
If thus, lovely champion, that tongue and those eyes
Can set all mankind by the ears;
Go—fire off your glances, explode a few sighs,
And make captive the Dey of Algiers!
Thus you’ll rival papa both in glory and gains;
He may conquer the tyrant—you’ll lead him in chains.

I cannot conclude these memoranda without adding a few fragments from some unpublished and nearly unknown works, the production of Miss Tylden, the amiable young lady to whom I have before introduced the reader, (see pages 71, 72, 141, 142,) and who commenced versifying at the early age of fifteen. Her compositions are numerous, and comprise a variety of subjects and of styles; but, with a natural and becoming modesty, (though in her case, in my opinion, unnecessary,) she refuses to submit them to the ordeal of the public. I sincerely hope she may change her resolution.

Extracted from an unpublished Poem, calledBoadicea.”
By Miss M. Tylden.
Amid those aged sons of song
One seem’d to tower the rest among:
For though the heavy hand of Time
Had somewhat marr’d his youthful prime;
Though the sunny glow had faded
On the locks his brow that shaded;
Stern Time, not ev’n thy icy sway
Might quench the heaven-enkindled lay
Which waken’d to achievements high
Those heroes of antiquity.
Howe’er it were, from that bright band
Sadly apart he seem’d to stand,
And lowly on his harp he leant
With eye of gloom and eyebrow bent;
But still, despite his sterner mood,
By all with reverence he was view’d,
Such charm of dignity hath age
When on the brow experience sage
Hath stamp’d the worth of years that sleep,
And when the mind hath known to reap
Harvests of scientific lore,
And well secured the precious store;—
When all the stormy dreams of youth
Fade in the beacon-light of truth;
When fiery feelings are repress’d,
The spirit calm’d, the heart at rest!
Then in the form of age we find
Somewhat surpassing earthly kind.
Now forth his harp that minstrel drew,
And o’er the chords his fingers threw,
The while beneath their lighter sway
Murmur’d the scarcely-bidden lay,
In soft half-warbled cadence stealing
O’er the melting soul of feeling:—
But when he caught the transport high
Which mark’d the kindling melody,
His upturn’d eye and heaving breast
The mighty frenzy quick confess’d;
The sympathetic strings beneath
A wild inspiring chorus breathe,
And, borne the lofty halls along,
Floats high the patriot minstrel’s song:—
The mildew of time steeps the laurel-bound wreath,
And the war-sword ingloriously rusts in its sheath,
Which burst on the foe as the bolt from on high,
And sprinkled the blood of revenge to the sky.
The arm is unbraced and the nerves are unstrung
Of him who in combat that dark weapon swung;
For the souls of the heroes of loftier days,
Kindled high in their glory, have sunk in the blaze:
And the laurels of Britain, droop’d, wither’d and shrunk,
And her standard of freedom all hopelessly sunk,
And the sons of the isles, scatter’d thin on the hill,
Stood forsaken and drooping, but dauntlessly still.
Ye sons of the brave! is the bold spirit fled
Which to combat and conquest your forefathers led?
Oh no! it but sleeps in the souls it should warm,
The more fiercely to burn in the day of the storm.
But too long it hath slept: for the hearts of the brave
Are a country’s best bulwarks to guard and to save:
Oh then be the lion aroused in each breast,
Triumphant to conquer, or nobly to rest.
Be it yours to divulge the dark volume of fate;
Be it yours to revenge, ere revenge be too late:
Oh let not the spirit of freedom repose
Till it visit the wrongs of our land on its foes.
’Tis your country that calls; shall that cry be in vain?
All bleeding she lies in the conqueror’s chain:
Chiefs! one struggle more, and her freedom is won:
Let us triumph or die, as our fathers have done.
Like the lightning of heaven be your arms on the heath,
Loud, loud ring your shields with the thunder of death:
As the waves of your ocean rush down to the strife,
And each stroke be for Britain,—for freedom and life!
The bard has ceased: the lofty lay
In long vibrations dies away,
And melts upon the air around
Till silence blends away the sound.
The bard upon each warrior gazed,
To mark what thoughts his strain had raised.
The eye that late flash’d high with mirth
In alter’d cheer now sought the earth;
The cheek that bright with joy had blush’d,
Far other feeling now had flush’d.
It might have seem’d throughout the hall
(So motionless, so mute were all)
As though the spirit of the storm
Had swept along each stately form.
A moment—and what change was wrought
In every look and every thought!
Roused by the breath of life, they seem
To start at once from their death-like dream;
A sudden impulse, wild and strong,
Agitates the moving throng,
And like the billows of the deep,
When darkening tempests o’er it sweep,
In every freeborn heart, that strain
Concordant echoes roused again!


The author’s early visits to Crow-street Theatre—Interruptions of the University men—College pranks—Old Mr. Sheridan in “Cato” and in “Alexander the Great”—Curious scene introduced, by mistake, in the latter tragedy—Mr. Digges in the Ghost of Hamlet’s father—Chorus of cocks—The author’s preference of comedy to tragedy—Remarks on Mr. Kean and the London moralists—Liston in “Paul Pry”—Old Sparkes—The Spanish débutante—Irish Johnstone—Modern comedy—The French stage.

From my youth I was attached to theatrical representations, and have still a clear recollection of many of the eminent performers of my early days. My grandmother, with whom I resided for many years, had permanent silver tickets of admission to Crow-street Theatre, whither I was very frequently sent.

The playhouses in Dublin were then lighted by tallow candles, stuck into tin circles hanging from the middle of the stage, which were every now and then snuffed by some performer; and two soldiers, with fixed bayonets, always stood like statues on each side the stage, close to the boxes, to keep the audience in order. The galleries were very noisy and very droll. The ladies and gentlemen in the boxes always went dressed out nearly as for court; the strictest etiquette and decorum were preserved in that circle; whilst the pit, as being full of critics and wise men, was particularly respected, except when the young gentlemen of the University occasionally forced themselves in, to revenge some insult, real or imagined, to a member of their body; on which occasions, all the ladies, well-dressed men, and peaceable people generally, decamped forthwith, and the young gentlemen as generally proceeded to beat or turn out the residue of the audience, and to break every thing that came within their reach. These exploits were by no means uncommon; and the number and rank of the young culprits were so great, that (coupled with the impossibility of selecting the guilty,) the college would have been nearly depopulated, and many of the great families in Ireland enraged beyond measure, had the students been expelled or even rusticated.

I had the honour of being frequently present, and (as far as in mêlée,) giving a helping hand to our encounters both in the play-houses and streets. We were in the habit of going about the latter, on dark nights, in coaches, and, by flinging out halfpence, breaking the windows of all the houses we rapidly drove by, to the astonishment and terror of the proprietors. At other times, we used to convey gunpowder squibs into all the lamps in several streets at once, and by longer or shorter fuses contrive to have them all burst about the same time, breaking every lamp to shivers and leaving whole streets in utter darkness. Occasionally we threw large crackers into the china and glass-shops, and delighted to see the terrified shopkeepers trampling on their own porcelain and cut-glass, for fear of an explosion. By way of a treat, we used sometimes to pay the watchmen to lend us their cloaks and rattles: by virtue whereof, we broke into the low prohibited gambling-houses, knocked out the lights, drove the gamblers down stairs, and then gave all their stakes to the watchmen. The whole body of watchmen belonging to one parish (that of the round church, St. Andrew’s) were our sworn friends, and would take our part against any other watchmen in Dublin. We made a permanent subscription, and paid each of these regularly seven shillings a week for his patronage. I mention these trifles, out of a thousand odd pranks, as a part of my plan, to show, from a comparison of the past with the present state of society in the Irish metropolis, the extraordinary improvement which has taken place in point of decorum within the last half century. The young gentlemen of the University then were in a state of great insubordination;—not as to their learning, but their wild habits: indeed, the singular feats of some of them would be scarcely credible now; and they were so linked together, that an offence to one was an offence to all. There were several noblemen’s sons with their gold-laced, and elder sons of baronets with their silver-laced gowns, who used to accompany us, with their gowns turned inside out: yet our freaks arose merely from the fire and natural vivacity of uncontrolled youth: no calm, deliberate vices,—no low meannesses,—were ever committed: that class of young men now termed “dandies” we then called macaronies; and we made it a standing rule to thrash them whenever we got a fair opportunity: such also as had been long tied to their “mothers’ apron-strings” we made no small sport with when we got them clear inside the college: we called them milk-sops, and if they declined drinking as much wine as ordered, we always dosed them (as in duty bound) with tumblers of salt and water till they came to their feeding, as we called it. Thus generally commenced a young man of fashion’s novitiate above fifty years ago. However, our wildness, instead of increasing as we advanced in our college courses, certainly diminished, and often left behind it the elements of much talent and virtue. Indeed, there were to the full as good scholars, and certainly to the full as high-bred, and much more talented gentlemen educated in the Dublin University then, than in this wiser and more cold-blooded era. But it has utterly degenerated.

I remember, even before that period, seeing old Mr. Sheridan perform the part of Cato at one of the Dublin theatres; I do not recollect which: but I well recollect his dress, which consisted of bright armour under a fine laced scarlet cloak, and surmounted by a huge, white, bushy, well-powdered wig (like Dr. Johnson’s), over which was stuck his helmet. I wondered much how he could kill himself without stripping off the armour before he performed that operation! I also recollect him particularly (even as if before my eyes now) playing Alexander the Great, and throwing the javelin at Clytus, whom happening to miss, he hit the cup-bearer, then played by one of the hack performers, a Mr. Jemmy Fotterel. Jemmy very naturally supposed that he was hit designedly, and that it was some new light of the great Mr. Sheridan to slay the cup-bearer in preference to his friend Clytus, which certainly would have been a less unjustifiable murder, and that he ought to tumble down and make a painful end, according to dramatic custom time immemorial. Immediately, therefore, on being struck, Mr. James Fotterel (who was the ugliest cup-bearer ever employed by any monarch) reeled, staggered, and fell very naturally, considering it was his first death; but being determined on this unexpected opportunity to make an impression upon the audience, when he found himself stretched out on the boards at full length, he began to roll about, kick, and flap the stage with his hands most immoderately; falling next into strong convulsions, exhibiting every symptom of exquisite torture, and at length expiring with a groan so loud and so long that it paralysed even the people in the galleries, whilst the ladies believed that he was really killed, and cried aloud at the misfortune.

Though then very young, I was myself so terrified in the pit that I never shall forget it. However, Mr. Jemmy Fotterel being dragged off by the legs, soon re-entered in rude health, and was more applauded than any Clytus had ever been;—even the slayer himself could not help laughing most heartily at the incident.

The actresses both of tragedy and genteel comedy formerly wore large hoops, and whenever they made a speech walked across the stage and changed sides with the performer who was to speak next, thus veering backwards and forwards, like a shuttlecock, during the entire performance. This custom partially prevailed in the continental theatres till very lately.

I recollect Mr. Barry, who was accounted the handsomest man of his day, and his lady (formerly Mrs. Dancer); also Mr. Digges, who used to play the Ghost in “Hamlet.” One night in doubling that part with (I believe) Polonius, Digges forgot, on appearing as the Ghost, previously to rub off the bright red paint with which his face had been daubed for the other character. A sprite with a large red nose and vermilioned cheeks was extremely novel and much applauded. There was also a famous actor who used to play the Cock that crew to call off the Ghost when Hamlet had done with him: this performer did his part so well that every body used to say he was the best Cock that ever had been heard at Smock-alley; and six or eight other gentry of the dunghill species were generally brought behind the scenes, who, on hearing him, mistook him for a brother cock, and set up their pipes all together: and thus, by the infinity of crowing at the same moment, the hour was the better marked, and the Ghost glided back to the other world in the midst of a perfect chorus of cocks—to the no small admiration of the audience.

The distinguishing merits of the old actors I cannot recollect, and indeed of many of the more modern ones I profess myself but a very moderate judge. One thing, however, I am sure of;—that, man or boy, I never admired tragedy, however well personated. Lofty feelings and strong passions may be admirably mimicked therein; but the ranting, whining, obviously premeditated starting, disciplined gesticulation, &c.—the committing of suicide in mellifluous blank verse, and rhyming when in the agonies of death,—stretch away so very far from nature, as to destroy all that illusion whereon the effect of dramatic exhibition in my mind entirely depends. Unless occasionally to witness some very celebrated new actor, I have not attended a tragedy these forty years; nor have I ever yet seen any tragedian on the British stage who made so decided an impression on my feelings as Mr. Kean, in some of his characters, has done. When I have seen other celebrated men enact the same parts, I have remained quite tranquil, however my judgment may have been satisfied: but he has made me shudder, and that, in my estimation, is the grand triumph of the tragedian’s art. I have seldom sat out the last murder scene of any play except “Tom Thumb,” or “Chrononhotonthologos,” which certainly are no burlesques on some of our standard tragedies.

In serious comedy, Kean’s Shylock and Sir Giles Overreach, seemed to me neither more nor less than actual identification of those portraitures: so much so, in fact, that I told him myself, after seeing him perform the first-mentioned part, that I could have found in my heart to knock his brains out the moment he had finished his performance.[31]

31.  Nothing could be more truly disgusting than the circumstance of the most ruffianly parts of the London population, under the general appellation of a “British audience,” assuming to themselves the feelings of virtue, delicacy, decorum, morals, and modesty—for the sole purpose of driving into exile one of the first performers that ever trod the stage of England!—and that for an offence which (though abstractedly unjustifiable) a great number of the gentry, not a few of the nobility, and even members of the holy church militant, are constantly committing and daily detected in: which commission and detection by no means seem to have diminished their popularity, or caused their reception to be less cordial among saints, methodists, legal authorities, and justices of the quorum.

The virtuous sentence of transportation passed against Mr. Kean by the mob of London certainly began a new series of British morality; and the laudable societies for the “suppression of vice” may shortly be eased of a great proportion of their labours by more active moralists, (the frequenters of the upper gallery) culled from High-street St. Giles’s, the Israelites of Rag-fair, and the Houses of Correction. Hogarth has, in his print of “Evening,” immortalised the happy state of the horned citizens at his period.

Two errors, however, that great actor has in a remarkable degree: some of his pauses are so long, that he appears to have forgotten himself; and he pats his breast so often, that it really reminds one of a nurse patting her infant to keep it from squalling: it is a pity he is not aware of these imperfections!

If, however, I have been always inclined to undervalue tragedy, on the other hand, the great comic performers of my time in Ireland I perfectly recollect. I allude to the days of Ryder, O’Keeffe, Wilks, Wilder, Vandermere, &c. &c. &c.

The effect produced by even one singular actor, or one trivial incident, is sometimes surprising. The dramatic trifle or translation called “Paul Pry” had a greater run, I believe, than any piece of the kind ever exhibited in London, though it is a mere bagatelle—in itself nothing. I went to see it, and was greatly amused—not by the piece, but by the ultra oddity of one performer. Put any handsome, or even human-looking person, in Liston’s place, and take away his umbrella, and Paul Pry would scarcely bring another audience. His countenance certainly presents the drollest set of stationary features I ever saw, and has the uncommon merit of being exquisitely comic per se, without the slightest distortion: no artificial grimace, indeed, could improve his natural. I remember O’Keeffe, justly the delight of Dublin: and Ryder, the best Sir John Brute, Ranger, Marplot, &c. in the world: the prologue of “Bucks, have at ye all!” was repeated by him four hundred and twenty-four times. O’Keeffe’s Tony Lumpkin, Vandermere’s Skirmish, Wilder’s Colonel Oldboy, Wilks’s Jessamy, and the performances of several others in the comic line, came as near nature as acting and mimicry could possibly approach. There was also a first edition of Liston as to drollery, on the Dublin stage, usually called “Old Sparkes.” He was very tall, and of a very large size; with heavy-hanging jaws, gouty ancles, big paunch, and sluggish motion; but his comic face and natural drollery were irresistible. He was a most excellent actor in every thing he could personate: his grotesque figure, however, rendered these parts but few. Peachum, in the “Beggar’s Opera,” Caliban, (with his own additions) in “The Tempest,” and all bulky, droll, low characters, he did to the greatest perfection. At one time, when the audiences of Smock-Alley were beginning to flag, Old Sparkes told Ryder, if he would bring out the afterpiece of “The Padlock,” and permit him to manage it, he would ensure him a succession of good nights. Ryder gave him his way, and the bills announced a first appearance in the part of Leonora: the débutante was reported to be a Spanish lady. The public curiosity was excited, and youth, beauty, and tremulous modesty were all anticipated; the house overflowed; impatience was unbounded; the play ended in confusion, and the overture of “The Padlock” was received with rapture. Leonora at length appeared; the clapping was like thunder, to give courage to the débutante, who had a handsome face, and was very beautifully dressed as a Spanish donna, which it was supposed she really was. Her gigantic size, it is true, rather astonished the audience. However, they willingly took for granted that the Spaniards were an immense people, and it was observed that England must have had a great escape of the Spanish Armada, if the men were proportionably gigantic to the ladies. Her voice too was rather of the hoarsest, but that was accounted for by the sudden change of climate: at last, Leonora began her song of “Sweet Robin”—

Say, little foolish fluttering thing,
Whither, ah! whither would you wing?

and at the same moment Leonora’s mask falling off, Old Sparkes stood confessed, with an immense gander which he brought from under his cloak, and which he had trained to stand on his hand and screech to his voice, and in chorus with himself. The whim took: the roar of laughter was quite inconceivable: he had also got Mungo played by a real black: and the whole was so extravagantly ludicrous, and so entirely to the taste of the Irish galleries at that time, that his “Sweet Robin” was encored, and the frequent repetition of the piece replenished poor Ryder’s treasury for the residue of the season.

I think about that time Mr. John Johnstone was a dragoon. His mother was a very good sort of woman, whom I remember extremely well. Between fifty and sixty years ago she gave me a little book, entitled “The History of the Seven Champions of Christendom,” which I have (with several other books of my childhood) to this day. She used to call at my grandmother’s, to sell run muslins, &c. which she carried about her hips in great wallets, passing them off for a hoop. She was called by the old women, in pleasantry, “Mull and Jacconot;” sold great bargains, and was a universal favourite with the ladies. Young Johnstone was a remarkably genteel well-looking lad; he used to bring presents of trout to my grandmother, which he caught in the great canal then going on close to Dublin. He soon went into the army: but having a weakness in his legs, he procured a speedy discharge, and acquired eminence on the Irish stage.

I never happened to meet Mr. John Johnstone for many years in private society till we met at dinner at Lord Barrymore’s, in 1812, where Col. Bloomfield, my old and good-hearted friend Mr. Richard Martin, and others, were assembled. I was glad to meet the distinguished comedian, and mentioned some circumstances to him which proved the extent of my memory. He sang that night as sweetly as ever I heard him on the stage, and that is saying much.

Mr. Johnstone was a truly excellent performer of the more refined species of Irish characters; but Nature had not given him enough of that original shoulder-twist, and what they call the “pot-sheen-twang,” which so strongly characterise the genuine national vis comica of the lower orders of Irish. In this respect, Owenson was superior to him, of whom the reader will find a more detailed account in a future page.

No modern comedy, in my mind, equals those of the old writers. The former are altogether devoid of that high-bred, witty playfulness of dialogue so conspicuous in the works of the latter. Gaudy spectacle, common-place clap-traps, forced dialogue, and bad puns, together with ill-placed mongrel sentiment, ad captandum vulgus, have been substituted to “make the unskilful laugh,” and to the manifest sorrow of the “judicious.” Perhaps so much the better:—as, although there are now most excellent scene-painters and fire-workers, the London stage appears to be almost destitute of competent performers in the parts of the old genuine comedy, and the present London audiences seem to prefer gunpowder, resin, brimstone, musketry, burning castles, dancing ponies, and German hobgoblins, to any human or Christian entertainments, evidently despising all those high-finished comic characters, which satisfy the understanding and owe nothing to the scenery.

In Paris the scenery and orchestra at the first theatre for acting in the world (the Theatre François) are below mediocrity. But there is another species of theatrical representation extant in France—namely, scriptural pieces; half burlesque, half melodrame. These are undoubtedly among the drollest things imaginable; mixing up in one unconnected mass, tragedy, comedy, and farce, painting, music, scenery, dress and undress, decency and indecency![32]

32.  “Samson pulling down the hall of the Philistines” is the very finest piece of spectacle that can be conceived!—“Susannah and the Elders” is rather too naked a concern for the English ladies to look at, unless through their fans: transparent ones have lately been invented, to save the expense of blushes, &c. But the most whimsical of their scriptural dramas is the exhibition of Noah as a ship-builder, preparatory to the deluge: it is a most splendid spectacle. He is assisted by large gangs of angels working as his journeymen, whose great solicitude is to keep their wings clear out of the way of their hatchets, &c. At length the whole of them strike and turn out for wages, till the arrival of a body of gens d’armes immediately brings them to order, by whom they are threatened to be sent back to heaven if they do not behave themselves!

I have seen many admirable comedians on the continent. Nothing can possibly exceed Mademoiselle Mars (for instance) in many characters: but the French are all actors and actresses from their cradles; and a great number of performers, even at the minor theatres, seem to me to forget that they are playing, and at times nearly make the audience forget it too! Their spectacle is admirably good; their dancing excellent, and most of their dresses beautiful. Their orchestras are well filled, in every sense of the word, and the level of musical composition not so low as some of Mr. Bishop’s effusions. The French singing however is execrable; their tragedy rant; but their prose comedy nature itself!

In short, the French beyond doubt exceed all other people in the world with regard to theatrical matters: and as every man, woman, and child in Paris is equally attached to spectacle, every house is full, every company encouraged,—all tastes find some gratification. An Englishman can scarcely quit a Parisian theatre without having seen himself or some of his acquaintances characteristically and capitally represented: the Anglais supply certainly an inexhaustible source of French mimicry; and as we cannot help it, do what we will, our countrymen now begin to practise the good sense of laughing at themselves! John Bull thinks that roast beef is the finest dish in the whole world, and that the finest fellow in Europe is the man that eats it: on both points the Frenchman begs leave, tout à fait, to differ with John; and nothing can be sillier than to oppose opinions with a positive people, in their own country, and who never yet, right or wrong, gave up an argument.

No part of this world, I believe, combines corporeal and intellectual luxuries to an equal extent with Paris; and I am sure no place can afford them on such easy terms. There is a variety for the eye, the mind, and the palate quite inexhaustible, and within the reach of all purses.—However, no persons but those some time resident in the metropolis of France can even imagine its conveniences or its pleasures, and their cheapness: nor can there be any city where strangers are more kindly used, or more sedulously protected. In point of courtesy, sociability, animated good-nature, address and dress, I regret to say we cannot approach their well-bred females.


Public mis-statements respecting that lady—The author’s long acquaintance with her—Début of Mrs. Jordan, at the Dublin Theatre, as Miss Francis—Her incipient talents at that period—Favourite actresses then in possession of the stage—Theatrical jealousy—Mrs. Daly (formerly Miss Barsanti)—Curious inversion of characters in the opera of “The Governess,” resorted to by the manager to raise the wind—Lieut. Doyne proposes for Miss Francis—His suit rejected from prudential considerations—Miss Francis departs for England—Mr. Owenson, Lady Morgan’s father—Comparison between that performer and Mr. John (commonly called Irish) Johnstone—Introduction of the author to his Royal Highness the Duke of Clarence—Reflections on the scurrilous personalities of the English press—Mrs. Jordan in the green-room, and on the stage—Her remarks on the theatrical art, and on her own style of acting—Her last visit to Dublin, and curious circumstances connected therewith—Mr. Dwyer the actor and Mr. Serjeant Gold—Mrs. Jordan in private society—Extracts from her letters—Her retirement from Bushy and subsequent embarkation for France.

The foregoing short and superficial sketches of the Dublin stage in my juvenile days bring me to a subject more recent and much more interesting to my feelings. I touch it nevertheless with pain, and must ever deeply regret the untimely catastrophe of a lady who was at once the highest surviving prop of her profession and a genuine sample of intrinsic excellence: had her fate descended, whilst filling her proper station, and in her own country; or had not the circumstances which attended some parts of that lady’s career been entirely mistaken;—had not the cause of her miseries been grossly misrepresented, and the story of her desertion and embarrassed state at the time of her dissolution altogether false;—I probably should never have done more (under the impression of its being intrusive, perhaps indelicate) than mention her professional excellences.

But so much of that lady, and so much relating to her death, has been recently mis-stated in the public prints, (not for the purpose of doing her justice, but of doing another injustice,) that I feel myself warranted in sketching some traits and incidents of Mrs. Jordan’s character and life—which I know to be true, and a proportion whereof I was personally acquainted with.—Some degree of mystery has doubtless rested, and will probably continue to rest, on the cause which led that lady to repair to a foreign country, where she perished; all I shall say, however, on that score is, that this cause has been known to a very limited number of individuals, and never had, in any shape or degree, bearing or connexion with her former situation. The reports current on this head I know to be utterly unfounded, and many of them I believe to be altogether malicious.

I am not Mrs. Jordan’s biographer; my observations only apply to abstract portions of her conduct and abstract periods of her life. I had the gratification of knowing, for some time intimately, that amiable woman and justly celebrated performer. Her public talents are recorded; her private merits are known comparatively to few. I enjoyed a portion of her confidence on some very particular subjects, and had full opportunity of appreciating her character.

It was not by a mere cursory acquaintance Mrs. Jordan could be known:—confidence alone could develope her qualities, and I believe few of them escaped my observation. I have seen her in the busy bustling exercise of her profession:—I have seen her in the tranquil lap of ease, of luxury, and of magnificence;—in a theatre, surrounded by a crowd of adulating dramatists—and when surrounded by a numerous, interesting, and beloved offspring. I have seen her happy:—I have seen her miserable: and I could not help participating in all her feelings.

At the point of time when I first saw Mrs. Jordan, she could not be much more I think than sixteen or seventeen years of age; and had made her début as Miss Francis, at the Dublin Theatre. It is worthy of observation, that her early appearances in Dublin were not in any of those characters (save one) wherein she afterward so eminently excelled; though such as, being more girlish, were better suited to her spirits and age. I was at that time, of course, somewhat less competent than now to form a judgment; yet could not then but observe, that in these parts she was perfect even on her first appearance: she had no art to study;—Nature was her sole instructress. Youthful, joyous, animated, and droll, her laugh arose from her heart, her tear started ingenuously from her feeling. Her countenance was all expression, without being all beauty:—her form, then light and elastic—her flexible limbs—the juvenile graces of her every movement impressed themselves, as I perceived, deeply upon those who attended even her earliest performances.

Her expressive features and eloquent action at all periods harmonised blandly with each other—not by skill, but by intellectual sympathy: when her figure was adapted to the part she assumed, she had only to speak the words of an author to become the very person he delineated. Her voice was clear and distinct, modulating itself with natural and winning ease; and when exerted in song, its gentle flute-like melody formed the most captivating contrast to the convulsed and thundering bravura. She was throughout the untutored child of Nature: she sang without effort, and generally without the accompaniment of instruments; and whoever heard her Dead of the Night, and her Sweet Bird, either in public or private, if they had any soul, must have surrendered at discretion.

In playful genteel comic characters, such as Belinda, &c., she was excellent: but in the formal, dignified, high-bred parts of comedy, her superiority was not so decided:—her line, indeed, was distinctly marked out; within its extent she stood altogether unrivalled—nay, unapproached.

At the commencement of Mrs. Jordan’s theatrical career she had difficulties to encounter which nothing but superiority of talent could so suddenly have surmounted. Both of the Dublin theatres were filled with performers of high popular reputation, and thus every important part in her line of acting was ably preoccupied. The talent of the female performers, matured by experience and disciplined by practice, must yet have yielded to the fascinating powers of her natural genius, had it been suffered fairly to expand. But the jealousy which never fails to pervade all professions was powerfully excited to restrain the development of her mimic powers; and it was reserved for English audiences to give full play and credit to that extraordinary comic genius, which soon raised her to the highest pitch, at once of popular and critical estimation.

Mrs. Daly (formerly Miss Barsanti) and Mrs. Leyster were foremost among the successful occupants of those buoyant characters to which Miss Francis was peculiarly adapted:—others had long filled the remaining parts to which she aspired, and thus scarcely one was left open to engage her talents.

Mr. Daly, about this time, resorted to a singular species of theatrical entertainment, by the novelty whereof he proposed to rival his competitors of Smock-Alley; namely, that of reversing characters, the men performing the female, and the females the male parts in comedy and opera. The opera of “The Governess” was played in this way for several nights, the part of Lopez by Miss Francis. In this singular and unimportant character the versatility of her talent rendered the piece attractive, and the season concluded with a strong anticipation of her future celebrity.

The company then proceeded to perform in the provinces, and at Waterford occurred the first grave incident in the life of Mrs. Jordan. Lieutenant Charles Doyne, of the third regiment of heavy horse (Green’s), was then quartered in that city; and, struck with the naïveté and almost irresistible attractions of the young performer, his heart yielded, and he became seriously and honourably attached to her. Lieutenant Doyne was not handsome, rather the reverse, but he was a gentleman and a worthy man. He had been my friend and companion some years at the university; I therefore knew him intimately, and he entrusted me with his passion. (Miss Francis’s mother was then alive, and sedulously attended her.) Wild and thoughtless myself, I told him, if he could win the young lady, to marry her; adding, that no doubt Fortune must smile, whether she chose or not, on so disinterested a union; he being no beauty himself, and having no chance of getting a moneyed wife by his attractions, as young ladies seldom fall in love with the unsophisticated goodness of a lover: an ordinary picture without either frame or gilding is seldom seen in a fashionable drawing-room.

Her mother, however, was of a different opinion; and as she had no fortune but her talent, the exercise of which was to be relinquished with the name of Francis, it became matter of serious consideration whence they were to draw their support—with the probability too of a family! Here was a real enigma. His commission was altogether inadequate, and his private fortune small.—This, in short, was insurmountable. Mrs. Francis, also anticipating the future celebrity of her child, and unwilling to extinguish in obscurity all chance of fame and fortune by means of the profession she had adopted, worked upon her daughter to decline the proposal. The treaty accordingly ended, and Lieut. Doyne appeared to me for a time almost inconsolable. Miss Francis I did not see afterward; she accompanied her mother, soon after, to England, and soon commenced her ascent toward the pinnacle of fame. Lieut. Doyne lately died collector of the Queen’s County. His esteem for Mrs. Jordan was never obliterated.

Mr. Owenson, the father of Lady Morgan, was at that time highly celebrated in the line of Irish characters, and never did an actor exist so perfectly calculated, in my opinion, to personify that singular class of people. Considerably above six feet in height;—remarkably handsome and brave-looking,—vigorous and well-shaped,—he was not vulgar enough to disgust, nor was he genteel enough to be out of character: never did I see any actor so entirely identify himself with the peculiarities of those Irish parts he assumed. In the higher class of Irish characters (old officers, &c.) he looked well, but did not exhibit sufficient formal dignity; and in the lowest, his humour was scarcely quaint and original enough; but in what might be termed the “middle class of Paddies,” no man ever combined the look and the manner with such felicity as Owenson. Scientific singing was not an Irish quality; and he sang well enough.—I have heard Mr. Jack Johnstone warble so sweetly and so very skilfully, and act some parts so very like a man of education, that I almost forgot the nation he was mimicking: that was not the case with Owenson; he acted as if he had not received too much schooling, and sang like a man whom nobody had instructed. He was, like most of his profession, careless of his concerns, and grew old without growing rich. His last friend was old Fontaine, a very celebrated French dancing-master, many years domiciliated and highly esteemed in Dublin. He aided Owenson and his family whilst he had means to do so, and they both died nearly at the same time—instances of talent and improvidence.

This digression I have ventured on, because in the first place it harmonises with the theatrical nature of my subject, and may be interesting—because it relates to the father of an eminent and amiable woman; and most particularly, because I was informed that Mr. Owenson took a warm interest in the welfare of Miss Francis, and was the principal adviser of her mother in rejecting Mr. Doyne’s addresses.

After a lapse of many years I chanced to acquire the honour of a favourable introduction to His Royal Highness the Duke of C——, who became the efficient friend of me and of my family—not with that high and frigid mien which so often renders ungracious even the favours of upstart authorities in the British government, but with the condescending frankness and sincerity of a royal prince. He received at an early age, and educated, my only son with his own, and sent him, as lieutenant of the fifth dragoon guards, to make his campaigns in the Peninsula. This introduction to His Royal Highness gave me unerring opportunities of knowing, appreciating, and valuing, Mrs. Jordan. In her there was no guile; her heart was conspicuous in every word—her feelings in every action; and never did I find, in any character, a more complete concentration of every quality that should distinguish a mother, a friend, and a gentlewoman.

The outlines of Mrs. Jordan’s public life during her connexion of twenty-three years with a royal personage are too well known to require recital here. But with respect to her memoirs after that period, so much falsehood and exaggeration have gone abroad—so many circumstances have been distorted, and so many invented—some of the latter possessing sufficient plausibility to deceive even the most wary—that, if not a duty, it appears at least not wrong to aid in the refutation of malicious calumnies.

I have ever felt a great abhorrence of the system of defamation on hearsay. Public men, as such, may properly be commented on. It is the birthright of the British people to speak fairly their sentiments of those who rule them; but libel on private reputation is a disgusting excrescence upon the body of political freedom, and has latterly grown to an extent so dangerous to individuals, to families, and to society in general, and so disgraceful to the press at large, that it may hereafter afford plausible pretences for curtailing the liberty of that organ—the pure and legal exercise of which is the proudest and surest guardian of British freedom. The present lax, unrestrained, and vicious exuberance of the periodical press, stamps the United Kingdom as the very focus of libel and defamation in all their ramifications. No reputation—no rank—no character, public or private, neither the living nor the dead,—can escape from its licentiousness. One comfort may be drawn from the reflection—that it can proceed no further; its next movement must be a retrograde one, and I trust the legislature will not permit this retrogression to be long deferred.

That spirit of licentiousness I have been endeavouring to stigmatise was never more clearly instanced than by the indefatigable and reiterated attempts (for several years persevered in) to disparage a royal personage, whose domestic habits, and whose wise and commendable abstinence from political party and conflicting factions, should have exempted him from the pen and from the tongue of misrepresentation, and rendered sacred a character which only requires development to stand as high in the estimation of every man who regards the general happiness and power of the empire, as that of any other member of the same illustrious house. On this point I speak not lightly: that which I state is neither the effusion of gratitude nor the meanness of adulation: the royal personage I allude to would not commend me for the one, and would despise me for the other.

I cannot conclude this digression without reprobating in no measured terms that most dangerous of all calumnious tendencies which endeavours systematically to drag down the highest ranks to the level of the lowest, and by labouring to excite a democratic contempt of royal personages, attempts gradually to sap the very foundation of constitutional allegiance: such, however, has been a practice of the day, exercised with all the rancour, but without any portion of the ability, of Junius.[33]

33.  I rather think that a very good man, and one of the first advocates of Ireland, carried this observation of mine and its bearings rather beyond the point I here intended, in his speech (as reported) in the Court of Chancery, on the arrival of the present chancellor. The reply of Sir Anthony Hart appeared to me to be the wisest, the most dignified, effective, and honest, that could possibly be pronounced by a lord chancellor so circumstanced, and coming after his noble predecessor.

It is deeply to be lamented that this system has been exemplified by some individuals whose literary celebrity might have well afforded them the means of creditable subsistence, without endeavouring to force into circulation works of mercenary penmanship containing wanton slander of the very highest personage in the United Empire. I specify no name: I designate no facts;—if they exist not, it is unimportant; if they are notorious, the application will not be difficult. It is true that a libeller cannot fully atone—yet he may repent; and even that mortification would be a better penance to any calumniator of distinguished talent than to run the risk of being swamped between the Scylla and Charybdis of untruth and disaffection.

But to return to the accomplished subject of my sketch:—I have seen her, as she called it, on a cruise, that is, at a provincial theatre (Liverpool); having gone over once from Dublin for that purpose: she was not then in high spirits: indeed her tone, in this respect, was not uniform; in the mornings she usually seemed depressed; at noon she went to rehearsal—came home fatigued, dined at three, and then reclined in her chamber till it was time to dress for the performance. She generally went to the theatre low-spirited.

I once accompanied Mrs. Jordan to the green-room at Liverpool: Mrs. Alsop, and her old maid, assiduously attended her. She went thither languid and apparently reluctant; but in a quarter of an hour her very nature seemed to undergo a metamorphosis: the sudden change of her manner appeared to me, in fact, nearly miraculous; she walked spiritedly across the stage two or three times, as if to measure its extent; and the moment her foot touched the scenic boards her spirit seemed to be regenerated; she cheered up, hummed an air, stepped light and quick, and every symptom of depression vanished! The comic eye and cordial laugh returned to their mistress, and announced that she felt herself moving in her darling element. Her attachment to the practice of her profession, in fact, exceeded any thing I could conceive.

Mrs. Jordan delighted in talking over past events. She had strong impressions of every thing; and I could perceive was sometimes influenced rather by her feelings than her judgment.

“How happens it, Mrs. Jordan,” said I to her, when last in Dublin, “that you still exceed all your profession even in characters not so adapted to you now as when I first saw you? How do you contrive to be so buoyant—nay, so childish, on the stage, while you lose half your spirits, and degenerate into gravity, the moment you are off it?” “Habit!” replied Mrs. Jordan, “old habit! had I formerly studied my positions, weighed my words, and measured my sentences, I should have been artificial, and they might have hissed me: so, when I had got the words well by heart, I told Nature I was then at her service to do whatever she thought proper with my feet, legs, hands, arms, and features: to her I left the whole matter: I became, in fact, merely her puppet, and never interfered further myself in the business. I heard the audience laugh at me, and I laughed at myself: they laughed again, so did I: and they gave me credit for matters I knew very little about, and for which Dame Nature, not I, should have received their approbation.

“The best rule for a performer,” said Mrs. Jordan, “is to forget, if possible, that any audience is listening. We perform best of all in our closets, and next best to crowded houses. How singular the contrast! but I scarcely ever saw a good performer who was always eyeing the audience. If,” continued she, “half the gesticulation, half the wit, drollery, and anecdote which I heard among you all at Curran’s Priory, at Grattan’s cottage, and at your house, had been displayed before an audience, without your knowing that any body was listening to you, the performance would have been cheered as one of the finest pieces of comic acting possible, though, in fact, your only plot was endeavouring to get tipsy as agreeably as possible!”

This last visit of Mrs. Jordan to the Irish capital took place in the year 1809, and afforded me a full opportunity of eliciting the traits of her nature and disposition. She was greeted in that metropolis with all the acclamations that her reputation and talent so fully merited: she was well received among the best society in Dublin, whose anxiety was excited beyond measure to converse with her in private. Here, however, she disappointed all; for there was about her no display; and the animated, lively, brilliant mimic, on the boards, was in the saloon retiring, quiet, nay, almost reserved. Mrs. Jordan seldom spoke much in company, particularly in very large assemblies: but then she spoke well: she made no exertion to appear distinguished, and became more so by the absence of effort. The performer was wholly merged in the gentlewoman; and thus, although on her entrance this celebrated person failed to impress the company, she never failed to retire in possession of their respect.

On that tour she said she was very ill-treated by the managers. The understanding was, she told me, that she was to receive half the profits: yet, although the houses were invariably crowded, the receipts were inadequate to her expectations. Many of the performers who had been appointed to act with her were below mediocrity. One was forgetful—another drunk. I confess I never myself saw such a crew. All this rendered Mrs. Jordan miserable, and she sought relief in the exercise of her benevolent feelings. Among other objects of her bounty was an old actor called Barrett, who had played on the night of her début, and was then in most indigent circumstances. Him she made comfortable, and gave efficient assistance to several others whom she had known in former years.

The managers (I know not why) acted toward her not with so much respect as every body, except themselves, had shown that most amiable woman. She had found it absolutely necessary to refuse performing with one or two vulgar fellows belonging to the set whom they had selected to sustain her; and she quitted the country at length, having formed a fixed determination never to repeat any engagement with the same persons.

She had scarcely arrived in England when some of the parties, including a Mr. Dwyer, a player, quarrelled; and actions for defamation were brought forward among them. A writer of the name of Corri also published periodical libels, in one of which he paid Mrs. Jordan the compliment of associating her with the Duchess of Gordon. I and my family had likewise the honour of partaking in the abuse of that libel, and I prosecuted the printer. On the trial of the cause, one of the counsel, Mr. Thomas (now Serjeant) Gold, thought proper (as reported in the newspapers) to indulge himself in language and statements respecting Mrs. Jordan neither becoming nor true. In cross-examining me as a witness, on the prosecution of the printer, he essayed a line of interrogation highly improper as to that lady; but he took care not to go too far with me when I was present: a monosyllable or two I found quite sufficient to check the exuberance of “my learned friend;” and on this occasion he was not backward in taking a hint. The libeller was found guilty, and justly sentenced to a protracted imprisonment.

I never knew Mrs. Jordan feel so much as at the speech of Mr. Gold on that occasion: as it appeared in several newspapers, it was too bad even for a vulgar declaimer; and when Mrs. Jordan’s situation, her family, and her merits were considered, it was inexcusable. I do not state this feeling of Mrs. Jordan solely from my own impression: I received from her a letter indicative of the anguish which that speech had excited within her; and I should do injustice to her memory if (as she enjoined me to do) I did not publish in her justification an extract of that letter.

“Bushy House, Wednesday.

“My dear Sir,

“Not having the least suspicion of the business in Dublin, it shocked and grieved me very much; not only on my own account, but I regret that I should have been the involuntary cause of any thing painful to you, or to your amiable family. But of Mr. Jones I can think any thing: and I beg you will do me the justice to believe that my feelings are not selfish. Why indeed should I expect to escape their infamous calumnies? Truth, however, will force its way.* * * * * I wanted nothing from Mr. C * * *’s generosity, but I had a claim on his justice:—* * * * *

“During the two representations of ‘The Inconstant’ I represented to him the state Mr. Dwyer was in, and implored him, out of respect to the audience, if not in pity to my terrors, to change the play. As to the libel on Mr. Dwyer, charged to me by Mr. Gold, I never directly or indirectly, by words or by writing, demeaned myself by interfering in the most remote degree with so wretched a concern. I knew no editor—I read no newspapers while in Dublin. The charge is false and libellous on me, published, I presume, through Mr. Gold’s assistance. Under that view of the case, he will feel himself rather unpleasantly circumstanced should I call upon him either to prove or disavow his assertions. To be introduced any way into such a business shocks and grieves me: he might have pleaded for his companions without calumniating me: but, for the present, I shall drop an irksome subject, which has already given me more than ordinary uneasiness. * * * * * *

“Yours, &c.
Dora Jordan.[34]

I have seen this accomplished woman in the midst of one of the finest families in England, surrounded by splendour, beloved, respected, and treated with all the deference paid to a member of high life. I could perceive, indeed, no offset to her comforts and gratification. She was, in my hearing, frequently solicited to retire from her profession: she was urged to forego all further emoluments from its pursuit; and this single fact gives the contradiction direct to reports which I should feel it improper even to allude to further. Her constant reply was, that she would retire when Mrs. Siddons did; but that her losses by the fire at Covent Garden, together with other incidental outgoings, had been so extensive, as to induce her continuance of the profession to replace her finances. Her promise to retire with Mrs. Siddons, however, she did not act up to, but continued to gratify the public, with enormous profit to herself, down to the very last year she remained in England. It is matter of fact, too, (though perhaps here out of place,) that, so far from a desertion of this lady, as falsely reported, to the last hour of her life the solicitude of her royal friend was, I believe, undiminished; and though separated, for causes in no way discreditable to either, he never lost sight of her interest or her comforts. It was not the nature of His Royal Highness:—he was incapable of unkindness toward Mrs. Jordan: those reports had, indeed, no foundation, save in the vicious representation of hungry or avaricious editors, or in the scurrility of those hackneyed and indiscriminate enemies of rank and reputation, whose aspersions are equally a disgrace and an injury to the country wherein they are tolerated.

34.  The speeches of counsel on that trial being published in the newspapers, she requested my advice as to bringing an action for defamation against some of the parties. My reply to her was the same that had been pleasantly and adroitly given to myself by Sir John Doyle.

“If you wrestle with a chimney-sweeper,” said Sir John, “it is true you may throw your antagonist; but you will be sure to dirty your own coat by the encounter.” Never was there a better aphorism. Mrs. Jordan adopted it; and most properly satisfied herself with despising, instead of punishing, all her calumniators.

To contribute toward the prevention of all further doubt as to Mrs. Jordan’s unmixed happiness at the period of her residence at Bushy, as well as to exhibit the benevolence of her heart and the warmth of her attachments, I will introduce at this point extracts from some other letters addressed to myself:—


“My dear Sir,

“I cannot resist the pleasure of informing you that your dear boy has not only passed, but passed with great credit, at the Military College:—it gives us all the highest satisfaction. My two beloved boys are now at home:—they have both gone to South-Hill to see your Edward. We shall have a full and merry house at Christmas; ’tis what the dear duke delights in:—a happier set, when altogether, I believe never yet existed. The ill-natured parts of the world never can enjoy the tranquil pleasures of domestic happiness.

“I have made two most lucrative trips since I saw you. Adkinson came to see me at Liverpool—quite as poetical as ever, and the best-natured poet I believe in the world.

“Yours, ever truly,
Dora Jordan.”

“My dear Sir,

“I returned here on the 7th inst. after a very fatiguing, though very prosperous cruise of five weeks, and found all as well as I could wish. Your Edward left us this morning for Marlow: I found him improved in every thing. I never saw the duke enjoy any thing more than the poultry you sent us:[35] they were delicious: he desires me to offer his best regards to yourself and your ladies. Lucy is gone on a visit to Lady De Roos.

“Yours, most truly,
Dora Jordan.”

“My dear Sir,

“I have returned here:—but, alas! the happiness I had promised to myself has met a cruel check at finding the good duke very unwell. You can scarcely conceive my misery at the cause of such a disappointment: but there is every appearance of a favourable result not being very distant: ’tis his old periodical attack, but not near so severe as I have seen it. I shall not write to you as I intended till I can announce His Royal Highness’s recovery. I shall have neither head nor nerves to write, or even to think, till I am able to contribute to your pleasure, by announcing my own happiness and his recovery.

“* * * * &c.
Dora Jordan.
“Sir J. Barrington,
“Merrion-square, Dublin.”

35.  There were a species of chickens then to be had in Dublin such as I never saw in any other country;—as white as snow, very small, fat, and trussed up as round as little balls: the eye and the palate were equally gratified by them. The crammed fowls of Dublin were then also unrivalled. I believe they are now equalled in London, and vastly exceeded by the capons of Paris, which are quite delicious:—lamb at Paris, too, is finer than any where else.


“We have just returned from Maidenhead; and I postponed writing to you till I could give you an account of Edward, who, with Colonel Butler, dined with us there:—he looks wonderfully well, and the uniform becomes him extremely. On the ladies leaving the room, Colonel Butler gave the duke a very favourable account of him; and I trust it will give you and Lady Barrington the more satisfaction, when I assure you that it is by no means a partial account.

“I am sure you will be pleased to hear that your young friend Lucy is about to be married, much to my satisfaction, to Colonel Hawker, of the 14th dragoons: he is a most excellent man, and has a very good private property: she will make the best of wives; a better girl never yet lived: it makes me quite happy, and I intend to give her the value of 10,000l.

“* * * * &c.
Dora Jordan.

The days of Mrs. Jordan continued to pass on, alternately in the exercise of a lucrative profession and the domestic enjoyment of an adoring family, when circumstances (which, because mysterious to the public, are construed necessarily to imply culpability somewhere or other) occasioned a separation:—certainly an event most unexpected by those who had previously known the happy state of her connexion. I was at first ignorant of it, and it would be worse than presumption to enter into any converse on a subject at once so private, so delicate, and so interesting. Suffice it to say, that of all the accounts and surmises as to that event in which the public prints were pleased to indulge themselves, not one was true: indeed, I have good reason to believe that there was scarcely a single incident whereto that separation was publicly attributed, that had any degree of foundation whatsoever. Such circumstances should ever remain known to those only who feel the impropriety of amusing the readers at a news-room with subjects of private importance. I will, however, repeat, from authority I cannot doubt, that the separation took effect from causes no way dishonourable to either party: that it was not sought for by the one, nor necessary on the part of the other. It was too hasty to be discreet, and too much influenced by feelings of the moment to be hearty. Though not altogether unacquainted with those circumstances, I never presumed to make an observation upon the subject, save to contradict, in direct terms, statements which, at the time I heard them, I knew to be totally unfounded; and never was the British press more prostituted than in the malicious colouring given (and rather recently, too,) to the conduct of a royal personage on that occasion.

General Hawker, one of the late King’s aides-de-camp, had married Miss Jordan; and in the punctilious honour and integrity of this gentleman, every body who knew and knows him did and does rely with unmixed confidence. Such reliance His Royal Highness evinced by sending, through him, I believe, carte blanche to Mrs. Jordan, when the separation had been determined on, enabling her to dictate whatever she conceived would be fully adequate to her maintenance, without recurrence to her profession, in all the comforts to which she had been so long accustomed; and every thing she wished for was arranged to her satisfaction. Still, however, infatuated with attachment to theatrical pursuits, she continued to accept of temporary engagements to her great profit: and it will perhaps scarcely be credited, that so unsated were British audiences with Mrs. Jordan’s unrivalled performances, that even at her time of life, with certainly diminished powers and an altered person, the very last year she remained in England brought her a clear profit of near 7000l. I cannot be mistaken in this statement; for my authority (a person of truth and honour in their fullest extent) could not wilfully err on that point. The malicious representations, therefore, of her having been left straitened in pecuniary circumstances were literally fabulous; for to the very moment of her death she remained in full possession of all the means of comfort—nay, if she chose it, of luxury. Why, therefore, she emigrated, pined away, and expired in a foreign country (of whose language she was ignorant, and in whose habits she was wholly unversed), with every appearance of necessity, is also considered a mystery by those unacquainted with the cruel circumstances which led to that unfortunate catastrophe. It is not by my pen that miserable story, as I learned it, shall be told. It was a transaction wherein her royal friend had, directly or indirectly, no concern, nor did it in any way spring out of that connexion. She had, in fact, only to accuse herself of benevolence, confidence, and honour: to those demerits, and to the ingratitude of others, she fell a lingering, broken-hearted victim.

When His Royal Highness was informed of the determination on the part of her friends that Mrs. Jordan should take up a temporary residence on the continent, he insisted on her retaining the attendance of Miss K * * * *, who for many years had been attached to the establishment at Bushy, as superintendent and governess of the duke’s children. This lady, therefore, whose sincere attachment had been so long and truly proved, accompanied Mrs. Jordan (as I have understood) as her companion, and almost to the time of her death continued to administer to her comforts—endeavouring, so far as in her lay, by her society and attentions, to solace the mental misery which pressed upon her friend’s health and had extinguished her spirits. She was also accompanied to the continent by Colonel Hawker, the general’s brother: but, as she wished, during her residence in France, to be totally retired, she took no suite. She selected Boulogne as a place of convenient proximity to England; and in a cottage half a mile from that town awaited with indescribable anxiety the completion of those affairs which had occasioned her departure, rapturously anticipating the happiness of embracing her children afresh after a painful absence.


Decline of Mrs. Jordan’s health—Description of her cottage and grounds at Boulogne-sur-Mer—Madame Ducamp and her servant Agnes—Their account of Mrs. Jordan’s habits and manners—Removal of that lady to Versailles and subsequently to St. Cloud—Account of her illness and last moments.

The circumstances which induced Mrs. Jordan to repair to the continent were of such a nature, that the reader need not think it extraordinary that a deep impression was made upon her health; not indeed in the shape of actual disease, but by the workings of a troubled spirit, pondering and drooping over exaggerated misfortunes. Estranged, though only temporarily, from those she loved, and from that profession the resort to which had never failed to restore her animation and amuse her fancy, mental malady soon communicated its contagion to the physical organisation, and sickness began to make visible inroads on the heretofore healthy person of that lamented lady.

She established herself first at Boulogne-sur-Mer. A cottage was selected by her at Maquetra, about a quarter of a mile from the gate of the fortress. Often have I since, as if on classic ground, strolled down the little garden which had been there her greatest solace. The cottage is very small, but neat, commodious, and of cheerful aspect. A flower and fruit garden of corresponding dimensions, and a little paddock (comprising much less than half an acre) formed her demesne. In an adjoining cottage resided her old landlady, Madame Ducamp, who was in a state of competence, and altogether an original. She had married a gardener, much younger and of humbler birth than herself. I think she had been once handsome: her story I never heard fully; but it appeared that she had flourished during the Revolution. She spoke English when she pleased; and, like most Frenchwomen, when d’âge mûr, was querulous, intrusive, and curious beyond limitation, with as much professed good-nature as would serve at least fifty of our old English gentlewomen. She was not, in truth, devoid of the reality as well as the semblance of that quality: but she overacted the philanthropist, and consequently did not deceive those accustomed to look deeper than the surface. This good lady is still in statu quo, and very likely to remain so.

Under colour of taking her vacant cottage for a friend, a party of my family went to Maquetra, to learn what we could respecting Mrs. Jordan’s residence there. The old lady recollected her name, but pronounced it in a way which it was scarcely possible for us to recognise. A long conversation ensued, in some parts as interesting, and in others nearly as light as the subject could admit of.—Madame Ducamp repeated to us a hundred times, in five minutes, that she had “beaucoup, beaucoup de vénération pour cette chère, chère malheureuse dame Anglaise!” whom she assured us, with a deep sigh, was “sans doute un ange supérieur!” She was proceeding to tell us every thing she knew, or I suppose could invent, when, perceiving a child in the garden pulling the flowers, she abruptly discontinued her eulogium, and ran off to drive away the intruder; having done which, she returned to resume: but too late! in her absence her place had been fully and fairly occupied by Agnes, an ordinary French girl, Madame Ducamp’s bonne (servant of all work), whom we soon found was likely to prove a much more truth-telling person than her mistress.

Agnes informed us, with great feeling, that “the economy of that charming lady was very strict: nécessairement, je crains,” added she, with a slow movement of her head and a truly eloquent look. They had found out (she said) that their lodger had been once riche et magnifique; but when there she was very—very poor indeed! “But,” exclaimed the poor girl, her eye brightening up and her tone becoming firmer, “that could make no difference to me! si j’aime,—j’aime! J’ai servi cette pauvre dame avec le même zèle (peut-être encore plus) que si elle eut été une princesse!

This frank-hearted display of poor Agnes’s sentiments was extremely affecting; it was, however, not in fact called for, since Mrs. Jordan might have commanded, during the whole period of her continental residence, any sums she thought proper. She had money in the bank, in the funds, and in miscellaneous property, and had just before she came over received some thousands. But she was become nearly careless as well of pecuniary as other matters, and took up a whim (for it was nothing more) to affect poverty,—thus deceiving the world, and giving, herself, a vantage-ground to the gossiping and censorious.

Agnes’s information went on to show that Mrs. Jordan’s whole time was passed in anxious expectation of letters from England, and on the English post-days she was peculiarly miserable. We collected from the girl that her garden and guitar were her only resources against that consuming melancholy which steals even the elements of existence, and plunges both body and mind into a state of morbid languor—the fruitful parent of disease, insanity, and death.

At this point of the story Madame Ducamp would no longer be restrained, and returned to the charge with redoubled assertions of her own friendship to “the poor lady,” and bonne nature in general.

“Did you know her, Monsieur?” said she: “alas! she nearly broke my heart by trying to break her own!”

“I have heard of her since I arrived here, Madame,” replied I cautiously.

“Ah! Monsieur, Monsieur,” rejoined Madame Ducamp, “if you had known her as well as Agnes and I did, you would have loved her just as much. I am sure she had been accustomed to grandeur, though I could never découvrir la cause de sa ruine. Ah!” pursued Madame, “she was aimable et honnête beyond description; and though so very poor, paid her louage like a goddess.” At this moment some other matter, perhaps suggested by the word louage, came across the old woman’s brain, and she again trotted off. The remaining intelligence which we gathered from Agnes related chiefly to Mrs. Jordan’s fondness for music and perpetual indulgence therein, and to her own little achievements in the musical way on a guitar, which she produced,—whereby, she told us with infinite naïveté, she had frequently experienced the gratification of playing and singing Madame to sleep! She said that there was some little mutual difficulty in the first place as to understanding each other, since the stranger was ignorant of the French language, and she herself “had not the honour” to speak English. “However,” continued Agnes, “we formed a sort of language of our own, consisting of looks and signs, and in these Madame was more eloquent than any other person I had ever known.” Here the girl’s recollections seemed fairly to overcome her; and with that apparently exaggerated sensibility which is, nevertheless, natural to the character of her country, she burst into tears, exclaiming, “Oh Ciel! oh Ciel!—elle est morte! elle est morte![36]

36.  The intermixed French phrases which I have retained in sketching this conversation at Maquetra may perhaps appear affected to some; and I frankly admit there are few things in composition so disagreeable to me as a jumble of words culled from different tongues, and constituting a mélange which advances no just claim to the title of any language whatever. But those who are accustomed to the familiar terms and expressive ejaculations of French colloquy, know that the idiomatic mode of expression only can convey the true point and spirit of the dialogue, and more particularly does this observation apply to the variegated traits of character belonging to French females.

The conversation with Agnes consisted, on her part, nearly of broken sentences throughout—I may say, almost of looks and monosyllables! at all events, of simple and expressive words in a combination utterly unadapted to the English tongue. Let a well-educated and unprejudiced gentleman hold converse on the same topics with an English and a French girl, and his remarks as to the difference will not fail to illustrate what I have said.

Far—very far be it from me to depreciate the fair ones of our own country. I believe that they are steadier and better calculated to describe facts, or to advise in an emergency: but they must not be offended with me for adding, that in the expression of every feeling, either of a lively or tearful nature, as well as in the graces of motion, their elastic neighbours are immeasurably superior. Even their eyes speak idioms which our less pliable language cannot explain. I have seen humble girls in France who speak more in one second than many of our finest ladies could utter in almost a century! Chaqu’un a son goût, however; and I honestly confess, that a sensitive French girl would make but an ill-assorted match with a thorough-bred John Bull!

I cannot help thinking that the deep and indelible impression thus made by Mrs. Jordan upon an humble unsophisticated servant girl exemplifies her kind and winning manners better than the most laboured harangues of a whole host of biographers.

Madame Ducamp meanwhile had been fidgeting about, and arranging every thing to show off her cottage to the greatest advantage; and without further conversation, except as to the price of the tenement, we parted with mutual “assurances of the highest consideration.”

I renewed my visits to the old woman; but her stories were either so fabulous or disconnected, and those of Agnes so unvaried, that I saw no probability of acquiring further information, and lost sight of Mrs. Jordan’s situation for a considerable time after her departure from Boulogne. I thought it, by-the-bye, very extraordinary that neither the mistress nor maid said a word about any attendant of Mrs. Jordan, even although it was not till long after that I heard of Col. Hawker and Miss K * * * * having accompanied her from England. After Mrs. Jordan left Boulogne, it appears that she repaired to Versailles, and subsequently, in still greater privacy, to St. Cloud, where, totally secluded, and under the name of Johnson, she continued to await, with agitated impatience, in a state of extreme depression, the answers to some letters, by which was to be determined her future conduct as to the distressing business that had led her to the continent. Her solicitude arose not so much from the real importance of this affair as from her indignation and disgust at the ingratitude which she had experienced, and which by drawing aside the curtain from before her unwilling eyes, had exposed a novel and painful view of human nature.

At that period I occupied a large hotel adjoining the Bois de Boulogne. Not a mile intervened between us; yet, until long after Mrs. Jordan’s decease, I never heard she was in my neighbourhood. There was no occasion whatever for such entire seclusion; but the anguish of her mind had by this time so enfeebled her, that a bilious complaint was generated, and gradually increased. Its growth did not appear to give her much uneasiness—so dejected and lost had she become. Day after day her misery augmented, and at length she seemed (we were told) actually to regard the approach of dissolution with a kind of placid welcome!

The apartments she occupied at St. Cloud were in a house in the square adjoining the palace. This house appeared to me large, gloomy, cold, and inconvenient; just the sort of place which would tell in description in a romance. It seemed almost in a state of dilapidation. I could not, I am sure, wander over it at night without a superstitious feeling. The rooms were numerous, but small; the furniture scanty, old, and tattered. The hotel had obviously once belonged to some nobleman; and a long, lofty, flagged gallery stretched from one wing of it to the other, which looked over a large uncultivated garden, and a charming country beyond. But Mrs. Jordan’s chambers were wretched: no English comforts solaced her latter moments! In her little drawing-room, a small old sofa was the best piece of furniture: on this she constantly reclined, and on it she expired.[37]

37.  When I first saw Mrs. Jordan’s abode at St. Cloud, it was on a dismal, chilly winter’s day, and I was myself in corresponding mood. Hence perhaps every cheerless object was exaggerated, and I wrote on the spot the above description. I have again viewed the place: again beheld with melancholy interest the sofa on which Mrs. Jordan breathed her last. There it still, I believe, remains; but the whole premises have been repaired, and an English family has now one wing, together with an excellent garden, before overgrown with weeds: the two melancholy cypress-trees I first saw upon the little terrace yet remain. The surrounding prospect is undoubtedly very fine; but I would not, even were I made a present of that mansion, consent to reside in it one month;—in winter, not one night!

The account given to us of her last moments, by the master of the house, was very affecting: he likewise thought she was poor, and offered her the use of money, which offer was of course declined. Nevertheless, he said, he always considered her apparent poverty, and a magnificent diamond ring which she wore, as quite incompatible, and to him inexplicable. I have happened to learn since that she gave four hundred guineas for that superb ring. She had also with her, as I heard, many other valuable trinkets; and on her death, seals were put upon all her effects, which I understand still remain unclaimed.

From the time of her arrival at St. Cloud, it appears, Mrs. Jordan had exhibited the most restless anxiety for intelligence from England. Every post gave rise to increased solicitude, and every letter she received seemed to have a different effect on her feelings. Latterly she appeared more anxious and miserable than usual: her uneasiness increased almost momentarily, and her skin became wholly discoloured. From morning till night she lay sighing upon her sofa.

At length an interval of some posts occurred during which she received no answers to her letters, and her consequent anxiety, my informant said, seemed too great for mortal strength to bear up against. On the morning of her death this impatient feeling reached its crisis. The agitation was almost fearful: her eyes were now restless, now fixed; her motion rapid and unmeaning; and her whole manner seemed to bespeak the attack of some convulsive paroxysm. She eagerly requested Mr. C * * *, before the usual hour of delivery, to go for her letters to the post. On his return, she started up and held out her hand, as if impatient to receive them. He told her there were none. She stood a moment motionless; looked toward him with a vacant stare; held out her hand again, as if by an involuntary action; instantly withdrew it, and sank back upon the sofa from which she had arisen. He left the room to send up her attendant, who however had gone out, and Mr. C * * * returned himself to Mrs. Jordan. On his return, he observed some change in her looks that alarmed him: she spoke not a word, but gazed at him steadfastly. She wept not—no tear flowed: her face was one moment flushed—another livid: she sighed deeply, and her heart seemed bursting. Mr. C * * * stood uncertain what to do: but in a minute he heard her breath drawn more hardly, and as it were sobbingly. He was now thoroughly terrified: he hastily approached the sofa, and leaning over the unfortunate lady, discovered that those deep-drawn sobs had immediately preceded the moment of Mrs. Jordan’s dissolution. She was already no more!

Thus terminated the worldly career of a woman at the very head of her profession, and one of the best-hearted of her sex! Thus did she expire, after a life of celebrity and magnificence, in exile and solitude, and literally of a broken heart! She was buried by Mr. Forster, now chaplain to the ambassador.

Our informant told this little story with a feeling which evidently was not affected. The French have a mode of narrating even trivial matters with gesticulation and detail, whereby they are impressed on your memory. The slightest incident they repeat with emphasis; and on this occasion Mr. C * * * completed his account without any of those digressions in which his countrymen so frequently indulge.

Several English friends at Paris, a few years ago, entered into a determination to remove Mrs. Jordan’s body to Père la Chaise, and place a marble over her grave. The subscription, had the plan been proceeded in, would have been ample; but some (I think rather mistaken) ideas of delicacy at that time suspended its execution. As it is, I believe I may say, “Not a stone tells where she lies!”


Diversity of the author’s pursuits—Superficial acquirements contrasted with solid—Variety and change of study conducive to health—Breeding ideas—How to avoid ennui—The principles of memory and fear—The author’s theory respecting the former, and his motive for its introduction.

My pursuits from my earliest days have been (right or wrong) all of my own selection: some of them were rather of a whimsical character; others merely adopted pour passer le temps; a few of a graver and more solid cast. (The law was an indispensable one.) On the whole, I believe I may boast that few persons, if any, of similar standing in society adopted a greater variety of occupations than myself.

The truth is, I never suffered my mind to stagnate one moment; and unremittingly sought to bring it so far under my own controul, as to be enabled to turn its energies at all times, promptly and without difficulty, from the lightest pursuits to the most serious business, and vice versâ; and, for the time being, to occupy it exclusively on a single subject. These are the arts of managing thought; a person who can do such things is never bilious!

My system (if such it may be called) led me to a dabbling in sciences, arts, and literature—just sufficient to feed my intellect with varieties, and keep my mind busy and afloat without being overloaded: thus, I dipped irregularly into numerous elementary treatises, embracing a great variety of subjects—among which, even theology, chemistry, physic, anatomy, architecture, the trades and mechanical arts, (to say nothing of politics) were included. In a word, I looked into every species of publication I could lay my hands on; and I never have been honoured by one second of ennui, or felt a propensity to an hour’s languor during my existence except when I was actually sick. My mind is never disordered, and my brain having plenty of occupation, I never had time to go mad!

This fanciful—the reader may, if he pleases, say superficial and frivolous species of learning and self-employment, would, I doubt not, be scouted with contempt by learned LL. Ds., Bachelors of Arts, Fellows of Colleges, Wranglers at Universities, &c. These gentlemen very properly saturate their capacities with more solid stuff, each imbibing, even to the dregs, one or two dignified, substantial sciences, garnished with dead languages, and served up to their pupils with a proper seasoning of pedantry and importance. Thus they enjoy the gratification of being wiser in something than their neighbours, without much troubling their organs of variety; a plan, I readily admit, more appropriate to learning and philosophy, and perhaps more useful to others: but at the same time, I contend that mine (and I speak with the experience of a very long life) is conducive in a greater degree to pleasure, to health, to happiness; and I shrewdly suspect far more convenient to the greater number of capacities.

A certain portion of external and internal variety, like change of air, keeps the animal functions in due activity, while it renders the mind supple and elastic, and more capable of accommodating itself with promptitude to those difficult and trying circumstances into which the vicissitudes of life may plunge it. I admire and respect solid learning; but even a superficial knowledge of a variety of subjects tends to excite that inexhaustible succession of thoughts which, at hand on every emergency, gives tone and vigour both to the head and heart, (not infrequently excluding more unwelcome visitors,) and is a decided and triumphant enemy to hanging, drowning, shooting, cutting of throats, and every other species of suicide except that which so frequently originates from being too rich—a misfortune which seldom falls to the lot of persons who follow the system I have recommended. I do really think, that if a very rich man, who meditated suicide, would for one moment reflect what sincere pleasure his heirs, executors, administrators, and personal representatives (probably his wife and children) would derive from his dangling from the ceiling, he would lock up his rope and become vastly more hospitable.

All my life I perceived the advantage of breeding ideas: the brain can never be too populous, so long as you keep its inhabitants in that wholesome state of discipline, that they are under your command, not you under theirs; and, above all things, never suffer a mob of them to come jostling each other in your head at the same time: keep them as distinct as possible, or it is a hundred to one they will make a blockhead of you at last.

From this habit it has ensued that the longest day is always too short for me. If in tranquil mood, I find my ideas as playful as kittens; if chagrined, consolatory fancies are never wanting. When a man can send the five orders of architecture to build castles in the firmament, of any shape, size or materials he may fancy, and furnish it accordingly, I think a permanent state of melancholy quite unnecessary. Should I grow weary of thoughts relating to the present, my memory carries me back fifty or sixty years with equal politeness and activity; and never ceases shifting time, place, and person, till it lights on some matter more agreeable.

I had naturally very feeble sight: at fifty years of age, to my extreme surprise, I found it had strengthened so much as to render the continued use of spectacles unnecessary; and now I can peruse the smallest print without any glass, and can write a hand so minute, that I know several elderly gentlemen of my own decimal who cannot conquer it even with their reading-glasses. For general use I remark, that I have found my sight more confused by poring for a given length of time over one book, than in double that time when shifting from one print to another, and changing the place I sat in, and of course the quality of light and reflection: to a neglect of such precautions I attribute many of the weak and near visions so common with book-worms.

But another quality of inestimable value which I did and still do possess, thank Heaven! in a degree which, at my time of life, if not supernatural, is not very far from it—is a memory of the most wide-ranging powers: its retrospect is astonishing to myself, and has wonderfully increased since my necessary application to a single science has been dispensed with. The recollection of one early incident of our lives never fails to introduce another; and the marked occurrences of my life from childhood to the wrong side of a grand climacteric are at this moment fresh in my memory, in all their natural tints, as at the instant of their occurrence.

Without awarding any extraordinary merit either to the brain, or to those human organs generally regarded as the seat of recollection, or rather retention of ideas, I think this fact may be accounted for in a much simpler way—more on philosophical than on organic principles. I do not insist on my theory being a true one; but as it is, like Touchstone’s forest-treasure, “my own,” I like it, and am content to hold by it “for better, for worse.”

The two qualities of the human mind with which we are most strongly endowed in childhood are those of fear and memory; both of which accompany us throughout all our worldly peregrinations—with this difference, that with age the one generally declines, while the other increases.

The mind has a tablet whereon Memory begins to engrave occurrences even in our earliest days, and which in old age is full of her handy-work, so that there is no room for any more inscriptions. Hence old people recollect occurrences long past better than those of more recent date; and though an old person can faithfully recount the exploits of his schoolfellows, he will scarcely recollect what he himself was doing the day before yesterday.

It is also observable that the recollection, at an advanced period, of the incidents of childhood, does not require that extent of memory which at first sight may appear essential; neither is it necessary to bound at once over the wide gulf of life between sixty years and three.

Memory results from a connected sequence of thought and observation: so that intervening occurrences draw up the recollection as it were to preceding ones, and thus each fresh-excited act of remembrance in fact operates as a new incident. When a person recollects well (as one is apt to do) a correction which he received in his childhood, or whilst a schoolboy, he probably owes his recollection not to the whipping, but to the name of the book which he was whipped for neglecting; and whenever the book is occasionally mentioned, the whipping is recalled, revived, and perpetuated in the memory.

I once received a correction at school, when learning prosody, for falsely pronouncing the word semisopitus; and though this was between fifty and sixty years ago, I have never since heard prosody mentioned but I have recollected that word, and had the schoolmaster and his rod clearly before my eyes. I even recollect the very leaf of the book whereon the word was printed. Every time I look into a book of poetry, I must of course think of prosody, and prosody suggests semisopitus, and brings before me, on the instant, the scene of my disgrace.

This one example is sufficient for my theory, and proves also the advantage of breeding ideas, since, the more links to a chain, the farther it reaches.

The faculty of memory varies in individuals almost as much as their features. One man may recollect names, dates, pages, numbers, admirably, who does not well remember incidents or anecdotes; and a linguist will retain fifty thousand words, not one-tenth part of which a wit can bury any depth in his recollection.

This admission may tend to excite doubts and arguments against the general application of my theory: but I aim not at making proselytes; indeed I have only said thus much to anticipate observations which may naturally be made respecting the extent to which my memory has carried the retention of bygone circumstances, and to allay the scepticism which might perhaps otherwise follow.


Letter from the author to Mr. Burne, relating to the political conduct of the former at the period of the Union—Extracts from letters written to the author by Lord Westmoreland—General reflections on the political condition of Ireland at the present time—Hint toward the revival of a curious old statute—Clerical justices—The king in Ireland—The Corporation of Dublin—The “Glorious Memory”—Catholics and Protestants—Mischievous virulence of party feeling.

The introduction of the following letter and extracts (though somewhat digressive from my original intention in compiling this work) is important to me, notwithstanding they relate to times so long past by; inasmuch as certain recent calumnies assiduously propagated against me demanded at my hands a justification of my conduct toward government at the period of the Union. With this view the letter in question was written to my friend Mr. Burne, whom I requested to communicate its contents to my connexions in Dublin, or indeed to any person who might have been prejudiced against me by those aspersions. Having, however, reason to fear that only a very partial circulation of my letter took place, I have adopted this opportunity of giving it full publicity by mixing it up with these sketches:—

“Paris, Rue de Richelieu, 2nd May, 1825.

“My dear Friend,

“I am well aware that the reports you mention as to my ‘having broken trust with the government in the years 1799 and 1800’ had been at one period most freely circulated: but I could scarcely suppose the same would be again and lately revived, to do me injury on a very important concern. This has not been altogether without its operation, and I feel it a duty to myself unequivocally to refute such imputation. The fact is proved in few words:—I could not break my trust with the government, for I never accepted any trust from them. I never entered into any stipulation or political engagement with any government; and every public act which I did—every instance of support which I gave, resulted from my own free agency and unbiassed judgment.

“My first return to parliament, in the year 1790, for the city of Tuam, was altogether at my own expense. I had before stood a contested election for Ballynakill, formerly my father’s borough. I was under no tie nor obligation to the government: I had not then, nor have I ever had, any patron; I never, in fact, solicited patronage: I never submitted to the dictation of any man in my life: my connexion with government therefore was my own choice, and the consequent support I gave to Lord Westmoreland’s administration of my own freewill. I liked Lord Buckinghamshire (Major Hobart) individually, and lived much in his society: I respected Lord Westmoreland highly, and he has always been very obliging to me during a period of seven-and-thirty years whenever he had an opportunity. During his administration I accepted office; and on his recall, he recommended Lord Camden to return me to parliament. Mr. Pelham did so for the city of Clogher; but made no sort of terms with me, directly or indirectly. In the autumn of 1798 Mr. Cooke wrote to me, and I had two interviews with him; on the second, I found that a Union would probably be submitted to parliament; and I promptly replied, that I must decline all further support to any government which should propose so destructive a measure, at the same time tendering my seat. He replied, ‘That I should think better of it.’

“Lord Cornwallis came over to carry this great measure; and I opposed him, Lord Castlereagh, and the Union, in every stage of the business, and by every means in my power, both in and out of parliament. Lord Cornwallis was defeated: he tried again;—Lord Castlereagh had purchased or packed a small majority in the interval, and the bill was carried. In January, 1800, I received a letter from Lord Westmoreland, stating that as Clogher had been a government seat, he doubted if I could in honour retain it. I had already made up my mind to resign it when required. I mentioned the subject to Mr. Forster, the speaker, who thought I was not bound to resign; however, I acceded to the suggestion of Lord Westmoreland, and accepted an escheatorship. But no office in his Majesty’s gift—no power, no deprivation, would have ever induced me to support the Union.

“I stood, at my own expense, a very hard-contested election for Maryborough, Queen’s County, in which I was supported by Sir Robert Staples, Mr. Cosby of Stradbally Hall, Dean Walsh, Colonel Pigot, Mr. Warburton, (member for the county,) the Honourable Robert Moore, (against his brother, the Marquess of Drogheda,) &c., and by the tenantry of the present Lord Maryborough. I was outvoted by a majority of three, the scale being turned against me by Lord Castlereagh, who sent down Lord Norbury, the crown solicitor, and several such-like gentry for the purpose. With that election my political career concluded: but I am happy and proud to state that, at its termination, I retained the confidence and esteem of every body whose friendship I considered it desirable to retain. Lord Westmoreland bears the most unexceptionable testimony to my straightforward conduct: I have been honoured by his friendship, without intermission, down to the present day; and the following extracts from his lordship’s letters to me, wherein he states his desire to bear witness to my strict conduct in my transactions with government, form the best refutal of all these calumnies against me.

“Since the period of my retirement from public life two of my then most intimate friends (namely, the present Chief Justice Bush and the present Attorney-general Plunkett) have succeeded beyond their most sanguine expectations, yet certainly not beyond their just merits. No government could pass such men by, at the bar, if they chose to claim offices. They took the same, and as strong an anti-Union part as I did; but, after the Union, my public pursuits were nearly at an end. Ireland lost all charms for me; the parliament (the source of all my pride, ambition, and gratification as a public man) had been bought and sold; I felt myself as if nobody,—became languid, careless, and indifferent to every thing. I was no longer in fact in my proper sphere: my health rapidly declined; and I neither sought for nor would have accepted any other government office in Ireland.

“Most of these facts, my dear Burne, you have been long acquainted with; and this is solely a recapitulation of some circumstances which I have no other means of making generally known. You will use it as you think may best serve me; and it only remains for me to repeat, what you already know, that I am most sincerely

“Yours ever,
Jonah Barrington.
“John Burne, Esq., K. C.

Extracts of letters from the Earl of Westmoreland to Sir Jonah Barrington (enclosed to Mr. Burne):—

“London, March 28th, 1795.

“My dear Sir,

* * * * * “I shall always be obliged to you whenever you will have the goodness to let me know what is going on on your side of the water, wherein I am convinced you will always bear a very considerable part. I must at the same time assure you that no man’s name is more in public repute than your own.

“Lord Camden left town this morning, and I have not failed to assure him of your talents and spirit, which were so useful to my government on many occasions; and which, as I am satisfied he will find equally so, so is he equally disposed, I believe, to give them that countenance they deserve.

“The state of Ireland since I left you is most wonderful, but the reign of faction seems drawing to a close.

“I beg to be remembered to all friends, and am,

“Dear Sir, yours very faithfully,
“To Jonah Barrington, Esq., one of His
“Majesty’s Counsel at Law, &c. &c.
“Merrion-square, Dublin.”

Much correspondence took place between his lordship and me after that period, in which he was always equally kind.[38] Indeed, in that kindness he never varied; and after knowing me seven-and-thirty years, (the most important of all revolutions having during that interval taken place in Ireland,) and after I had directly and diametrically opposed, in parliament and out of it, his lordship’s opinion and acts upon that great question;—the following extract of another letter from the same nobleman (dated 1817) proves that he never has changed his opinion of my honourable conduct toward the king’s government, (and permits me to state his approbation of that conduct,) every part of which he must have well known; since he had been, with very little intermission, a member of the British cabinet during the entire period.

38.  He proposed, and superficially effected, a reconciliation between me and Lord Castlereagh: it had no good practical effect for me, but occasioned a very important episode in my history, which I may hereafter mention, though not in the present work.

“Paris, 19th August, 1817.

“Dear Sir,

* * * * “I have enclosed you a letter of introduction to Sir C. Stuart, and will certainly speak to him as you wish, and shall have great pleasure if it should prove of any convenience to you or your family: and I assure you I have always much satisfaction in giving my testimony to the honourable manner in which you have always conducted yourself in the political relations wherein you have stood with me.

“I am your very faithful servant,

I also added the following, by way of postscript, to my explanatory letter to Mr. Burne:—

“I think, my dear Burne, that after these testimonials, he must be a daring enemy who will reassert the calumnies against me. I apprehend that few public men can show more decided proofs of honour and consistency than I, in the fair and disinterested conduct I displayed when I found it necessary to oppose the government. I must also observe, on a principle of gratitude, that throughout the whole course of my public life I have uniformly experienced from the government and ministers of England, (let me here particularise Lord Stowell,) at all times and on all occasions, whether supporting or opposing them, the greatest kindness, justice, and considerate attention; together with a much greater interest, in any concerns of mine submitted to them, than I could possibly have conceived, much less have expected.

“But his Majesty’s public functionaries in Ireland were men of a different bearing: after the surveillance of a local parliament was extinguished, the country was, as it were, given over to them, bound hand and foot, and they at once assumed new powers, which before they durst not even have aimed at. Every grade of public functionaries bounded above their station; and brevet rank was no longer confined to military officers. I possess much knowledge respecting some of them, of the communication of which they are not aware; and I am not inclined to permit certain individuals to go down to their graves without hearing my observations. When the proper time arrives I shall not be silent.

“Again, dear Burne, yours,
J. Barrington.”

On reading over the foregoing postscript of the letter to my poor friend Burne (who has lately paid his debt on demand to Nature), some observations occur to me respecting Ireland herself, her parties, and species of government, not uncongenial to the subject of that letter. The justice of these observations each day’s experience tends to prove; and I firmly believe many members of the British government at this moment view the matter precisely as I do. They find it difficult, however, to disentangle themselves from the opinions which have been so frequently expressed by themselves heretofore, and which, had they been equally informed then as now, would never, I apprehend, have been entertained. The people of England, and also of some continental kingdoms, are fully aware of the distracted state of Ireland, but are at a loss to account for it. It is, however, now in proof, that twenty-seven years of Union have been twenty-seven years of beggary and of disturbance; and this result, I may fairly say, I always foresaw. The only question now asked is, “What is to be done?” and the only comment on this question that it is in my power to make is, “a council of peace is better than a council of war.” Much of the unfortunate state of that country may be attributed to the kindred agency of two causes—namely, fanaticism in Ireland, and ignorance (I mean, want of true information) in Great Britain. The Irish are deluded by contesting factions, and by the predominance of a couple of watchwords;[39] while the great body of the English people know as little of Ireland (except of its disturbances) as they do of Kamschatka; and the king’s ministers, being unluckily of different opinions, go on debating and considering what is best to be done, and meanwhile doing nothing. If they do not take care, in some time there may be nothing left them to do. This is now my decided sentiment. A spectator can see the play much better than the gamester.

39.  An ancient law still appears among the statutes of Ireland to prohibit the natives of that country from using the words Crum-a-boo, and Butler-a-hoo, as being the watchwords of two most troublesome hostile factions, which kept, at the period of the prohibition, the whole nation in a state of uproar. In my mind, a revival of that salutary enactment would not be amiss just now. A similar case (as regards the existing state of things) may be easily made out; and, as we lawyers say, “like case like rule.” As the statute is still upon our books, there is a precedent at hand, and it will only be necessary to amend it by changing the two terms Crum-a-boo and Butler-a-hoo, into Ascendancy-a-boo and Emancipation-a-hoo! The penalty for raising these cries might be the treadmill; and there can be little doubt that so wholesome a measure would speedily tranquillise the country, and save a good deal of rope, some anatomising, and the turning religion into a subject for debating societies.

I firmly believe England now means well and honourably to the Irish nation on all points, but I think she is totally mistaken as to measures. Neither honourable intentions, nor Sunday-schools, nor the four rules of arithmetic, nor Bible societies, can preserve people from starving: education is a very good thing in its proper place, but a sorry substitute for food; and I know the Irish well enough to say they never will be taught peace upon an empty stomach. Work creates industry, and industry produces the means of averting hunger; and when they have work enough and food enough, are permitted to dance on Sundays, and fight once a year, they may be turned to any thing. I speak, of course, of the lowest orders: the class immediately above those is now very unmanageable, because it is supported by its starving inferiors, who depend upon it alone for subsistence—the higher being absent. The nature and materials of the present species of Irish constitution appear to me totally unadapted to the necessities of that country. The Union never should have existed, or it should have been more perfect:—no half-mounted government can ever rule Ireland.

It is but too obvious that the natural attachment which ought to subsist between Great Britain and Ireland is not increasing, though on the due cultivation of that attachment so entirely depends the strength, the peace, and the prosperity of the United Empire; yet I fearlessly repeat that, in my mind, the English members of the imperial parliament mean well by Ireland, and only require to ascertain her true circumstances to act for her tranquillisation. Politically they may be sure that the imperium in imperio, as at present operating in that country, is not calculated to reform it. The protecting body of the country gentlemen have evacuated Ireland, and in their stead we now find official clerks, griping agents, haughty functionaries, proud clergy, and agitating demagogues. The resident aristocracy of Ireland, if not quite extinguished, is hourly diminishing; and it is a political truism, that the co-existence of an oligarchy without a cabinet; a resident executive and an absent legislature; tenants without landlord, and magistracy without legal knowledge;[40] must be, from its nature, a form of constitution at once incongruous, inefficient, and dangerous. Nobody can appreciate the native loyalty of the Irish people better than his present Majesty, whose reception in Ireland was enthusiastic: they adored him when he left it; and amidst millions of reputed rebels he wanted no protection: every man would have been his life-guard! I speak not however of corporations or guilds—of gourmands, or city feasters: these have spoken for themselves, and loudly too. His Majesty’s wise and paternal orders were ridiculed and disobeyed by them the very moment his back was turned! With such folks the defunct King William seems more popular than the living King George.[41]

40.  I allude here more particularly to the clerical justices of Ireland. I believe I only coincide with some of the first English lawyers of this day, in maintaining that clergymen should confine themselves to spiritual and charitable duties, in doing justice to which ample occupation would be afforded them.

41.  I lately met rather a noted corporator of Dublin in Paris. Of course I did not spare my interrogations as to the existing state of things; and in the course of conversation I asked why, after the king’s visit to Dublin, and his conciliatory admonitions, the corporation still appeared to prefer the Boyne Water and King William? “Lord bless you, Sir Jonah! (replied the corporator) as for the wather, we don’t care a rap dam about that; but if we once gave up ould King William, we’d give up all our plisures! Only for the ‘glorious mimory’ we would not have a toast now to get drunk with—eh! Sir Jonah? ha! ha! ha!” To humour the corporator, I did not hesitate to join in the hearty laugh which he set up in satisfaction at his own waggery.

Sound government, and the sufferance of active local factions are, in my view of things, utterly incompatible. Faction and fanaticism (no matter on which side ranged) ought to be put down to the ground—gently, if possible; but if a strong hand be necessary, it should not be withheld. In Ireland it has now proceeded too far to be longer blinked at. The British cabinet may be somewhat divided; but they will soon see the imperative necessity of firmness and unanimity. It is shameful that the whole empire should thus be kept in a state of agitation by the pretended theological animosities of two contending sects—a great proportion of whose respective partisans are in no way influenced by religion, the true object of their controversy being “who shall get the uppermost.” It is a struggle that cannot continue. There is a “tide” in the affairs of empires as well as of individuals: every fever has a crisis. Ireland is in one now. I am no factionist, I am no fanatic: I am the partisan only of tranquillity in the country where I drew my first breath.

I learn from Ireland with great pleasure—indeed, I read of general satisfaction being experienced at one of the ablest lawyers and most decisive, moderate, and unbiassed public functionaries of England having been presented as a head to my profession:—’tis a good beginning:—ça ira!


Peace of 1814—The Bourbons and émigrés generally—Motives of the author in visiting the continent—His departure from England with his family—Arrival at Havre de Grace—The Côteau d’Ingouville—Doctor Sorerie and his graduated scale—The Pavilion Poulet—Price of commodities at Havre—Rate of exchange—English assumption abroad—The author’s rural retirement disturbed by Napoleon’s return from Elba—Circumstances attending the announcement of this fact at Havre—Previous demonstrations of the inhabitants of the town, and more particularly of the military quartered there—Uniform of the old guard—Two Russians mutilated by the mob—Retirement of Louis le Désiré from Paris—Curious variety of feeling manifested among the people at Havre—Policy of the priests—Good humour of all parties—Recruiting for the Emperor and the King—Consternation of the English at Havre—Meeting at the house of the consul, Mr. Stuart—A vinous harangue—Prompt embarkation of the British—Accommodations of a storehouse—The huissiers and the spring showers—Signs of the times.

On the abdication of the Emperor Napoleon in the year 1814, my curiosity was greatly excited to view the alteration which different revolutions, a military government, and a long-protracted warfare, must necessarily have made in the manners, habits, and appearance of the French people. My ardent desire to see the emperor himself had been defeated by his abdication, and no hope remained to me of ever enjoying the sight of so celebrated a personage.

The royal family of France I had the honour of meeting often in society during the long visit with which they favoured the British nation;—the last time was at Earl Moira’s, one of their most zealous friends: my curiosity on that score was therefore quite satisfied. I had also known many, and had formed a very decisive opinion as to most, of their countrymen who had emigrated to England; nor has the experience acquired during my residence in France at all tended to alter the nature of that opinion. Some of these men have, I fear, the worst memories of any people existing!—indeed, it should seem that since their return home, they must have drunk most plentifully of Lethe.

I was extremely desirous also to see the persons who had rendered themselves so conspicuous during the long and mighty struggle wherein the destinies of Europe were all at stake—the great heroes both of the field and cabinet; and, therefore, upon the restoration of King Louis, I determined to visit Paris, the rather as my family were infected with the same curiosity as myself.

Accordingly we set out on our journey, taking Havre de Grace in our route to the metropolis. I was then in a very declining state of health, and consequently unnerved and incapable of much energy either mental or corporeal. On arriving at Havre, I was so captivated by the fine air and beautiful situation of the Côteau d’Ingouville, (rising immediately over the town,) that we determined to tarry there a few months, and visit Paris in the spring, when my health and strength should be renovated; and never did any person recover both so rapidly as I did during the short period of my sojourn on that spot.

Doctor Sorerie, (the first physician at Havre,) told me that he divided the hill of Ingouville into three medical compartments: “the summit,” said he, “never requires the aid of a physician—the middle portion only twice a year—the base always.” His fanciful estimate, he assured me, was a perfectly true one; and, on the strength of that assurance, I rented the beautiful cottage on the summit of the hill, called the Pavillon Poulet, now occupied, I believe, by the American consul. All around was new to me: of course I was the more observing; and the result of my observations was, that I considered Havre, in 1815, as being a hundred years behind England in almost every thing. Tea was only sold there as a species of medicine, at the apothecaries’ shops; and articles of cotton manufacture were in general more than double the price of silk fabrics. The market was very good and very moderate; the hotels most execrable. But the most provoking of all things which I found at Havre was the rate of exchange: the utmost I could get for a one-pound Bank of England note was sixteen francs; or for an accepted banker’s bill, sixteen francs and a half to the pound (about fourteen shillings for my twenty). This kind of thing, in profound peace, surprised me, and the more particularly, as the English guinea was at a premium, and the smooth English shilling at a high premium, though of little intrinsic value.

A visit paid to the continent after so very long an exclusion, really made one feel as if about to explore a kind of terra incognita, and gave everything a novel and perhaps over-important character to the traveller. In a country altogether strange, ordinary occurrences often assume the dignity of adventures; and incidents which at home would scarcely have been noticed, become invested on the sudden with an air of interest. Our fellow-countrymen are too apt to undervalue every thing which differs from their own established ways either of acting, thinking, or eating. For this overbearing spirit they have been and are plentifully and justly quizzed by the natives of other countries. Yet they exhibit few signs of amendment. An Englishman seems to think it matter of course that he must be lord of the ascendant wherever he travels, and is sometimes reminded of his mistake in a manner any thing but gentle.[42] The impatience he constantly manifests of any foreign trait, whether of habit or character, is really quite amusing. If Sterne’s Maria had figured away at Manchester, or his Monk at Liverpool, both the one and the other would have been deemed fit objects either for a mad-house or house of correction: probably the girl would have been committed by his worship the mayor to Bedlam, and the old man to the treadmill. In fact, Yorick’s sentiment in France would be nonsense at Birmingham; and La Fleur’s letter to the corporal’s wife be considered as decided evidence of crim. con. by an alderman of Cripplegate.

42.  In the years 1815 and 16, the very frequent quarrels between the French and English gave rise to a curious embarrassment. The French would only fight with the sword, the English with the pistol; it was impossible to please both parties: however the French soon put the matter into a course of equality. Schools to teach pistol-firing were established in divers parts of Paris: the best “point-blankers” were provided. Each student paid a small fee for ten shots and proper instructions: they began by firing at a large baby; first, at his body, then his head, and at length at his eye. The young Frenchmen soon became the very best shots I ever saw: even “Sligo” now need not be ashamed of them. Hence quarrels have grown far less frequent; indeed rare, but generally fatal: that accounts for it.

As for myself, I have of late felt a sort of medium sensation. As men become stricken in years, a species of venerable insipidity insinuates itself among their feelings. A great proportion of mine had turned sour by long keeping, and I set out on my travels without one quarter of the good-nature which I had possessed thirty years before. My palate was admirably disposed at the time to feast upon novelties, of which I had made up my mind to take a full meal, and thought I should be all the better prepared by a few months of salubrious air and rural tranquillity.

The interval, however, which I had thus devoted to quiet, and thorough reinstatement of health upon the breezy and delightful Côteau d’Ingouville, and which I expected would flow on smoothly for some months, (without the shadow of an adventure, or, indeed, any thing calculated to interfere with my perfect composure,) turned out to be one filled with the most extraordinary occurrences which have ever marked the history of Europe.

The sudden return of Napoleon from Elba, and the speedy flight of the French king and royal family from the Tuileries, without a single effort being made to defend them, appeared to me, at the time, of all possible incidents the most extraordinary and least expected. The important events which followed in rapid and perplexing succession afforded me scope for extensive observation, whereof I did not fail to take advantage. My opportunities were indeed great and peculiar:—but few, comparatively, of my fellow-countrymen had as yet ventured into France: those who did avail themselves of the conclusion of peace in 1814, fled the country in dismay, on the return of Napoleon; whilst I, by staying there throughout his brief second reign, was enabled to ascertain facts known to very few in England, and hitherto not published by any.

At Havre it appeared clearly to me that Napoleon, during his absence, was any thing but forgotten or disesteemed. The empress, when there, had become surprisingly popular amongst all classes of people; and the misfortunes of her husband had only served to render his memory more dear to his brother-soldiers, by whom he was evidently still regarded as their general and their prince. In truth, not only by the soldiers, but generally by the civic ranks, Louis, rather than Napoleon, was looked on there as the usurper.

There were two regiments of the line at Havre, the officers of which made no secret of their sentiments, whilst the men appeared to me inclined for any thing but obedience to the Bourbon dynasty. The spirit which I could not help seeing in full activity here, it was rational to conclude, operated in other parts of the kingdom, and the justice of this inference was suddenly manifested by the course of events.

We were well acquainted with the colonel and superior officers of one of the regiments then in garrison. The colonel, a very fine soldier-like man, about forty-five, with the reputation of being a brave officer and an individual at once candid, liberal, and decided, was singularly frank in giving his opinions on all public subjects. He made no attempt to conceal his indestructible attachment to Napoleon; and I should think (for his tendencies must necessarily have been reported to the government) that he was continued in command only from a consciousness on their part that, if they removed him, they must at the same moment have disarmed and disbanded the regiment,—a measure which the Bourbon family was then by no means strong enough to hazard.

On one occasion, the colonel, in speaking to me whilst company was sitting around us, observed, with a sardonic smile, that his master, Louis, was not quite so firmly seated as his émigrés seemed to think. “The puissant allies,” continued he, sneering as he spoke, “may change a king, but” (and his voice rose the while,) “they cannot change a people.”

Circumstances, in fact, daily conspired to prove to me that the army was still Napoleon’s. The surgeon of that same regiment was an Italian, accounted very clever in his profession, good-natured, intelligent, and obliging; but so careless of his dress, that he was generally called by us the “dirty doctor.” This person was less anxious even than his comrades to conceal his sentiments of men and things, both politically and generally; never failing, whether in public or private, to declare his opinion, and his attachment to “the exile.”

A ball and supper was given by the prefect and other authorities of Havre in honour of Louis le Désiré’s restoration. The affair was very splendid: we were invited, and went accordingly. I there perceived our dirty doctor, dressed most gorgeously in military uniform, but not that of his regiment. I asked him to what corps it appertained: he put his hand to his mouth, and whispered me, “C’est l’uniforme de mon cœur!” (“Tis the uniform of my heart!”) It was the dress uniform of Napoleon’s old guard, in which the doctor had served. The incident spoke a volume, and (as to the sentiments of its wearer) was decisive.

About six weeks after that incident two small parties of soldiers of the garrison passed repeatedly through the market-place, on a market-day, with drawn swords, flourishing them in the air, and crying incessantly, “Vive Napoleon! vive l’Empereur!” but they did not manifest the slightest disposition towards riot or disturbance, and no body appeared either to be surprised at or to mind them much. I was speaking to a French officer at the time, and he, like the rest of the spectators, showed no wish to interfere with these men, or to prohibit the continuance of their exclamations, nor did he remark in any way upon the circumstance. I hence naturally enough inferred the state of public feeling, and the very slight hold which Louis le Désiré then had upon the crown of his ancestors.

A much more curious occurrence took place, when a small detachment of Russian cavalry, which had remained in France from the termination of the campaign, were sent down to Havre, there to sell their horses and embark for their native country. The visit appeared to me to be a most unwelcome one to the inhabitants of the place, and still more so, as might be expected, to the military stationed there. The Russians were very fine-looking fellows, of large size, but with a want of flexibility in their limbs and motions; and were thence contrasted rather unfavourably with the alert French soldiery, who, in manœuvring and rapid firing, must have a great advantage over the northern stiffness.

I had the pleasure of becoming acquainted at Havre with Mr. Wright, a very respectable gentleman, and I believe, by affinity, a nephew of Mr. Windham. We had been in a café together, and were returning to our hotel about ten o’clock at night, when we saw a small assemblage of people collected at the church-door in the main street. There were some women amongst them, and they seemed earnestly employed on some business which the total darkness of the night prevented us from seeing. There was in fact no light around save one glimmering lamp in the porch of the church-door, where the people appeared fairly knotted together. There was scarcely any noise made above a sort of buzz, or as it were, rather a suppression of voices. Mr. Wright remained stationary whilst I went across the street to reconnoitre; and after a good deal of peeping over shoulders and under arms, I could perceive that the mob was in the act of deliberately cutting off the ears of two powerful-looking Russian soldiers, who were held so fast by many men, that they had not the least capability of resistance. They seemed to bear the application of the blunt knives of their assailants with considerable fortitude, and the women were preparing to complete the trimming with scissors!—but one glance was quite enough for me. I got away as quick as thought; and as the circumstance of Mr. Wright wearing mustaches might possibly cost him his ears, I advised him to get into a house as soon as possible: he took to his heels on the suggestion, and I was not slow in following. The next day I saw one of the Russians in the street with a guard to protect him—his head tied up with bloody cloths, and cutting altogether a most frightful figure. All the French seemed highly diverted, and shouted out their congratulations to the Russian, who however took no manner of notice of the compliment.

I believe the authorities did all they could in this affair to apprehend the trimmers, but unsuccessfully. Some individuals were, it is true, taken up on suspicion; but as soon as the Russians were embarked they were liberated. In fact the local dignitaries knew that they were not as yet sufficiently strong to enforce punishment for carving a Russian.

I often received great entertainment from sounding many of the most respectable Frenchmen whose acquaintance I made at Havre with regard to their political tendencies; and the result as well of my queries as of my observations led me to perceive that there were not wanting numerous persons by whom the return of Bonaparte, sooner or later, was looked forward to as an occurrence by no means either violently improbable, or undesirable.

Nevertheless, no very deep impression was made on my mind as to these matters, until one morning Lady Barrington, returning from Havre, brought me a small printed paper, announcing the emperor’s actual return from Elba, and that he was on his route for Paris. I believed the evidence of my eye-sight on reading the paper; but I certainly did not believe its contents. I went off immediately to my landlord, Mr. Poulet, a great royalist, and his countenance explained circumstances sufficiently before I asked a single question. The sub-prefect soon left the town: but the intelligence was scarcely credited, and not at all to its full extent. I went into every café and public place, and through every street. In all directions I saw groups of people, anxious and busily engaged in converse. I was much amused by observing the various effects of the intelligence on persons of different opinions, and by contrasting the countenances of those who thronged the thoroughfares.

I did not myself give credence to the latter part of this intelligence—namely, that Bonaparte was on his way to Paris. I could not suppose that the king had found it impracticable to command the services of a single regiment; and it must be confessed that his majesty, a man of excellent sense, had, under all the circumstances, made a very bad use of his time in acquiring popularity, either civil or military. Notwithstanding the addition of Désiré to his Christian name, (wherewith it had been graced by Messieurs les émigrés,) it is self-evident that outward demonstrations alone had been conceded to him of respect and attachment. I never heard that surname appropriated to him at Havre, by-the-bye, except by the prefects and revenue officers.

The dismal faces of the Bourbonites, the grinning ones of the Bonapartists, and the puzzled countenances of the neutrals were mingled together in the oddest combinations: throughout the town every body seemed to be talking at once, and the scene was undoubtedly of the strangest character, in all its varieties. Joy, grief, fear, courage, self-interest, love of peace, and love of battle—each had its votaries. Merchants, priests, douaniers, military officers, were strolling about, each apparently influenced by some distinctive feeling: one sensation alone seemed common to all—that of astonishment.

The singularity of the scene every moment increased. On the day immediately ensuing fugitives from Paris, full of news of all descriptions, came in as quick as horses and cabriolets could bring them. Bulletin after bulletin arrived—messenger after messenger! But all the dispatches in any shape official combined in making light of the matter. The intelligence communicated by private individuals, however, was very contradictory. One, for instance, stated positively that the army had declared against Napoleon; another that it had declared for him; a third that it had not declared at all! One said that Napoleon was surrounded:—“Yes,” returned a bystander, “but it is by his friends!” Towards evening every group seemed to be quite busy making up their minds as to the news of the day, and the part they might think it advisable to take: as for the English, they were frightened out of their wits, and the women had no doubt that they should all be committed to gaol before next morning.

I observed, however, that amidst all this bustle, and mass of conflicting opinions, scarce a single priest was visible: these cunning gentry had (to use a significant expression) determined, if possible, “not to play their cards till they were sure what was trumps.” On the preceding Sunday they had throughout the entire day been chanting benedictions on Louis le Désiré and on St. Louis his great-grandfather; but on the sabbath which followed, if they chanted at all, (as they were bound to do,) they would necessarily run a great risk of chanting for the last time in their lives, if they left out Napoleon; and, inasmuch as they were unable to string together Louis le Désiré, Napoleon, and St. Louis, in one benedicite, a most distressing dilemma became inevitable amongst the clergy! Common sense, however, soon pointed out their safest course: a plea of compulsion operating on the meek resignation of their holy trade, might serve as an excellent apology, on the part of an ecclesiastical family, in the presumption of Louis’s becoming victor; but in the emperor, they had to deal with a different sort of person, as they well knew—with a man who would not be put off with unmeaning excuses, and in due homage to whom it would be dangerous to fail. Under all circumstances, therefore, they took up a line of conduct which I cannot but think was very wise and discreet, proceeding as it did upon the principle “of two evils choose the least.” Their loyalty was decided by their fears, which sufficed to stimulate the whole body of priests and curés at Havre, old and young, to uplift their voices with becoming enthusiasm in benediction of “Napoleon le Grand!” Indeed they seemed to be of opinion that, having taken their ground, it would be as well to appear in earnest; and never did they work harder than in chanting a Te Deum laudamus in honour of their old master’s return: to be serious, I believe they durst not have done otherwise; for I heard some of the military say very decidedly, that if the priests played any tricks upon the occasion, they would hash them!

The observation which surprised me most of all was, that though the two parties had declared themselves, and the fleur-de-lis and eagle were displayed in direct opposition to each other throughout the town;—though the sub-prefect had run away, whilst the tricoloured flag was floating in one place, and the white one in another,—no practical animosity or ill blood whatsoever broke out amongst the respective partisans. The bustle somewhat resembled that of an English election, but had none of the violence or dissipation, and only half the noise, which circulate on those august occasions. On the contrary, civility was maintained by every one: the soldiers were very properly kept in their barracks; and an Englishman could scarcely conceive so polite, peaceable, temperate, and cheerful a revolution—more particularly as neither party could tell on which side the treason would ultimately rest.

At length orders came from Napoleon, at Lyons, that the imperial army should be recruited; while, at the very moment this order arrived, some of the merchants and officers of the national guards were actually beating up for the royal armament. The drums of the respective partisans rattled away through every street, and the recruiters often passed each other with the utmost courtesy: not one man was seen in a state of intoxication on either side. Meanwhile there was no lack of recruits to range themselves under either standard; and it was most curious to observe that these men very frequently changed their opinions and their party before sunset! I think most recruits joined the king’s party: his serjeants had plenty of money, while Napoleon’s had none; and this was a most tempting distinction—far better than any abstract consideration of political benefit. Many of the recruits managed matters even better than the priests, for they took the king’s money in the morning, and the emperor’s cockade in the afternoon; so that they could not be accused on either side of unqualified partiality. The votaries of le Désiré and le Grand were indeed so jumbled and shuffled together, (like a pack of cards when on the point of being dealt,) that nobody could possibly decipher which had the best chance of succeeding.

The English alone cast a dark and gloomy shade over the gay scene that surrounded them; their lengthened visages, sunken eyes, and hanging features proclaiming their terror and despondency. Every one fancied he should be incarcerated for life, if he could not escape before Napoleon arrived at Paris, which seemed extremely problematical; and I really think I never saw a set of men in better humour for suicide than my fellow-countrymen, who stalked like ghosts along the pier and sea-side.

The British consul, Mr. Stuart, (a littérateur and a gentleman, but whose wine generally regulated his nerves, while his nerves governed his understanding,) as good-natured a person as could possibly be about a couple of bottles after dinner, (for so he counted time,—a mode of computation in which he certainly was as regular as clockwork,) called a general meeting of all the British subjects in Havre, at his apartments; and after each had taken a bumper of Madeira to “George the Third,” he opened the business in as long and flowery an harangue, in English and Latin, as the grape of Midi and its derivative distillations could possibly dictate.

“My friends and countrymen,” said Mr. Stuart, “I have good consular reasons for telling you all, that if Bonaparte gets into Paris, he will order every mother’s babe of you, men, women, and children, et cetera, into gaol for ten or twelve years at the least computation! and I therefore advise you all, magnus, major, maximus, and parvus, minor, minimus, to take yourselves off without any delay great or small, and thereby save your bacon while you have the power of doing so. Don’t wait to take care of your property; nulla bona is better than nulla libertas. As for me, I am bound ex-officio to devote myself for my country! I will risk my life (and here he looked heroical) to protect your property; I will remain behind!”

The conclusion of the consul’s speech was a signal for the simultaneous uplifting of many voices.—“I’ll be off certainly!” exclaimed one terrified gentleman.—“Every man for himself, God for us all: the devil take the hindmost!” shouted another.—“Do you mean to affront me, Sir?” demanded the worthy self-devoted consul, starting from his seat. A regular uproar now ensued; but the thing was soon explained, and tranquillity restored.

Two ships were next day hired, at an enormous price, to carry the English out of the reach of Bonaparte. The wind blew a gale, but no hurricane could be so terrific as Napoleon. Their property was a serious consideration to my fellow-countrymen; however, there was no choice: they therefore packed up all their small valuables, and relinquished the residue to the protection of Providence and the consul.

In a short time all was ready; and, as Mr. Stuart had advised, men, women, children, and lap-dogs, all rushed to the quay; while, in emulation of the orator at the consul’s, “the devil take the hindmost,” if not universally expressed, was universally the principle of action. Two children, in this most undignified sort of confusion, fell into the sea, but were picked up. The struggling, screeching, scrambling, &c. were at length completed; and in a shorter time than might be supposed, the English population were duly shipped, and away they went under a hard gale. Dr. Johnson calls a ship a prison with the chance of being drowned in it; and as if to prove the correctness of the doctor’s definition, before night was over one vessel was ashore, and the whole of its company just on the point of increasing the population of the British Channel.

Havre de Grace being thus emptied of the king of England’s subjects, who were “saving their bacon” at sea, in a violent hurricane, the consul began to take care of their property: but there being a thing called loyer, or rent, in France as well as in England, the huissiers (bailiffs) of the town saved the consul a great deal of trouble respecting his guardianship in divers instances. Nevertheless, so far as he could, he most faithfully performed his promise to the fugitives, for the reception of whose effects he rented a large storehouse, and so far all was wisely, courteously, and carefully managed: but not exactly recollecting that the parties did not possess the property as tenants in common, the worthy consul omitted to have distinct inventories taken of each person’s respective chattels, though, to avoid any risk of favouritism, he had all jumbled together; and such an heterogeneous medley was perhaps never seen elsewhere. Clothes, household furniture, kitchen utensils, books, linen, empty bottles, musical instruments, &c. strewed the floor of the storehouse in “most admired disorder.” All being safely stowed, locks, bolts, and bars were elaborately constructed, to exclude such as might feel a disposition to picking and stealing; but, alas! the best intentions and the most cautious provisions are sometimes frustrated by accident or oversight. In the present instance, in his extraordinary anxiety to secure the door, Mr. Stuart was perfectly heedless of the roof; and in consequence, the intrusion of the rain, which often descended in torrents, effectually saved most of the proprietors the trouble of identifying their goods after the result of the glorious battle of Waterloo. Disputes also were endless as to the right and title of various claimants to various articles; and in the result, the huissiers and the landlord of the storehouse were once more intruders upon the protected property.

To return—Havre being completely evacuated by my countrymen, it now became necessary to strike out some line of proceeding for myself and family. Sir William Johnson, who was in the town, had participated in the general alarm, and had set off with his household for the Netherlands, advising me to do the same. I was afterward informed, though falsely, that they all foundered in a dyke near Antwerp. In the mean time, the transformation of things at Havre became complete, and perfect order quickly succeeded the temporary agitation. The tri-coloured flag was again hoisted at the port; and all the painters of the town were busily employed in changing the royal signs into imperial ones. One auberge, Louis le Désiré, was changed into a blue boar: the Duchesse d’Angoulême became the Virgin Mary: royal was new-gilt into imperial once more at the lottery offices: fleurs-de-lis were metamorphosed, in a single day, into beautiful spread-eagles: and the Duc de Berry, who had hung creaking so peaceably on his post before the door of an hotel, became, in a few hours, St. Peter himself, with the keys of Heaven dangling from his little finger!


A family council—Journey from Havre to Paris—Attention of the French officers to the author and his party—Peaceable condition of the intervening country—Thoughts on revolutions in general—Ireland in 1798—Arrival in the French capital—Admirable state of the police—Henry Thevenot—Misgivings of the author—His interview with Count Bertrand—Polite conduct of the Count—The Emperor’s chapel—Napoleon at mass—His deportment—Treasonable garments—Col. Gowen—Military inspection after mass—Alteration in the manner of the Emperor—Enthusiasm of the soldiers.

To see Napoleon, or not to see Napoleon,—that was the question! and well weighed it was in my domestic republic. After a day’s reasoning, pro and con, (curiosity being pitted against fear, and women in the question,) the matter was still undecided, when our friends the colonel and the dirty doctor came to visit us, and set the point at rest, by stating that the regiments at Havre had declared unanimously for the emperor, and that the colonel had determined to march next day direct upon Paris; that therefore if we were disposed to go thither, and would set off at the same time, the doctor should take care of our safety, and see that we had good cheer on our journey to the metropolis.

This proposal was unanimously adopted; we were at peace with France, and might possibly remain so; and the curiosity of three ladies, with my own to back it, proved to be totally irresistible. A new sub-prefect also having arrived in the town, came to see us; expressed his regret that the English should have deemed it necessary to quit the place; and gave us a letter of introduction to his wife, who lived in the Rue St. Honoré, at Paris. We all believed there would be no war.

We immediately packed up. I procured three stout horses to my carriage, and away we went after the advanced guard of the (as well as I recollect) 41st regiment. The soldiers seemed to me as if they thought they never could get to Napoleon soon enough: they marched with surprising rapidity; and after a most agreeable journey, we arrived at the good city of Paris without any let or hindrance; having experienced from the dirty doctor every possible attention. We were sure of the best cheer at any place we halted at; and the more so as the advanced guard only preceded us one stage, and the main body of the troops was a stage behind us. We were immediately escorted by four mounted soldiers, who were in attendance upon our medical friend. I have learnt since that this kind and firm-hearted man escaped the campaign and returned to Italy: the colonel was shot dangerously at Quatre Bras, but I understand his wounds did not prove mortal.

Our route from Havre to Paris exhibited one general scene of peace and tranquillity, not dashed by the slightest symptom of revolution. The national guards every where appeared to have got new clothing, and were most assiduously learning in the villages to hold up their heads, and take long strides and lock steps, but (for any thing that appeared to the contrary) solely for their own amusement. The same evidences of undisturbed serenity and good-humour were displayed in all directions, and the practice of military exercises by the national guards was the only warlike indication of any kind throughout the whole extent of country we traversed.

On our arrival at the capital we found no exception therein to the tranquillity of the provinces. People at a distance are apt to conceive that a revolution must necessarily be a most terrific affair—a period of anarchy and confusion, when every thing is in a state of animosity, bustle, and insecurity. This is in some instances a great mistake; (although, generally speaking, true enough;) for, on the other hand, many modern revolutions have been effected, governments upset, dynasties annihilated, and kings trucked, with as little confusion as the exchanging a gig-horse. I have indeed seen more work made about the change of a hat than of a diadem; more anxiety expressed touching a cane than a sceptre; and never did any revolution more completely prove the truth of these remarks than that in France during March, 1815, when Napoleon quietly drove up post, in a chaise and four, to the palace of the Bourbons, and Louis XVIII. as quietly drove off post, in a chaise and four, to avoid his visitor. Both parties, too, were driven back again, within three months, pretty nearly in the same kind of vehicle! Let my reader compare, for his edification, this bloodless revolution with the attempt at revolution in the obscure corner of the globe from whence I sprang, Anno Domini 1798 during the brief summer of which year there was, in secluded Ireland, (the kingdom of Ireland, as it was then called,) more robbery, shooting, hanging, burning, piking, flogging, and picketing, than takes place in half a dozen of the best got-up continental revolutions—always excepting that great convulsion which agitated our French neighbours toward the close of the eighteenth century.

During the interval of the Hundred Days, and some time subsequently, I kept a regular diary, wherein I accurately took down every important circumstance, except some which I then considered much safer in my mind than under my hand; and a few of these are now, for the first time, submitted to the public. After some days’ stay in Paris, I began to feel rather awkward. I found very few of my fellow-countrymen had remained there, and that there seemed to exist but little partiality toward the English. But the police was perfect, and no outrage, robbery, or breach of the peace was heard of; nor could I find that there were any political prisoners in the gaols, or in fact many prisoners of any kind. No dissolutes were suffered to parade the streets or contaminate the theatres; and all appeared polite, tranquil, and correct. I kept totally clear, meanwhile, both in word and deed, of political subjects.

I hired as footman a person then very well known in Paris, Henry Thevenot. I have since heard (but cannot vouch for the fact) that he is the Thevenot who attended Mr. Wakefield and Miss Turner. I have likewise recently been apprised that, at the time I engaged him, he was actually on the police establishment. Be that as it may, I certainly always considered Thevenot to be a mysterious kind of person, and, on one particular occasion, which will be hereafter mentioned, discharged him suddenly, without enlarging on my reasons: he was however an excellent servant. I had brought a passport from the new Sous-Préfet at Havre, which having lodged at the police-office, I felt quite at my ease; but, reflecting afterward upon the probable consequence in case of war or change of circumstances, I determined at once to take a bold step and go to the Palais de Bourbon Elysée, (where Napoleon resided,) and endeavour to see Count Bertrand, whom I proposed to inform truly of my situation, and ask for a carte de sureté, or a passport to return.

On the second day whereon I made an attempt to see him, with difficulty I succeeded in obtaining an audience. I told the count who I was, and all the facts, together with my doubts as to the propriety of remaining. He very politely said I should have what I required, but that a gentleman in my station was perfectly safe, and there could be no difficulty as to my remaining as long as I chose; and concluded by bowing me out, after a very short interview. As I was going down the steps an officer recalled me, and asked if I had any family in Paris. I replied in the affirmative—three ladies: mutual bows ensued, and I returned very well satisfied with the result of my visit to the Palais de Bourbon Elysée. At that time the emperor was employed day and night on business in the palace: at daybreak he occasionally rode out with some of his staff, to inspect the works at Montmartre; and on hearing this, my ancient curiosity to see so distinguished a person came afresh upon me.

The ensuing day, a man with a large letter-box buckled before him entered our apartment without the least ceremony, and delivered a letter with “Bertrand” signed at the corner. I was rather startled at the moment, as the occurrence certainly looked singular: nevertheless, the man’s appearance and manner were not such as to confirm unpleasant surmises, and I proceeded to unseal the envelope, which enclosed a billet to the Commissaire de Police at the prefecture, desiring him to grant me a carte de sureté and a sauf conduit through any part of France, if I chose to travel in that country—(the signature was not that of Bertrand):—the packet also contained a polite note from an aide-de-camp of the count, mentioning that he was directed to enclose me an admission to the emperor’s chapel, &c. and to say that, on production of my carte de sureté, our party would find a free admission to the theatres and other spectacles of Paris.—So much politeness (so very different from what would have been the case in England) both gratified and surprised me. I wrote a letter of thanks; but at our privy council, we agreed that, under existing circumstances, it would be better to say nothing of the latter favour. I afterward discovered the friendly quarter through which it originated.

We hired a calèche by the month, and set out with a determination to lose no time in seeing whatever was interesting; and in fact every thing was at that moment interesting to strangers. We spoke French sufficiently well for ordinary purposes; and determined, in short, to make ourselves as comfortable as possible.

I have already observed that I kept a diary during the Hundred Days, but afterward thought it most prudent not to commit any thing very important to writing. From that diary, so far as I pursued it, (and from scraps which nobody could understand but myself,) I have since selected some details and observations which have not hitherto been published, and for the collection of which my peculiar situation at Paris, and consequent opportunities, abundantly qualified me. Consistently with the foregoing part of these fragments, I shall not even attempt any thing like strict order or chronological arrangement, but leave, generally speaking, the various subjects brought before the reader’s attention to illustrate and explain each other. On this principle, I shall now, without further prelude, describe the first scene which impressed itself on my imagination.

The first Sunday after the receipt of our permission we repaired to the emperor’s chapel, to see that wonderful man, and to hear mass chanted in the first style of church music. Napoleon had already entered: the chapel was full; but we got seats very low down, near the gallery in which the emperor sat; and as he frequently leaned over the front, I had opportunities of partially seeing him. In the presence of so celebrated a man as Bonaparte, all other things sank into comparative insignificance, and the attention of the spectator was wholly absorbed by the one great object. Thus, in the present case, there was nothing either in the chapel or congregation that had power to divide my regards with the great Napoleon. As I have said, he often leaned over the front of the gallery wherein he sat; and I had thence an opportunity of observing that he seemed quite restless, took snuff repeatedly, stroked down his head with an abstracted air—and, in fact, was obviously possessed by feelings of deep anxiety. I should not suppose he had at the moment the least consciousness as to where he was, and that, of all things, the priests and the mass were the last likely to occupy his thoughts.

Whilst thus employed in reconnoitring the emperor as intensely as stolen glances afforded me means of doing, a buzz in the chapel caused me to turn round to ascertain its cause. Though low, it increased every moment, and was palpably directed toward us—so much so, that no doubt remained of our being somehow or other the sole objects of it. I then whispered my companions that our presence was evidently offensive in that place, and that we had better retire, when a French lady who sat near Lady Barrington, said to her, “Madame, you perceive that you are the object of this uncourteous notice.”—“Yes,” replied she, “it is become quite obvious.” The French lady smiled, and continued, “You had better lay aside your shawls!”—Lady Barrington and my daughter accordingly, taking the hint, threw off the shawls, which they suffered to drop at their feet, and at once the buzzing subsided, and no further explanation took place until the conclusion of the service.

At that moment several French ladies came up with great courtesy, to apologise for the apparent rudeness of the congregation, which they begged Lady Barrington to excuse on account of its cause, and to examine her shawl, on doing which, she would perceive that it was very unlucky (bien mal à propos) to wear such a one in presence of the emperor. She did so, and found that both hers and my daughter’s (though very fine ones) were unfortunately speckled all over with fleurs-de-lis! They had been sold her the preceding day by a knavish shopkeeper at the Passage Feydeau, who, seeing she was a foreigner, had put off these articles, thinking it a good opportunity to decrease his stock in that kind of gear, the sale whereof would probably be pronounced high treason before the month was over.

The confusion of the ladies at this éclaircissement may be well conceived; but it was speedily alleviated by the elegant consolations and extreme politeness of the Frenchwomen. Among those who addressed us was a gentleman in the uniform of a colonel of the national guards; he spoke to me in perfect English, and begged to introduce his family to mine. I told him who I was, and he asked us to a dinner and ball next day at his house in the Rue de Clichy. We accepted his invitation, and were magnificently entertained. This was Colonel Gowen, the proprietor of the first stamp-paper manufactory in France—a most excellent, hospitable, and friendly person, but ill-requited, I fear, afterward by some of our countrymen. I subsequently experienced many proofs of his hospitality and attention.

An English lady (the wife of Dr. Marshall, an English physician) was also remarkably attentive and polite on this occasion, and gave her card to Lady Barrington, No. 10, Rue Pigale:—so that the affair of the shawl, so far from being mal à propos, seemed to turn out quite a lucky adventure.

In viewing Napoleon that day, it was not the splendid superiority of his rank; it was neither his diadem, sceptre, nor power, which communicated that involuntary sensation of awe it was impossible not to feel:—it was the gigantic degree of talent whereby a man of obscure origin had been raised so far above his fellows. The spectator could not but deeply reflect on the mystic nature of those decrees of Providence which had placed Napoleon Bonaparte on one of the highest of earthly thrones and at the very pinnacle of glory; had hurled him from that eminence and driven him into exile; and now seemed again to have warranted his second elevation, replacing him upon that throne even more wondrously than when he first ascended it.

Such were my impressions on my first sight of the Emperor Napoleon. So much has he been seen and scrutinised throughout the world,—so familiar must his countenance have been to millions,—so many descriptions have been given of his person and of his features by those who knew him well,—that any portrait by me must appear to be at least superfluous. Every person, however, has a right to form his own independent judgment on subjects of physiognomy, and it is singular enough that I have never yet met any one with whom I entirely coincided as to the peculiar expression of Napoleon’s features;—and I have some right to speak, for I saw him at periods and under circumstances that wrought on and agitated every muscle of his fine countenance, and have fancied (perhaps ridiculously) that I could trace indications of character therein unnoticed by his biographers. Several who have confidently spoken of his physiognomy never saw him; by such, therefore, any estimation of its cast cannot be very accurate.

On this day my observations must necessarily have been superficial: yet I thought I could perceive, in the movement of a single feature, some strong-excited feeling, some sensation detached and wandering away from the ordinary modes of thinking, though I could not even guess from what passion or through what impulse that sensation originated. After I had seen him often, I collated the emotions palpable in his countenance with the vicissitudes of his past life, fancying that I might thence acquire some data to go upon in estimating the tone of his thoughts: but at this first sight, so diversified were the appearances as he leaned over the gallery, that even Lavater could not have deciphered his sensations. He was uneasy, making almost convulsive motions, and I perceived occasionally a quiver on his lip: on the whole, my anxiety was raised a hundredfold to be placed in some situation where I might translate at leisure the workings of his expressive countenance. That opportunity was after a short interval fully given me.

On the same day I had indeed a second occasion of observing the emperor, and in a much more interesting occupation—more to his taste, and which obviously changed the entire cast of his looks, quite divesting them of that deep, penetrating, gloomy character, which had saddened his countenance during the time he was at chapel. After mass he first came out upon the balcony in front of the Tuileries: his personal staff, marshals, generals, and a few ladies surrounded him; while the civil officers of the court, in the richest dresses, stood in small groups aside, as if wishing to have nothing to do with the military spectacle. Napoleon was now about to inspect eight or ten thousand of the army in the Place Carousel. The transition from an array of priests to a parade of warriors—from the hymns of the saints to the shouting of the soldiery—from the heavy, although solemn, music of the organ to the inspiriting notes of the drum—added greatly to the effect of the scene, which strongly impressed my mind, alive and open to all these novel incidents. Age had not then, nor has it yet, effaced the susceptibility of my nature. I own the latter scene was on that day to my mind vastly preferable to the first: the countenance of Napoleon was metamorphosed; it became illuminated; he descended from the balcony, and mounted a gray barb. He was now obviously in his element: the troops, as I have said, amounted to about ten thousand: I did not conceive the court of the Tuileries could hold so many.

Napoleon was now fully exposed to our view. His face acknowledged the effect of climate: his forehead, though high and thinly strewn with hair, did not convey to me any particular trait; his eyebrows, when at rest, were not expressive, neither did his eyes on that occasion speak as much as I should have expected; but the lower part of his face fixed my attention at once. It was about his mouth and chin that character seemed to be concentrated. I thought, on the whole, that I could perceive a mixture of steadiness and caprice, of passion and generosity, of control and impetuousness; but I could decide on nothing.

My attention, however, was soon turned to the inspection itself. There was not a soldier who did not appear nearly frantic with exultation, and whose very heart, I believe, did not beat in unison with the hurrahs wherewith they received their favourite leader.

It was the first time I had ever heard a crowd express its boisterous pleasure in a tone of sensibility unknown in our country. The troops were in earnest, and so was the general. The old guard (including such as had returned from Elba and such as had rejoined their colours) formed a body of men superior to any I ever before witnessed. Descriptions of Napoleon amidst his soldiers are however so common, that I will not occupy either the reader’s time or my own by enlarging further on the subject.


Doctor and Mrs. Marshall—Col. Macirone, aide-de-camp to Joachim Murat, while king of Naples—General Arthur O’Connor—Lord and Lady Kinnaird—His lordship under the surveillance of the police—Suspected of espionage, and arrested, but set at liberty immediately after—Messrs. Hobhouse and Bruce—Dr. Marshall’s correct information as to passing events—Real character of the coterie at his house—Madame la parente du ministre Fouché—Misconception of the minister’s Swiss porter—Henry Thevenot.

Shortly after this period I became particularly intimate with Dr. Marshall, a circumstance which, in the paucity of English who had remained in Paris, was productive to me of great satisfaction. He was a man of prepossessing appearance and address; had travelled much; had acted (he informed me) as physician to the army in Egypt, &c.; and had gone on some confidential missions to Murat while king of Naples. His wife was a pretty woman, rather en bon point, about thirty, and with the complete appearance and address of a gentlewoman. The doctor kept a very handsome establishment, and entertained small companies splendidly.

The society I met there consisted, generally, of Col. Macirone, who had been aide-de-camp to Murat, and has published an account of the romantic circumstances attendant on the death of that ill-fated man. Another member of the society was Count Julien, formerly, I believe, some secretary or civil officer of Murat, a boisterous, overbearing fat man, consequential without being dignified, dressy without being neat, and with a showy politeness that wanted the elements of civility. Count Julien was the only person I met at Doctor Marshall’s whose character or occupation I had much curiosity about.

Fouché was then the emperor’s minister of police, and they all appeared to be more or less acquainted with him: but I had not then the slightest idea that most of them were in some way employés of the police minister, and hollow friends, if not absolute enemies to Napoleon.

I met several other gentlemen less remarkable at Doctor Marshall’s; many of them I never saw again: some were Italians, but mostly French. Only one lady appeared besides the mistress of the house. This was a plain, rational, sedate woman under forty. She was introduced to us by Mrs. Marshall as the wife of a relative of Fouché, and at that time (with her husband) on a visit to his excellency at his hotel, Rue Cerutti.

One day before dinner, at Dr. Marshall’s house, I observed this lady, just on our arrival, hurrying into Mrs. Marshall’s boudoir, and when dinner was announced she re-entered decked out with a set of remarkable coral ornaments, which I had seen Mrs. Marshall wear several times. This circumstance struck me at the moment, but was neither recollected nor accounted for till we paid an unlucky visit to that “relative of Fouché,” when the whole enigma became developed, and my suspicions fairly aroused.

Dr. Marshall meanwhile continued to gain much on my esteem. He saw that I was greedy of information as to the affairs of Italy; and he, as well as Col. Macirone, saturated me in consequence with anecdotes of the court of Naples, and of Murat himself, highly entertaining, and I believe authentic; for I do really think that Macirone was sincerely attached to that king, and attended his person with friendship and sincerity. On the contrary, Count Julien seemed to me incapable of much feeling, and perfectly indifferent as to any body’s fate but his own. This, however, I only give as my individual opinion: I soon lost sight of the man altogether. Once (I think the day of the abdication) I saw him at Fouché’s office, whither I strolled to make observations. He was lavishing the most boundless invectives against the ex-emperor.

In the midst of this society I passed my time during the greater part of the Hundred Days: and Doctor Marshall informing me, I believe truly, that he was on terms of confidence (though not immediately) with Fouché, and well knowing that he might with perfect security communicate any thing to me (I should be silent for my own sake), scarce a day passed but we had much conversation in his garden; and he certainly did give me very correct information as to the state of affairs and the condition of the emperor, together with much that was not equally correct, regarding himself. This I occasionally and partially perceived; but his address was imposing and particularly agreeable: he was good-natured and hospitable.

We had also cultivated our acquaintance (originated through the adventure of the shawls) with Colonel Gowen, of the national guards, whose hotel in Rue Clichy bore a most extraordinary castellated appearance, and was surrounded by very large gardens, where we were often nobly entertained: the leads of the hotel overlooked Tivoli, and indeed every place about Paris. The colonel lived extremely well; spoke English perfectly; and might, in fact, be mistaken for an hospitable colonel of British yeomanry.

Another gentleman, a Mr. Lewins, I also happened accidentally to meet, who was an Irishman, and whom I had known many years previously. We became intimate, and I derived utility and information from that acquaintance. This gentleman knew, and had long known, much more of past French affairs and individuals than any of my other acquaintances; and seeming at the same time replete with good-nature (with his politics, which I really believe were very undecided, I had nothing to do), I could not fail to be a gainer by our intercourse, which continued.

Another more remarkable and very clever person, Mr. Arthur O’Connor, was then a French general unemployed. I had known him thirty years before: he had married the daughter and sole heiress of the unfortunate and learned Marquis de Condorcet; and was prohibited from returning to his native country by act of parliament. General Arthur O’Connor was a remarkably strong-minded, clever man, with a fine face and manly air: he had besides a great deal of Irish national character, to some of the failings whereof he united several of its best qualities. I met him, and relished his company highly. For old acquaintance sake I professed and truly felt a friendship for him; and, differing as we did upon public subjects, we talked over all without arguing upon any, which is the only agreeable method of conversation among persons whose opinions do not coincide.

Lord and Lady Kinnaird were also in Paris at that period. I did not pay my respects to them for a very singular, though at such a time a very sufficient reason. Her ladyship was the daughter of one of my most respected friends, the late Duke of Leinster, to every member of whose family I owe all possible attention: but Lord Kinnaird, by over-acting his part, had drawn on himself an absurd degree of suspicion; and I had been informed by a friend, in confidence, that every person who was seen visiting him was immediately suspected likewise, and put secretly under surveillance, which would not have been particularly agreeable to me. In a little time this information was curiously illustrated. I was informed that Lord Kinnaird had been arrested by order of Fouché: but Fouché soon found he had fallen into a very ridiculous error; and I believe his lordship was immediately liberated with an ample apology. I heard also incidentally among the employés, (for I took care at all times to display no inordinate curiosity even though I might be literally bursting with that feeling,) that his lordship was accustomed to express himself so hyperbolically in favour of Napoleon, that the police (to whom every thing was made known by unsuspected domestics) could not give his lordship credit for sincerity, and therefore took for granted that he was playing some double game: in fact, they fancied he was a spy!—using ultra eulogiums on the emperor to cloke a secret design.

Messrs. Hobhouse and Bruce were both in Paris at the same period, and I have often regretted that I did not know them. I afterward knew the latter well, when in La Force with Sir R. Wilson and my friend Mr. J. Hutchinson, for assisting the escape of Lavalette. I found in Mr. Bruce an able man with some excellent qualities, and a thirst after information, which I admire in any body.

These, together with the family of Mr. Talbot, were the only English whom I met in Paris immediately after my arrival and during the most momentous crisis Europe ever witnessed.[43] That point of time formed it was then supposed the pivot whereon the future destiny of every nation in the fairest quarter of the globe was vibrating:—but I am here trenching on a subject in which the nature of this work does not permit me to indulge.

43.  There were others, but I knew them not. One mysterious person I was then well acquainted with. I have for several years past lost sight of him; and never could find out who he was. He was clever, intelligent, and actively friendly: obviously not rich, and as obviously not poor.—I should be glad to see him again.

The successive occurrences at Paris, after Napoleon’s return, were daily published, and are known to every body. The press seemed free from restraint, and every public act was recorded: it was therefore to the private acts and characters of men I applied my observation, as forming the best ground for speculative opinions, (which that portentous interval necessarily tended to stimulate,) and likewise as calculated to yield the best materials for future entertainment.

Dr. Marshall was, as I have already stated, on certain occasions confidentially employed by Fouché; and placing some confidence in me—perhaps not duly estimating the extent of my curiosity,—he was very communicative. (I think he hated the principles of Fouché.) In fact, not a day passed, particularly after Napoleon’s return from Waterloo, that I did not make some discovery through the doctor, as much from his air of mystery as from direct admissions. From him I collected Fouché’s flagitious character, and the ductility and total absence of principle exhibited by some of his attachés.

The intelligence I daily acquired did not surprise, but greatly disgusted me. Napoleon had many false friends. I hate treachery in all its ramifications: it is not, generally speaking, a French characteristic; but Fouché certainly displayed a complete personification of it. Men of that description generally do each other strict justice, by the operation and exercise of mutual hatred, contempt, and invective. I never heard one such person say a kind word of another behind his back; and when a man is necessitated by policy to puff a brother villain, it is not difficult for a stander-by to decipher the sneer of jealousy and mental reservation distorting the muscles of the speaker’s countenance, and involuntarily disclosing the very feeling which he was perhaps desirous to conceal.

Thus was it with various tools of that treacherous minister; and in his own countenance were engraven distinctly the characteristics of plausibility, cunning and insincerity. From the first moment I saw Fouché, and more particularly when I heard him coldly swear fidelity to his imperial master, I involuntarily imbibed a strong sensation of dislike. His features held out no inducement to place confidence in their owner: on the contrary, they could not but tend to beget distrust and disesteem. The suspicions which they generated in me I never could overcome, and the sequel proved how just were my anticipations.

After awhile, I began slightly to suspect the composition of the society I was associating with, and it occurred to me to request that Lady Barrington would pay a visit to the lady we had met at Doctor Marshall’s, and whom we had understood from Doctor and Mrs. Marshall to be on a visit to Fouché, her relative. I proposed to go also, and leave my card for her husband, whom we had not yet seen. We accordingly waited on them at Fouché’s hotel, and asked the Swiss if madame was at home.

Madame!” said the porter; “madame! quelle madame?” as if he had heard us imperfectly. We had forgotten her name, and could therefore only reply, “madame la parente de monsieur le ministre.”

Parente de monsieur le ministre?” repeated the Swiss. “There is no such person here, monsieur,” with a half-saucy shrug.

“Oh yes,” exclaimed I: “she is on a visit to the Duc D’Otrante.”

No, no, monsieur et madame,” repeated the pertinacious Swiss: “point du tout!” and he seemed impatient to send us away; but after a moment’s pause, the fellow burst out into a fit of laughter. “I beg your pardon, monsieur et madame,” said he, “I begin to understand whom you mean. Your friend undoubtedly resides in the hotel, but she is just now from home.”

I handed him our cards for her and her husband. On reading “Le Chevalier et Milady,” the man looked more respectful, but apparently could not control his laughter. When, however, he at length recovered himself, he bowed very low, begged pardon again, and said he thought we had been inquiring for some vraie madame. The word stimulated my curiosity, and I hastily demanded its meaning; when it turned out that monsieur was the maitre d’hotel, and madame, his wife, looked to the linen, china, &c. as femme de confiance:—in English, housekeeper!

We waited to hear no more. I took up our cards and away we went; and my suspicions as to that lady’s rank were thus set at rest. I did not say one word of the matter at Dr. Marshall’s, but I suppose the porter told the lady, as we never saw her afterward, nor her husband at all.

I now began to see my way more clearly, and redoubled my assiduity to decipher the events passing around me. In this I was aided by an increased intimacy with Colonel Macirone, whom closer acquaintance confirmed as an agreeable and gentlemanly man.

I perceived that there was some plot going forward, the nature of which it was beyond my power to develope. The manner of the persons I lived among was perpetually undergoing some shade of variation; the mystery thickened; and my curiosity increased with it.

In the end this curiosity was completely gratified; but all I could determine on at the moment was, that there existed an extensive organised system of deception and treachery, at the bottom of which was Fouché himself: whether, however, my acquaintances would ultimately adhere to the emperor or his minister, seemed quite problematical. I meanwhile dreaded every body, yet affected to fear none, and listened with an air of unconcern to the stories of my valet, Henry Thevenot, though at that time I gave them no credit: subsequent occurrences, however, rendered it manifest that this man procured, somehow or other, sure information.

Among other matters, Thevenot said he knew well there was an intention, if opportunity occurred, of assassinating Napoleon on his road to join the army in Belgium.[44] I did not much relish being made the depositary of such dangerous reports, and ordered my servant never to mention before me again “any such ridiculous stories,” otherwise I should discharge him as an unsafe person. Yet I could not keep his tongue from wagging, and I really dreaded dismissing him. He said “that Fouché was a traitor to his master; that several of the cannon at Montmartre were rendered unserviceable; and that mines had been charged with gunpowder under various parts of the city, preparatory to some attempt at counter-revolution.”

44.  I have often thought that the Mameluke who had always been retained by Napoleon about his person had some very deep reason for his ultimate desertion; and to this moment that circumstance appears to me to leave just grounds for a suspicion that his fidelity had long been shaken.


The peers and deputies summoned for the 8th of June—Abduction of the regalia by the royalists—Author obtains a ticket of admission to the gallery of the Chamber of Deputies, to witness the ceremony—Grenadiers of the Old Guard—Enthusiasm of the military, and comparative quiescence of the other ranks—Entrance of Napoleon into the Chamber—Sketch of his appearance and that of Madame Mère—Administration of the oath of allegiance—The Duke of Otranto and Count Thibaudeau—The imperial speech and its ineffective delivery.

The days rolled on, and in their train brought summer and the month of June, on the 8th of which the peers and deputies of the legislative body were summoned to attend collectively at two o’clock in the Chamber of Deputies, to receive the emperor, and take the oath of fidelity to him and to the constitution, in the midst of all the splendor which the brilliant metropolis of France could supply. The abduction of the regalia by some friends of King Louis, when they ran away to Ghent, had left Napoleon without any crown wherewith to gratify the vanity of a people at all times devoted to every species of spectacle; he had only a button and loop of brilliants which fastened up his Spanish hat, over the sides whereof an immense plumage hung nodding. But this was such a scene, and such an occasion, that a wreath of laurel would have become the brow of Napoleon far better than all the diamonds in the universe!—The whole of the imperial family were to be present.

The number of persons who could be admitted as spectators into the gallery was necessarily very limited: and in a great metropolis where every body is devoted to show, the difficulty of procuring admission would, I conceived, be of course proportionably great. It may be well imagined that I was indefatigable in seeking to obtain tickets, as this spectacle was calculated to throw every thing besides that I had witnessed in Paris completely into the back-ground;—and what tended still more to whet the edge of my curiosity, was the reflection that it would, in all probability, be the last opportunity I should have of deliberately viewing the emperor, whose departure from Paris to join the army was immediately contemplated.

I therefore made interest with every body I knew; I even wrote to the authorities; and, in short, left no means whatever untried which suggested themselves to me. At length, when I began to think my chance but a very poor one, on the day actually preceding the ceremony, to my unspeakable gratification, I received a note from the chamberlain, enclosing an admission for one person debout, which the difficulty I had every where encountered led me to esteem a great favour. I did not think that, at my age, I could possibly be so anxious about any thing; but I believe there are few persons who will not admit that the excitement was great, occasioned by the prospect of contemplating, for a length of time and in a convenient situation, the bodily presence of a man to whom posterity is likely to award greater honours than can be conceded to him by the prejudices of the present race.

The programme announced that all Napoleon’s marshals and generals, together with the veterans of his staff and the male branches of his family, were to be grouped around him; as were likewise several of those statesmen whose talents had helped originally to raise him to the throne, and whose treachery afterwards succeeded in hurling him a second time from it. The peers and deputies, in their several ranks and costumes, were each, individually and distinctly, on that day to swear new allegiance to their emperor, and a lasting obedience to the constitution.

The solemnity of Napoleon’s inauguration, and that of his promulgating the new constitution at the Champ de Mars, made by far the greatest impression on my mind of all the remarkable public or private occurrences I had ever witnessed. The intense interest—the incalculable importance, not only to France but to the world, of those two great events, generated reflections within me more weighty and profound than any I had hitherto entertained: whilst the variety of glittering dresses, the novelty and the ever-changing nature of the objects around me, combined to cheat me almost into a belief that I had migrated to fairy-land, and in fact to prevent me from fixing my regards on any thing.

The first of those days was the more interesting to France—the second to Europe at large. Though totally unparalleled in all their bearings, and dissimilar from every other historical incident ancient or modern, yet these solemnities seem to have been considered by most who have written upon the subject as little more than ordinary historic transactions. Were I to give my feelings full play in reciting their effect on myself, I should at this calmer moment be perhaps set down as a visionary or enthusiast. I shall, therefore, confine myself to simple narrative.

The procession of the emperor from the Tuileries to the Chambers, though short, was to have been of the most imposing character. But, much as I wished to see it, I found that by such an attempt I might lose my place in the gallery of the Chamber, and, consequently, the view of the inauguration scene.—At 11 o’clock, therefore, I brought my family to a house on the Quay, for which I had previously paid dearly; and where having placed them at a window, I repaired myself to the Chamber of Deputies, in company of a French colonel, who had been introduced to us by Colonel Gowen, and who kindly undertook to be my usher, and to point out to me the most celebrated warriors and generals of the guard and army, who in groups promenaded the courts and gardens of the senate-house, awaiting the appointed hour for parading to receive the emperor. This gentleman introduced me to several officers and persons of rank; and though at that moment war, attended by all its horrors, was deemed inevitable, I was addressed with a courtesy and gentlemanly frankness which, under similar circumstances, would in any other country, I fear, have been wanting. They spoke without reserve of the tremendous struggle about to be commenced; but not a man of them appeared to me to have a single doubt of triumphing; and had my own country been neutral or uninterested, I certainly should have preferred the brilliance of Napoleon’s despotism to the contracted, glimmering tyranny of his continental enemies. But I knew that Great Britain was implicated. Napoleon and England might coalesce for a moment; but I felt that the ascendency of the former was considered as incompatible with the power of the latter, and I was chilled by the reflection, which in some degree abated my relish for the striking scene before me.

Among other individuals of note to whom I was presented by the colonel, was Labedoyere, who was destined so soon to atone with the forfeiture of his life for his fidelity to his first patron. I had heard then nothing particular of this man, and consequently took but little notice of him. There was not one whom I remarked more than Ney, then prince of Moskwa. “That,” said the colonel, as he pointed him out to me, “is the greatest sabreur in Europe:” and Ney’s rough, manly, sun-burnt countenance, well set off by his muscular, warlike figure, confirmed the character. “There,” continued my informant, pointing to a civilian in full dress, “is one of the truest partisans the emperor has in France—Count Thibaudeau, though at one time doubted.” I had previously remarked the person to whom my attention was thus directed, as one not formed of common materials, and had occasion soon after to observe him still more particularly.

So many of the objects of that day have been sketched in various publications, that I shall not endeavour to give any thing in the shape of a list of them, but content myself with the mention of those which struck me most forcibly at the moment.

Whoever was in Paris during the Hundred Days must have seen the old guard of Napoleon. Such a body of soldiers (all appearing as if cast in the same mould) I believe never was collected! Their Herculean vigour, more than the height of their persons, was remarkable; and their dark, deep-furrowed visages, (enveloped in mustaches and surmounted by the bear’s skin of their lofty caps, glittering with ornaments,) combined, together with their arms, their clothes, and more particularly their steadiness, to exhibit to me the most perfect model of real soldiers. Their looks, though the very emblem of gravity and determination, were totally devoid of ferocity; and I could fancy the grenadiers of the old guard to be heroes, uniting the qualities of fidelity, of valour, and of generosity: their whole appearance indeed was most attractive.

The cavalry had dismounted, and were sitting around on the steps and parapets of the edifice, mostly employed in sharpening their sabres with small hones; and the whole seemed to me as if actuated only by an ardent wish to proceed to action. One officer asked me in English, rather more freely than the rest, if I knew the British commander (Lord Wellington)? I said I did.—“Well,” replied he, “we shall have a brush with him before quinze jours are over!” and turned away with an expression strongly indicative of contempt. I believe Lord Wellington did not quite anticipate the short time that would be given him by his opponents. My observations and introductions were however at length interrupted by the first cannon, which announced that the emperor had commenced his passage from the Tuileries. All was in immediate bustle; the drums beat, the trumpets sounded, the deputies and officials flocked into their halls, the cuirassiers were mounted, the old guard and grenadiers in line, the officers at their stations;—and in less than five minutes the mingled and motley crowd was arranged in order so regular and so silently assumed, that it was almost impossible to suppose they had ever been in confusion. The different bands struck up: they had received orders respecting the airs that should be played as the emperor approached, which they began to practise; and the whole scene, almost in a moment, wore an aspect entirely new.

The firing of cannon continued: the emperor had advanced along the quays, and passed over that very spot where the last French monarch had, twenty years before, been immolated by his subjects. The word enthusiasm, strong as its meaning is generally held to be in France, failed, on this occasion, to express as much as the military seemed to feel. The citizens who thronged around did not, it is true, appear to partake in this sentiment to any thing like a corresponding extent. Whether it was that they felt it not, or that they were conscious of acting only a subordinate part in the pageant, (which unquestionably bore too much of a military character,) I do not know.

I proceeded without delay to the stairs which led to my loge, as noted on my admission ticket. This loge, however, it turned out to be no easy matter to find. My heart began to sink; I inquired of every body; some did not understand, others looked contemptuously; nobody would pay the least attention to my solicitations. Thus I seemed likely, after all, to lose the benefit of my exertions. Meanwhile, every new discharge of cannon seemed as if announcing, not only the emperor’s approach, but my seclusion from the chamber; and I was getting fast into a state of angry hopelessness when an officer of the guard, who saw that I was a foreigner, addressed me in English. I explained to him my embarrassments and fears, and showed him my ticket. He told me I was on the wrong side, and was so good as to send a soldier with me to the door of the box. I rapped, and was instantly admitted. There were two rows of chairs, and accommodation for three persons to stand behind. I was one of the latter; and it was impossible to be better situated for hearing and seeing every thing. My loge exactly faced the throne; and in the next sat the emperor’s mother, and all the females, with their attendants. I knew nobody: I saw no English there: there was one person in full-dress, who was said to be un chevalier Ecosse, and who having distinguished himself and announced his nation by making an abominable noise about something or other, was very properly sent out. We sat in silent expectation of the emperor’s arrival, which was to be announced by the cessation of the repeated salutes of artillery. The moments were counted: the peers and deputies were seated in their places, all in full-dress—the former occupying the front benches, and the deputies ranged behind them. Servants of the chamber, in the most splendid liveries that can be conceived, were seen busy at all the side doors: the front door was underneath our loge; it was therefore impossible for me to see the effect of the first appearance of the emperor, who at length, followed by a numerous retinue, crossed the chamber—not majestically, but with rather hurried steps: having slightly raised his hat, he seated himself abruptly on the throne, and wrapping himself in his purple cloak, sat silent.

The scene was altogether most interesting; but there was no time for contemplation. The whole assembly immediately rose; and if a judgment might be formed from the outward expression of their feelings, it would be inferred that Napoleon was enthroned in the heart of almost every peer and deputy who that day received him. A loud, continued, and unanimous burst of enthusiastic congratulation proceeded from every quarter: it echoed throughout the whole chamber, and had all the attributes of sincerity. One circumstance I particularly remarked: the old cry of “Vive l’Empereur,” was discontinued, and, as if the spectators’ hearts were too full to utter more, they limited themselves to a single word,—“l’Empereur! l’Empereur!” alone bursting from the whole assembly. I found afterwards that there was a meaning in this: inasmuch as the ceremony was not a mere greeting—it was an inauguration of the emperor. It was this solemnity which in fact recreated his title after his formal abdication, and the assembly thus noted the distinction.

Meanwhile Napoleon sat apparently unmoved: he occasionally touched his hat, but spake not. I stood immediately in front of, and looking down on, the throne; and being in the back row, could use my opera-glass without observation. Napoleon was at that moment, all circumstances considered, the most interesting personage in existence. His dress, although very rich, was scarcely royal: he was not, as a king should be by prescription, covered with jewels: he had no crown, and wore the same dress exactly as he afterward did on his visit to the Champ de Mars; namely, a black Spanish hat, fastened up in front with a diamond loop and button; heavy plumes of ostrich feathers, which hung nodding over his forehead; and rather a short but very full cloak of purple velvet, embroidered with golden bees. The dimensions of his person were thus concealed; but his stature, which had attained about the middle height, seemed lower on account of his square-built form and his high, ungraceful shoulders: he was, in fact, by no means a majestic figure. I watched his eye; it was that of a hawk, and struck me as being peculiarly brilliant. Without moving his head, or a single muscle of his countenance, his eye was every where, and seemed omniscient: an almost imperceptible transition moved it from place to place, as if by magic; and it was fixed steadily upon one object before a spectator could observe its withdrawal from another.

Yet even at this moment, powerful as was the spell in which Napoleon’s presence bound the spectator, my attention was drawn aside by another object which seemed to me to afford much scope for contemplation: this was the emperor’s mother. I stood, as I have already said, in the next loge of the gallery to that occupied by the imperial family. The dutiful and affectionate regard of Napoleon to his mother is universally authenticated: and as his nature was not framed either to form or perpetuate mere attachments of course, it was natural to conclude that this lady’s character had something about it worthy of affection. I was therefore curious to trace, as far as possible, the impressions made upon her by the passing scene.

Madame Mère (as she was then called) was a very fine old lady, apparently about sixty, but looking strong and in good health. She was not, and I believe never had been, a beauty; but was, nevertheless, well-looking, and possessed a cheerful, comfortable countenance. I liked her appearance: it was plain and unassuming, and I set my mind to the task of scrutinising her probable sensations on that important day.

Let us for a moment consider the situation of that mother, who, whilst in an humble sphere of life, and struggling with many difficulties, had born, nursed, and reared a son, who, at an early age, and solely by his own superior talents, became ruler of one of the fairest portions of the civilised creation; to whom kings and princes crouched and submitted, and transferred their territories and their subjects, at his will and pleasure; to whom the whole world, except England, had cringed; whom one great emperor had flattered and fawned on, handing over to him a favourite daughter even whilst the conqueror’s true wife was still living; and whom the same bewildered emperor had afterwards assisted in rousing all Europe to overthrow; thus dethroning his daughter, disinheriting his grandson, and exposing himself to the contempt and derision of the universe,—only that he might have the gratification of enslaving six millions of the Italian people! The mother of Napoleon had seen all this; and had, no doubt, felt bitterly that reverse of fortune whereby her son had been expelled and driven into exile, after his long dream of grandeur and almost resistless influence. What then must be the sensations of that mother at the scene we are describing! when she beheld the same son again hailed emperor of the French, restored to power and to his friends by the universal assent of a great nation, and the firm attachment of victorious armies! He remounted his throne before her eyes once more, and, without the shedding of one drop of blood, was again called to exercise those functions of royalty from which he had been a few months before excluded.

It was under these impressions that I eagerly watched the countenance of that delighted lady: but her features did not appear to me sufficiently marked to give full scope to the indication of her feeling. I could judge, in fact, nothing from any other feature except her eye, to which, when I could catch it, I looked for information. At first I could see only her profile; but as she frequently turned round, her emotions were from time to time obvious: a tear occasionally moistened her cheek, but it evidently proceeded from a happy rather than a painful feeling—it was the tear of parental ecstasy. I could perceive no lofty sensations of gratified ambition; no towering pride; no vain and empty arrogance, as she viewed underneath her the peers and representatives of her son’s dominions. In fact, I could perceive nothing in the deportment of Madame Mère that was not calculated to excite respect for her as a woman, and admiration of her as the person who had brought into the world a man for many years the most successful of his species.

From observation of this interesting lady I was called off by the scene which followed. After the emperor had been awhile seated, (his brothers and the public functionaries around him, as expressed in a printed programme,) the oath was administered to the peers and deputies individually, so that each was distinctly marked by name; and what I considered most fortunate was, that a French gentleman, who sat immediately before me (I believe some public officer), was assiduous in giving the two ladies who accompanied him, not only the name of each peer or deputy, as he took the oath, but also some description of him. I took advantage of this incident, and in a little tablet copied down the names of such as I had heard spoken of as remarkable persons, and particularly the generals and marshals.

Their manner of administering and taking the oath was very different from ours.[45] The French had, from the period of the revolution, very justly conceived that an oath of any description would not be one atom more binding on the party if taken upon a book than if trust were reposed in their mere word of honour. On the present occasion, each person, as his name was called over, arose, and holding out his right arm to its extent, (the palm of the hand uppermost,) deliberately pronounced, “Je jure fidélité à l’Empereur, et obédience à la Constitution.” The reader will easily believe that it was a source of the utmost interest to watch the countenances of these dignitaries of France while they were engaged in performing this important ceremonial. My physiognomical observation was kept fully on the stretch, and was never, before or since, so sated with materials to work on. The emperor, meanwhile, sat almost immovable. He did not appear exhilarated: indeed, on the other hand, I think he was indisposed. His breast heaved at times very perceptibly; an involuntary convulsed motion agitated his lip; but never did I see an eye more indefatigable and penetrating! As each man’s name was called, and the oath administered, its regard was fixed upon the individual; and nothing could be more curious to the spectator than to transfer his gaze alternately from the party taking the oath to the emperor himself. Some of the peers and deputies Napoleon’s eye passed over with scarcely a look; while others he regarded as though disposed to penetrate their very souls, and search there for proofs of a sincerity he considered doubtful. Some seemed to excite a pleasurable, others a painful sensation within him; though this was difficult to recognise, inasmuch as his features seldom, and never more than slightly, changed their expression. The countenances of the members themselves were more easily read, and afforded in many instances good clews whereby, if not the real feelings, at least the tendency of the parties might be deciphered. Some stood boldly up, and loudly, and without hesitation took the oath; while others, in slow, tremulous voices, pledged themselves to what they either never meant, or were not quite certain of their ability to perform; and a few displayed manifest symptoms of repugnance in their manner:—but the scene was of a nature so splendid, so generally interesting, that few persons, except those whose habits had long led them to the study of mankind, or such as might have some especial interest in the result, would have attended to these physiognomical indications, which were of course not suffered in any instance to become prominent.

45.  One of the devices to prevent the accumulation of petty larceny, in the court of Common Pleas of Ireland, was very amusing. Lord Norbury’s register, Mr. Peter Jackson, complained grievously to his lordship that he really could not afford to supply the court with Gospels or Prayer-books, as witnesses, after they had taken their oaths, were in the constant habit of stealing the book! “Peter,” said Lord Norbury, “if the rascals read the book, it will do them more good than the petty larceny may do them mischief.”—“Read or not read,” urged Peter, “they are rogues, that’s plain. I have tied the book fast, but nevertheless they have contrived to loosen and abstract it.”—“Well, well!” replied my lord, “if they are not afraid of the cord, hang your Gospel in chains, and that perhaps, by reminding the fellows of the fate of some of their fathers and grandfathers, may make them behave themselves.” Peter Jackson took the hint: provided a good-looking, well-bound New Testament, which he secured with a strong jack-chain that had evidently done duty, and well, before the kitchen-fire, and was made fast to the rail of the jury gallery. Thus, the holy volume being gibbeted, had free scope to swing about and clink as much as it chose, to the great terror of witnesses, and good order of the jurors themselves.

One of the first persons who took the oath was Fouché, Duke of Otranto. I had been in this nobleman’s office on my first arrival in Paris, had marked his countenance, and have already given my judgment of him. He had originally been a monk, (I believe a Jesuit,) and was on all hands admitted to be a man of the utmost talent, but at the same time without moral principle;—a man who, in order to attain his ends, would disregard justice, and set opinion at insolent defiance. But, above all, Fouché’s reigning character was duplicity: in that qualification of a statesman he had no rival. Napoleon knew him thoroughly; but, circumstanced as he was, he had (fatally for himself) occasion for such men.

Yet even Fouché I really think was, on this day, off his guard. He was at the time, there can be little doubt, in actual communication with some of Napoleon’s enemies; and he certainly appeared, whether or no from “compunctious visitings of conscience,” to be ill at his ease. I kept my eye much on him; and it was quite obvious to me that some powerful train of feeling was working within his breast. On his name being called, there was nothing either bold, frank, or steady in his appearance or demeanour. He held out his hand not much higher than his hip, and, in a tone of voice languid, if not faltering, swore to a fidelity which he was determined, should he find it convenient, to renounce. I really think (and my eye and glass were full upon him) that Fouché, at the moment, felt his own treachery: a slight hectic passed over his temples, and his tongue seemed to cleave to his mouth. I cannot account for my impression further than this, but from that instant I set down the man as a traitor! Napoleon for the first time turned his head as Fouché tendered his allegiance. I could perceive no marked expression in the emperor’s countenance, which remained placid and steady; but I could not help thinking that even that complacent regard (which certainly indicated no confidence, if it was free from agitation) seemed to say, “I know you!” The ceremony proceeded; and after awhile the name was called of a person whom I had before seen—Count Thibaudeau. The contrast between this gentleman and Fouché was very remarkable. He stood up quickly, and with great firmness stepped a little forward, and held his arm higher than his shoulder:—“Je jure,” exclaimed Count Thibaudeau, “Je jure,” repeating the words with emphasis, “fidélité à MON Empereur et obédience à la Constitution!” I watched Napoleon’s look: it was still serene, but a ray of gratification was not absent, and shot rapidly across his features.—The business at length terminated. I treasured up in my mind the impressions made upon it that day, and in very few of my forebodings was I eventually mistaken.

The inauguration of the emperor was now complete, and the reflection was extremely solemn, that all the powers of Europe were armed to overthrow the business of that morning. Neither peace nor truce was to be made with Napoleon, who was, on his part, about to try the strength of France alone against a union of inveterate and inexorable foes. He was now about to inform his assembled legislators of this decision, and to make a declaration that should at once rouse the French people generally, and instil into the legislature a portion of his own energy.

I was all expectation;—the critical moment arrived: the occasion—the place—the subject, and more especially the effect expected to be produced—all combined in leading me to anticipate some speech more impressive than any I had ever heard.

The emperor rose from his throne rather quickly, raised his hat for a moment, and looked round him with a glance which, though probably meant to imply confidence, had to me the expression of scrutiny. Having done this, he re-seated himself, and commenced his speech. In language it was well adapted to the French soldiery; as a proclamation it might be considered admirable; but to a legislative assembly, it seemed to me (perhaps erroneously) ill adapted. I did expect, at all events, that it would be pronounced with that energy which was indicative of the speaker’s character; but miserably was I disappointed! Napoleon read it distinctly, but, to my mind, utterly without effect: there was no adequate ardour—no emphasis—no modulation of voice—no action, to enforce the sentiment. The delivery was monotonous and unimpressive; nor can I yet conceive how it was possible such a man could pronounce such a speech without evincing that warmth of feeling which the words, as well as the great subject itself, (to say nothing of his own situation,) were calculated to inspire. The French in general read extremely ill; and Napoleon’s style of elocution was a very humble specimen even of theirs. He ran the sentences into each other: in short, seemed to view the whole thing as a mere matter of course, and to be anxious to get through it. It put me more in mind of a solicitor reading a marriage-settlement than any thing else. Here and there, indeed, he appeared somewhat touched by the text, and most probably he himself felt it all; but he certainly expressed nothing in a manner that could make others feel it. The concluding words of the speech—“This is the moment to conquer or to perish,” though pronounced by Napoleon with little more energy than the preceding parts, (much as if he had been saying, “And your petitioner will ever pray,”) yet made a strong and visible impression upon the entire auditory. Two or three of the deputies, I observed, by (to all appearance) an involuntary movement, put their hands on their sword-hilts, and whispered those who sat next them; and among the military officers who were in the assembly there was evidently a very gallant feeling. I cast my eye at this moment on Fouché: he was looking upon the ground, seemingly in contemplation, and moved not a muscle.

At the conclusion of his speech Napoleon, whose languid manner had considerably damped my previous excitement, immediately descended from the throne, and, in the same state and amidst redoubled applauses, returned to the palace to make preparations for meeting his parliaments, and carrying into sudden execution what I have since heard denominated by English generals the finest military manœuvre of his whole life. Two things seem to be universally admitted: that the first object of that train of movements, namely the surprise and division of the allied troops, was completely successful; and that its second object—the defeat of those troops in a general engagement, was so near its accomplishment, that its failure may almost be regarded as miraculous.

I returned home full of reflection. I soon recounted all my impressions (particularly with respect to Fouché and Napoleon) to my family and two or three friends who dined with us. I did not hesitate to speak frankly my opinion of the game playing by the Duke of Otranto; nor did any long period elapse before my predictions were verified.


Apathy of the people—Temporary building in front of the Ecole Militaire—Pont de Jena—Policy of Napoleon regarding Fouché—Procession to the Champ de Mars—Peculiar accoutrements of a regiment of cavalry—Reflections on some points in the history of Napoleon—His mistake in changing the republican into a monarchical government—Coaches of ceremony of the French noblesse and officers of state—The Emperor’s liberality to various members of his court—His personal dejection on this day—Rejoicings succeeding the promulgation—Superiority of the French in matters of embellishment—Gratuitous distribution of provisions and wine—Politeness of the lower orders of French—Display of fire-works—Mr. Hobhouse’s Second Reign of Napoleon.

The next great act of Napoleon’s second reign was the promulgation of the new articles of the constitution, at the Champ de Mars, which promised to elicit much of the public sentiment. For my own part, I conceived it would be the true touchstone of Parisian political feeling; but in this idea I was greatly disappointed.

It was natural to suppose that the establishing a constitution, by a nearly despotic monarch, whereby his own power would be greatly contracted, would, even under Napoleon’s circumstances, be considered one of the measures best calculated to propitiate a long-tramelled population. But, in fact, the thing assumed no such character; the spectacle seemed, indeed, to be held in the utmost value by the Parisians; but the constitution itself in little, if any. They had never possessed any regular constitution, and, I really think, had no settled or digested ideas upon the subject: even as yet they are but wandering.

The extraordinary splendour of the preparations for this ceremony, and the admixture of civil and military pomp, were to me very interesting. The temporary buildings thrown up for the occasion might, it is true, be denominated tawdry; yet, strangely enough, there is no other people in the world who can deck out gewgaws with any thing like corresponding taste and effect.

The scene was on an immense scale. In an inconceivably short time, and almost as if by magic, a sort of amphitheatre was constructed in front of the Ecole Militaire, of magnitude sufficient to contain about 15,000 persons. Though only of planks and paper, it seemed of marble and bronze, and glowed with the richest velvets and most sumptuous gilding. In the centre arose an altar similar to those provided, in ancient sacrifices, for the sacred fire to descend on; and at this altar Cardinal Cambaceres presided. A great proportion of the front of the military school was covered with crimson velvet, and the imperial throne was placed on the platform of the first story, facing the altar: around it were seats for the princes. I was not present at the actual ceremony within the great temporary edifice.

I had, on the inauguration, (as already stated,) fully satisfied myself as to the demeanour both of the emperor and the senators; but I had not seen the grand procession which had preceded; and on this occasion, as it was to be much more of a military character, and the emperor’s last public appearance before he joined the army to decide the fate of Europe, I was desirous of witnessing the spectacle, and accordingly engaged a window on the quay for my family, in a house close to the Pont de Jena, over which the whole must pass. We had thence a full view of the Champ de Mars, of the amphitheatre, and of the artificial mount whence the constitution was to be proclaimed by the emperor in person to the people.

Napoleon well knew the great importance of leaving a strong impression on public feeling. His posting from the coast to the Tuileries without interruption was the most extraordinary event in history, ancient or modern: but it was not immediately followed up by any unusual circumstance, or any very splendid spectacle to rouse or gratify Parisian volatility. The retired official life of the emperor after his return (necessarily absorbed in business night and day) had altogether excited little or no stir, and still less expression of public feeling in the metropolis: in fact, the Parisians did not seem to feel so much interest about the state of affairs as they would have done upon the most unimportant occurrences: they made light of every thing except their pleasure, which always was and always will be the god of Paris: and never was any deity more universally and devoutly worshipped! The king’s flight to Ghent was then as little thought of or regarded as if he had gone to St. Cloud; and Napoleon’s arrival made as little stir as Louis’s departure. But the emperor was now about to go to battle; he was well aware of the treachery which surrounded him, and that on his success or discomfiture depended its explosion. He determined, therefore, as he had not time to counteract, to dissemble; and I have no doubt that to this circumstance alone Fouché knew he owed his existence. The month preceding Napoleon’s departure from Paris he became thoroughly acquainted with the intrigues of his minister; and I firmly believe that each was determined on the destruction of the other upon the first feasible opportunity, as the only means of securing himself. I do believe that Fouché would not have survived Bonaparte’s successful return more than four-and-twenty hours, and I equally believe that Fouché had actually meditated, and made some progress in providing for, Napoleon’s assassination. I made up my mind on these points, not from any direct information, but from a process yclept by our great-grandmothers spelling and putting together; and if the reader will be good enough to bear in mind what I have already told him, he will not be at a loss to understand how my suspicions were excited.

In truth, the army alone was sincerely and unanimously attached to the reinstated monarch. By his soldiers Bonaparte was, in every part of his career, almost worshipped. They seemed to regard him rather as a demigod; and nobody could be deceived as to their entire devotion to the divinity which they had set up. But it was not so with the civil ranks of Paris.

I should tire myself and readers were I to describe the almost boyish anxiety which I felt when the firing of the ordnance announced the first movement of the emperor from the Tuileries to the Champ de Mars. I shall leave to the supposition of the reader the impression I received from the passing of the cortége. Let him picture to himself an immense army pouring along the spacious quays of Paris, in battalions and squadrons:—the enthusiasm of the soldiers, the bright cuirasses, the multitude of waving plumes, the magnificence of the marshals and their staff:—these, set off by the glowing sun, combined to implant in the mind of a person unaccustomed to such a sight the idea of almost certain victory.

What struck me most, was the appearance of a splendid, but not numerous regiment, in the costume of Turkish cavalry, mounted upon small barbs and dashingly accoutred: their officers rode, for the most part, piebald horses, many of which were caparisoned with breast armour, and decked with gaudy trappings. The uniform of the men was scarlet, with green cossack trowsers, immense turbans, and high plumes of feathers; the whole ornamented and laced in as splendid and glittering a style as ingenuity could dictate: their stirrups were foot-boards, and they had very crooked sabres and long lances. I believe these men were accoutred en Mamelück, and I mention them the more particularly, because I believe they did not go to Waterloo—at least not in that uniform. In calling to my recollection this superb scene, the hundred bands of martial music seem even at this moment to strike my ear. It seemed as if every instrument in Paris was in requisition! The trumpets and kettle-drums of the gaudy heralds; the deep sackbuts; the crashing cymbals; and the loud gongs of the splendid Mamelukes, bewildered both the ear and the imagination: at first they astonished, then gratified, and at length fatigued me. About the centre of this procession appeared its principal object, who, had he lived in times of less fermentation, would, in my opinion, have been a still greater statesman than he was a warrior. It is indisputable that it was Bonaparte who definitively freed the entire continent of Europe from that democratic mania, of all other tyrannies the most cruel, savage, and unrelenting; and which was still in full, though less rapid progress, when he, by placing the diadem of France on his own brow, restored the principle of monarchy to its vigour, and at one blow overwhelmed the many-headed monster of democratic revolution.

It has been the fashion, in England, to term Napoleon a “Corsican usurper.” We should have recollected Paoli before we reproached him for being a Corsican, and we should have recurred to our own annals and our great King William, who dethroned his father, before we called Napoleon a usurper. He mounted a throne which had long been vacant; the decapitation of Louis, in which he could have had no concern, had completely overwhelmed the dynasty of Bourbon, and Napoleon in a day re-established that monarchical form of government which we had, with so much expense of blood and treasure, been for many years unsuccessfully attempting to restore. I cannot avoid repeating this pointed example of our own inconsistency. We actually made peace and concluded treaties with Napoleon Bonaparte when he was acting as a republican (the very species of government against which we had so long combated); and we refused to listen to his most pacific demonstrations when he became a monarch![46]

46.  Another observation I cannot but make on this subject.—As events have turned out, Napoleon only sat down on the throne of France to keep it for the Bourbons. Had he remained a republican, as when we acknowledged and made peace with him, the names of the whole family of Louis would still have appeared on the pension list of England.

This has I confess been a sad digression: but when I call to mind that last scene of Bonaparte’s splendour, I cannot altogether separate from it the prior portion of his history and that of Europe. I have mentioned that about the centre of the cortége the emperor and his court appeared. It was the custom in France for every person of a certain rank to keep a sort of state-coach gaudily gilded and painted, and, in addition to the footmen, a chasseur to mount behind, dressed en grande toilette, with huge mustaches, immense feathers in his hat, and a large sabre depending from a broad-laced belt, which crossed his shoulder:—he was generally a muscular, fine-looking man, and always indicated rank and affluence in his master. Napoleon liked this state to be preserved by all his ministers, &c. He obliged every man in office to appear at court and in public according to the station he held; and instances were not wanting where the emperor, having discovered that an officer of rank had not pecuniary means to purchase a coach of ceremony, had made him a present of a very fine one. He repeatedly paid the debts of several of his marshals and generals, when he thought their incomes somewhat inadequate; and a case has been mentioned, where a high officer of his household had not money to purchase jewels for his wife, of Napoleon ordering a set to be presented to her with an injunction to wear them at court.

On this day he commanded the twelve mayors of Paris to appear in their carriages of ceremony; and, to do them justice, they were gilt and caparisoned as finely as time and circumstances could admit. Bonaparte himself sat alone, in a state coach with glass all round it: his feathers bowed deeply over his face, and consequently little more than the lower parts of it were quite uncovered. Whoever has marked the countenance of Napoleon must admit it to have been one of the most expressive ever created. I have already spoken of it as affected on distinct occasions; but I beg to be understood as distinguishing it from what is generally called an expressive countenance; namely, one involuntarily and candidly proclaiming the feelings whereby its proprietor is actuated: the smile or the look of scorn, the blush, or the tear, serving not unfrequently to communicate matters which the lips would have kept secret. Though that species of expressive countenance may be commonly admired, it is often inconvenient, and would be perfectly unbefitting a king, a courtier, a gambler, a diplomatist, or, in short, a man in any station of life which renders it incumbent on him to keep his countenance. The lower portion of Bonaparte’s face (as I have mentioned in speaking of my first glance at it) was the finest I think I ever saw, and peculiarly calculated to set the feelings of others on speculation, without giving any decided intimation of his own. On the day of the promulgation, it occurred to me, and to my family likewise, as we saw him pass slowly under our window, that the unparalleled splendour of the scene failed in arousing him from that deep dejection which had apparently seized him ever since his return to Paris, and which doubtless arose from a consciousness of his critical situation, and the hollow ground whereon he trod. There was ill-timed languor in his general look: he smiled not, and took but little notice of any surrounding object. He appeared in fact loaded with some presentiment, confined however to himself; for of all possible events, his approaching and sudden fate was last, I believe, in the contemplation of any person among that prodigious assembly. I apprehend the intelligence of Murat’s defeat in Italy had reached him about that time, and made a great impression on him.

Two marshals rode on each side Napoleon’s coach, and his three brothers occupied the next. I thought they all appeared cheerful; at least, no evil presentiments were visible in their countenances. After the emperor had passed my interest diminished. I was absorbed by reflection, and my mind was painfully diverted to the probable result of the impending contest, which would most likely plunge into a gory and crowded grave thousands of the gay and sparkling warriors who, full of the principle of life and activity, had that moment passed before me.

The crowds in the Champ de Mars; the firing of the artillery; the spirited bustle of the entire scene; and the return of the same cortége after the new articles of the constitution had been proclaimed, left me in a state of absolute languor; and when I returned to my hotel, it required more than a single bottle of Château Margot to restore the serenity of my over-excited nerves.

The rejoicings which followed the promulgation of the constitution were in a style of which I had no previous conception. I have already observed, and every person who has been much on the continent will bear me out in the remark, that no people are so very adroit at embellishment as the French. Our carpenters, paper-hangers, &c. know no more about Parisian embellishments than our plain cooks do of the hundred and twenty-six modes of cooking an egg, whereof every French cuisinier is perfectly master.

Many temporary stands had been erected in the Champs d’Elysée, whence to toss out all species of provisions to the populace. Hams, turkeys, sausages, &c. &c. were to be had in abundance by scrambling for them. Twenty fountains of wine were set playing into the jars, cups, and pails of all who chose to adventure getting near them. A number of temporary theatres were constructed, and games of every description were dispersed throughout the green. Quadrilles and waltzes were practised every where around: all species of music was heard among the trees, together with regular bands in numerous orchestras; singing—juggling—in fine, every thing that could stamp the period of the emperor’s departure on the minds of the people were ordered to be put in requisition; and a scene of enjoyment ensued which, notwithstanding the bustle necessarily attendant, was conducted with the politeness and decorum of a drawing-room; with much more, indeed, than prevails at most of our public assemblies. No pick-pockets were heard of; no disputes of any description arose; the very lowest orders of the French canaille appear on such occasions cleanly dressed, and their very nature renders them polite and courteous to each other. They make way with respect for any woman, even from a duchess to a beggar; and it is a very paradise for old ladies, who are just as politely treated as young ones.

At night, stretching across the whole of the Place Louis Quinze, was a transparent painting of Napoleon’s return from Elba, the mimic ship being of equal dimensions with the real one. Napoleon appeared on the deck, and the entire effect was most impressive.

The rejoicings concluded with a display of fireworks—a species of entertainment wherein I never delighted. It commenced with a flight of five thousand rockets, of various colours, at one coup, and was terminated by the ascent of a balloon loaded with every species of fire-work, in every form and device, and in an abundance I had no conception of; which, bursting high in the air, illuminated by their overpowering momentary blaze the whole atmosphere. At midnight, all, like an “unsubstantial pageant,” had faded away, leaving the ill-starred emperor[47] to pursue his route to partial victory, final defeat,—to ruin, incarceration and death.

47.  I have read with pleasure many parts of “Napoleon’s Second Reign,” by Mr. Hobhouse. Though I do not coincide with that gentleman in all his views of the subject, (differing from him in toto as to some,) I admit the justice of a great portion of his observations, and consider the work, on the whole, as a very clever performance. In several matters of description and anecdote he has anticipated me; and I really think has treated them with as much accuracy, and in a much more comprehensive manner, than I should, or perhaps could have done. Mine in fact is but a sketch—his a history. In some matters of fact he appears to have been imperfectly informed: but they are not errors of a sufficiently important nature to involve any charge of general inaccuracy. I myself kept an ample diary of the events of the Hundred Days, (of so much of them at least as I spent in Paris,) and until the re-entry of Louis; and in fact subsequently, though less regularly. From these documents I have extracted what I now publish; but the whole may perhaps hereafter appear in its original shape.

I cannot but express my regret that Mr. Hobhouse did not remain in Paris until after Napoleon’s return from Belgium, when there was a far wider and fairer field presented for the exercise of his pen. I really conceive it will be a loss to literature if he does not recur to that period (materials cannot be wanting): take up his own work where he finished, and continue it until the evacuation of Paris by the allied forces. The events of that interval are richly worth recording; and it would fill up what is, as yet, nearly a blank in the history of Europe.

One remark in conclusion:—it was really extraordinary to witness the political apathy of the entire population, save the military. Scarce a single expression or indication of party feeling escaped in any direction. All seemed bent on their own pleasures, and on pleasure alone; careless whether the opportunity for its indulgence were afforded them by Napoleon or Louis—by preparations for peace or war—by the establishment of despotism or liberty. They were, I sincerely believe, absolutely weary of politics, and inclined to view any suggestion of that nature with emotions of total indifference. At all times, indeed, the Parisians prefer pleasure to serious speculation. The wisest king of France will ever be that one who contrives to keep his “good citizens” constantly amused; and the most impolitic will be any monarch who curbs their enjoyments. No Parisian will fight if he can dance. I very lately saw a collection of men who were going about in the evening in Rue de Sevres, crying “à bas Villele!” &c. &c., and seeming to be bent on some immediate mischief, stop short to hear an old clarionet player, a long drum, and a barrel organ; and being joined by some ladies of their own class, in ten minutes they were quadrilling with as much politeness as the Almackers.


Rejoicings on Napoleon’s victory over Blucher and surprise of Lord Wellington—Bulletin issued at St. Cloud—Budget of news communicated by a French cockney—Author’s alarm on account of his family—Proposes quitting Paris—Information of Henry Thevenot: confirmed at Lafitte’s—Napoleon’s return from Waterloo—The author’s sources of intelligence—His visits to the Chamber of Deputies—Garat, minister of justice at the period of Louis’s decapitation—The Rousseau Mss. and their peculiar utility to the author—Fouché’s treachery—Vacillating plan to inform Napoleon thereof, through Count Thibaudeau—Observations on the vicissitudes and political extinction of Bonaparte.

The emperor having left Paris to take command of the army in Belgium, the garrison left in that city was necessarily very inconsiderable. It was the universal belief that the allies would be surprised by a simultaneous attack, and the event in some degree warranted this supposition. The result was—a double defeat of Blucher; the separation of the Prussian and British armies; the consequent retreat of Lord Wellington upon Brussels; the march of Grouchy upon that city; and the advance of Napoleon; all this the work of two days only. The impatience of the Parisians for news may be easily conceived; nor were they long kept in suspense. Meanwhile, there ran through the whole mass of society a suspicion that treachery was on foot, but nobody could guess in what shape it would explode. The assassination of Napoleon was certainly supposed to have been then spoken of, and was a thing in contemplation. The disaffection of sundry general officers and others was likewise publicly discussed at the Palais Royal; but no names were mentioned except Fouché’s.

On Sunday, the 18th of June, at day-break, I was roused by the noise of artillery. I arose and instantly sallied out to inquire the cause: nobody could at the moment inform me; but it was soon announced that it was public rejoicings on account of a great victory gained by Napoleon over the Prussians, commanded by Blucher, and the English, by the Duke of Wellington: that the allies had been partly surprised, and were in rapid retreat, followed by the emperor and flanked by Grouchy: that a lancer had arrived as courier, and given many details, one of which was, that our light dragoons, under Lord Anglesey, had been completely destroyed.

I immediately determined to quit Paris for the day. It was Sunday: every body was a-foot; the drums were beating in all directions, and it was impossible to say how the canaille might, in exultation at the victory, be disposed to act by the English in Paris. We therefore set out early, and breakfasted at St. Cloud. The report of the victory had reached that village, but I perceived no indication of any great feeling on the subject. We adjourned to Bagatelle, in the very pretty gardens of which we sauntered about till dinner-time.

This victory did not surprise me; for when I saw the magnificent and to me almost innumerable array of troops on the occasion of the Promulgation, and before, I had adopted the unmilitary idea that they must be invincible. As yet we had heard no certain particulars: about eleven o’clock, however, printed bulletins were liberally distributed, announcing an unexpected attack on the Prussian and English armies with the purpose of dividing them, which purpose was stated to be fully accomplished; the Duke of Brunswick killed; the Prince of Orange wounded; two Scotch regiments broken and sabred; Lord Wellington in full retreat; Blucher’s army absolutely ruined; and the emperor in full march for Brussels, where the Belgian army would join the French, and march unitedly for Berlin. The day was rather drizzling: we took shelter in the grotto, and were there joined by some Parisian shopkeeper and his family, who had come out from the capital for their recreation. This man told us a hundred incidents which were circulated in Paris with relation to the battle. Among other things, it was said, that if the emperor’s generals did their duty, the campaign might be already considered over, since every man in France and Belgium would rise in favour of the emperor. He told us news had arrived, that the Austrians were to be neutral, and that the Russians durst advance no further; that the king of Prussia would be dethroned; and that it was generally believed Lord Wellington would either be dead or in the castle of Vincennes by Wednesday morning! This budget of intelligence our informant communicated himself in a very neutral way, and without betraying the slightest symptom either of gratification or the reverse; and as it was impossible to doubt the main point (the defeat), I really began, from the bulletin, to think all was lost, and that it was high time to consider how we should get out of France forthwith; more particularly as the emperor’s absence from Paris would, by leaving it at the mercy of the populace, render that city no longer a secure residence for the subjects of a hostile kingdom; and, in fact, the marais had already shown great impatience at the restraints of the police, and had got wind of Fouché’s having smuggled a quantity of arms out of Paris, which was a fact: he sent them to Vincennes. How singular was it that, at the very moment I was receiving this news,—at the instant when I conceived Napoleon again the conqueror of the world, and the rapidity of his success as only supplementary to the rapidity of his previous return, and a prelude to fresh achievements, that bloody and decisive conflict was actually at its height, which had been decreed by Providence to terminate Napoleon’s political existence! What an embarrassing problem to the mind of a casuist must a speculation be, as to the probable results, had this day ended differently!

Our minds were now made up to quit Paris on the following Thursday; and, as the securest course, to get down to St. Maloes, and thence to Jersey, or some of the adjacent islands: and without mentioning our intention, I determined to make every preparation connected with the use of the sauf conduit which I had procured on my first arrival in Paris. But Fate decreed it otherwise. Napoleon’s destiny had been meantime decided, and my flight became unnecessary.

On returning to Paris, we found every thing quiet. On that very Sunday night my servant, Henry Thevenot, told me that he had heard the French had got entangled in a forest, and met a repulse. He said he had been told this at a public house in Rue Mont Blanc.

I feared the man: I suspected him to be on the espionnage establishment, and therefore told him to say no more to me about the war, and that I wished much to be in England.

About nine on Wednesday morning, as soon as I rose, Thevenot again informed me, with a countenance which gave no indication of his own sentiments, that the French were totally defeated; that the emperor had returned to Paris; and that the English were in full march to the capital.

I always dreaded lest the language of my servant might in some way implicate me, and I now chid him for telling me so great a falsehood.

“It is true,” returned he.

Still I could not believe it; and I gave him notice, on the spot, to quit my service. He received this intimation with much seeming indifference, and his whole deportment impressed me with suspicion. I went immediately, therefore, to Messrs. Lafitte, my bankers, and the first person I saw was my friend, Mr. Phillips, very busily employed at his desk in the outside room.

“Do you know, Phillips,” said I, “that I have been obliged to turn off my servant for spreading a report that the French are beaten and the emperor returned?”

Phillips, without withdrawing his eyes from what he was engaged on, calmly and concisely replied, “It is true enough.”

“Impossible!” exclaimed I.

“Quite possible,” returned this man of few words, still without looking off his account book.

“Where is Napoleon?” said I.

“In the Palais de Bourbon Elysée,” said he.

I saw it was vain to expect further communication from Mr. Phillips, and I went into an inner chamber to Mr. Clermont, who seemed however more taciturn than the other.

Being most anxious to learn all the facts, I proceeded to the Palais d’Elysée, my scepticism having meanwhile undergone great diminution from seeing an immense number of splendid equipages darting through the streets, filled with full-dressed men, plentifully adorned with stars and orders. When I got to the palace I found the court full of carriages, and a large body of the national guard under arms: yet I could scarcely believe my eyes; but I soon learned the principal fact from a hundred mouths and with a thousand different details:—my informants agreeing only on one point—namely, that the army was defeated by treachery, and that the emperor had returned to Paris in quest of new matériel. Groups and crowds were collecting every where, and confusion reigned triumphant.

Being somewhat rudely driven out of the court-yard, I now went round to the Champs d’Elysée, at the rear of the palace. Sentinels, belonging to Napoleon’s guard, were by this time posted outside the terrace that skirts the garden. They would permit no person to approach close; but I was near enough to discern Napoleon walking deliberately backward and forward, in easy conversation with two persons whom I conceived to be his uncle, Cardinal Fesch, and Count Bertrand; and I afterward heard that I was right. The emperor wore a short blue coat and a small three-cocked hat, and held his hands behind his back, seemingly in a most tranquil mood. Nobody could in fact suppose he was in any agitation whatever, and the cardinal appeared much more earnest in the conversation than himself. I stood there about fifteen minutes, when the sentries ordered us off; and as I obeyed, I saw Napoleon walk up toward the palace.

I never saw the emperor of the French after that day, which was, in fact, the last of his actual reign. It ought to have been the last day of his existence, or the first of some new series of achievements: but Fate had crushed the man, and he could rouse himself no more. Though I think he could count but scantily on the fidelity of the national guards, yet he was in possession of Montmartre, which the old guard had occupied. Paris was quite within his power; and, as the event proved, another and a very powerful army might soon have been gathered about him. Perhaps, too, had Bonaparte rallied in good earnest, he might have succeeded in working even on the very pride of his former subjects to free the soil of the grande nation from foreign invasion. The people of the marais appeared in crowds, quite wild, and I apprehend nearly ungovernable.

Madame Le Jeune, the mistress of the hotel wherein we resided, was sister to General Le Jeune, the painter who executed those noble pieces of the battles of Jena and Austerlitz, which were formerly in the outside room at the gallery of the Tuileries. I am no judge of painting, but I think every thing he did (and his pieces were numerous) possessed great effect. Through him, until the siege terminated by the surrender of Paris, we learned all that was going on among the French; and through Doctor Marshall and Col. Macirone I daily became acquainted with the objects of the English.

After Napoleon had been making faint and fruitless endeavours to induce the deputies to grant him the matériel and aid him in a new armament, their coldness to himself individually became too obvious to be misconstrued: fortune had in fact forsaken Napoleon, and friends too often follow fortune; and it soon became notorious that Fouché had every disposition to seal his master’s destruction. The emperor had, however, still many true and faithful friends—many ardent partisans on whose fidelity he might rely. He had an army which could not be estranged, which no misfortune could divert from him. But his enemies (including the timid and neutral among the deputies) appeared to me decidedly to outnumber those who would have gone far in ensuring his reinstatement. Tranquillity seemed to be the general wish, and the re-equipment of Napoleon would have rendered that unattainable.

Nevertheless, the deputies proceeded calmly on their business, and events every day assumed a more extraordinary appearance. The interval between the emperor’s return from Waterloo and his final abdication—between his departure for Malmaison and the siege of Paris—was of the most interesting and important nature; and so great was my curiosity to be aware of passing events, that I am conscious I went much farther lengths than prudence would have warranted.

During the debates of the deputies after Napoleon’s return, I was almost daily present. I met a gentleman who procured me a free admission, and through whom I became acquainted, by name with most, and personally with many, of the most celebrated characters, not only of the current time, but also those who had flourished during the different stages of the revolution. I was particularly made known to Garat, who had been minister of justice at the time Louis XVI. was beheaded, and had read to him his sentence and conducted him to the scaffold. Although he had not voted for the king’s death, he durst not refuse to execute his official functions; his attendance therefore could not be considered as voluntary. He was at this time one of the deputies. His person would well answer the idea of a small, slight, sharp-looking, lame tailor; but his conversation was acute, rational, and temperate. He regarded Napoleon as lost beyond all redemption; nor did he express any great regret hereat, seeming to be a man of much mental reservation. I suspect he had been too much of a genuine republican, and of too democratic and liberal a policy, ever to have been any great admirer even of the most splendid of monarchs. I think he was sent out of Paris on the king’s restoration.

My friend having introduced me to the librarian of the Chamber of Deputies, I was suffered to sit in the ante-room, or library, whenever I chose, and had consequently a full opportunity of seeing the ingress and egress of the deputies, who frequently formed small groups in the ante-room, and entered into earnest although brief conferences. My ready access to the gallery of the house itself enabled me likewise to know the successive objects of their anxious solicitude.

The librarian was particularly obliging, and suffered me to see and examine many of the most curious old documents. But the original manuscript of Rousseau’s “Confessions,” and of his “Eloisa,” afforded me a real treat. His writing is as legible as print: the “Eloisa,” a work of mere fancy, without one obliteration; while the “Confessions,” which the author put forth as matter of fact, are, oddly enough, full of alterations in every page.

When I wished for an hour of close observation, I used to draw my chair to a window, get Rousseau into my hand, and, while apparently rivetted on his “Confessions,” watch from the corner of my eye the earnest gesticulation and ever-varying countenances of some agitated group of deputies: many of them, as they passed by, cast a glance on the object of my attention, of which I took care that they should always have a complete view.

Observing one day a very unusual degree of excitement amongst the members in the chamber, and perceiving the sally of the groups into the library to be more frequent and earnest than ordinary, I conceived that something very mysterious was in agitation. I mentioned my suspicions to a well-informed friend: he nodded assent, but was too wise or too timorous to give any opinion on so ticklish a subject. I well knew that Napoleon had been betrayed, because I had learned from an authentic source that double dispatches had been actually sent by Fouché to the allies, and that the embassy to the emperor of Russia, from M. Lafitte, &c. had been some hours anticipated and counteracted by the chief commissioner of government.

It was clear to every body that Napoleon had lost his fortitude: in fact, to judge by his conduct, he seemed so feeble and irresolute that he had ceased to be formidable, and it occurred to me that some sudden and strong step was in the contemplation of his true friends to raise his energies once more, and stimulate him to resistance. I was led to think so, particularly, by hearing some of his warmest partisans publicly declare that, if he had not lost all feeling both for himself and France, he should take the alternative of either reigning again or dying in the centre of his still-devoted army.

The next day confirmed my surmises. A letter had been written without signature,[48] addressed to Count Thibaudeau, disclosing to him in detail the treachery of Fouché, &c. and advising the emperor instantly to arrest the traitors, unfold the treason to the chambers, then put himself at the head of his guards, re-assemble the army at Vilette, and, before the allies could unite at Paris, make one effort more to save France from subjugation. This was, I have reason to believe, the purport of the letter; and I also learned the mode and hour determined on to convey it to Count Thibaudeau. It was to be slipped into the letter-box in the ante-room of the chamber, which was used, as I have already mentioned, as a library. I was determined to ascertain the fact; and, seated in one of the windows, turning over the leaves and copying passages out of my favourite manuscript, I could see plainly where the letter-box was placed, and kept it constantly in my eye. The crowd was always considerable; groups were conversing; notes and letters were every moment put into the box for delivery; but I did not see the person who I believed was about to give Count Thibaudeau the information. At length, however, I saw him warily approach the box: he was obviously agitated—so much so indeed, that far from avoiding, his palpable timidity would have excited observation. He had the note in his hand: he looked around him, put his hand toward the box, withdrew it, changed colour, made a second effort—and, his resolution again faltering, walked away without effecting his purpose. I afterward learned that the letter had been destroyed, and that Count Thibaudeau received no intimation till too late.

48.  The writer of that letter, whose real politics I was extremely doubtful of, but which I afterward perceived were unfixed and speculative, lived to become an ultra loyalist. He was a British subject, and a bigot in every thing: his prejudices pro or con were invincible. He died long since the first edition of this book was published.

This was an incident fraught with portentous results: had that note been dropped, as intended, into the box, the fate of Europe might have remained long undecided; Fouché would surely have met his due reward; Bonaparte would have put himself at the head of the army assembling at Vilette—numerous, enthusiastic, and desperate. Neither the Austrian nor Russian armies were within reach of Paris; while that of the French would, I believe, in point of numbers, have exceeded the English and Prussian united force: and it is more than probable, that the most exterminating battle which ever took place between two great armies, would have been fought in the suburbs, perhaps in the boulevards of Paris.

Very different indeed were the consequences of that suppression. The evil genius of Napoleon pressed down the balance; and instead of any chance of remounting his throne, he forfeited both his character and his life; while Fouché, dreading the risk of detection, devised a plan to get the emperor clear out of France, and either end him, or at least put him into the power of the British government, as is detailed in a subsequent chapter.

This last occurrence marked finally the destiny of Napoleon. Fortune had not only forsaken, she had mocked him! She tossed about, and played with, before she destroyed her victim—one moment giving him hopes which only rendered despair more terrible the next. After what I saw of his downfall, no public event, no revolution, can ever excite in my mind one moment of surprise. I have seen, and deeply feel, that we are daily deceived in our views of every thing and every body, public and private.

Bonaparte’s last days of power were certainly full of tremendous vicissitudes:—on one elated by a great victory—on the next overwhelmed by a fatal overthrow. Hurled from a lofty throne into the deepest profundity of misfortune; bereft of his wife and only child; persecuted by his enemies; abandoned by his friends; betrayed by his ministers; humbled, depressed, paralysed;—his proud heart died within him; his great spirit was quenched; and, after a grievous struggle, Despair became his conqueror, and Napoleon Bonaparte degenerated into an ordinary mortal.


Negotiation between the provisional government of Paris and the allies—Col. Macirone’s mission—The author crosses the barrier of the French army, misses the colonel, and is detained on suspicion—Led before Marshal Davoust, Prince d’Eckmuhl and commander-in-chief of the forces at Vilette—The marshal’s haughty demeanour, and the imprecations of the soldiery—A friend in need; or, one good turn deserves another—Remarks of a French officer on the battle of Waterloo—Account of the physical and moral strength and disposition of the army at Vilette—Return of the parlementaires—Awkward mistake of one of the sentries—Liberation of the author—Marshal Davoust’s expressions to the negotiators.

In the month of July, 1815, there was a frequent intercourse of parlementaires between the commissioners of the French government and the allies. Davoust, Prince d’Eckmuhl, commanded the French army assembled at Vilette and about the Canal d’Ourk, a neighbourhood where many thousand Russians had fallen in the battle of the preceding summer. I had the greatest anxiety to see the French army; and Col. Macirone informing me that he was to be sent out with one of Fouché’s despatches to the Duke of Wellington, I felt no apprehension, being duly armed with my sauf-conduit, and thought I might take that opportunity of passing the Barrier de Roule, and strolling about until Macirone’s carriage should come up. It however drove rapidly by me, and I was consequently left in rather an awkward situation, not knowing the localities, and the sentry refusing to suffer me to re-enter.

I did not remain long in suspense, being stopped by two officers, who questioned me in French somewhat tartly as to my presumption in passing the sentries, “who,” said they, “must have mistaken you for one of the commissaries’ attendants.” I produced my passport, which stood me in no further advantage than to ensure a very civil arrest. I was directly taken a long way to the quarters of Marshal Davoust, who was at the time breakfasting on grapes and bread in a very good hotel near the canal. He showed at first a sort of austere indifference that was extremely disagreeable to me: but on my telling him who I was, and every thing relating to the transaction, the manifestation of my candour struck him so forcibly, that he said I was at liberty to walk about, but not to repass the lines till the return of the parlementaires, and further inquiry made about me. I was not altogether at my ease: the prince was now very polite; but I knew nobody, and was undoubtedly a suspicious person. However, I was civilly treated by the officers who met me, and on the contrary received many half-English curses from several soldiers who, I suppose, had been prisoners in England. I was extremely hungry and much fatigued, and kept on the bank of the canal, as completely out of the way of the military as I could.

I was at length accosted in my own language by an elderly officer, tall and distingué in his appearance.

“Sir,” said he, “I think I have seen you in England?”

“I have not the honour to recollect having met you, sir,” replied I.

“I shall not readily forget it,” rejoined the French officer: “do you remember being, about two years since, in the town of Odiham?”

“Very well,” said I.

“You recollect some French officers who were prisoners there? There were two ladies with you.”

These words at once brought the circumstance to my mind, and I answered, “I do now recollect seeing you perfectly.”

“Yes,” said my interlocutor, “I was one of the three officers who were pelted with mud by the garçons in the streets of Odiham; and do you remember striking one of the garçons who followed us, for their conduct?”

“I do not forget it, sir,” said I.

“Come with me then,” pursued he, “and we’ll talk it over in another place.”

The fact had been as he represented. A few French officers, prisoners at Odiham, were sometimes, as they told me, roughly treated by the mob. Passing by chance one day with Lady Barrington and my daughter through the streets of that town, I saw a great number of boys following, hooting and hissing the French officers, and throwing dirt at them. I struck two or three of these idle dogs with my cane, and rapped at the constable’s door, who immediately came out and put them to flight,—interfering, however, rather reluctantly on the part of what he called the “d—d French * * * *.” I expressed and felt great indignation; the officers thanked me warmly, and I believe were all shortly after removed to Oswestry: they were much disliked on that side of London.

My French friend told me that his two comrades at Odiham were killed—the one at Waterloo, and the other by a waggon passing over him at Charleroi, on the 16th of June; and that scarcely an officer who had been prisoner at his dépôt at Oswestry had survived the last campaign. He gave me in his room near Vilette wine, bread, and grapes, with dried sausages well seasoned with garlic, and a glass of eau-de-vie. I was highly pleased at this rencontre. My companion was a most intelligent person, and communicative to the utmost extent of my curiosity. His narrative of many of the events of the battles of the 16th and 18th ult. was most interesting, and carried with it every mark of candour. The minutes rolled away speedily in his company, and seemed to me indeed far too fleeting.

He had not been wounded, though in the heat of both engagements. He attributed the loss of the battle to three causes:—the wanton expenditure of the cavalry; the uncovering of the right wing by Grouchy; and the impetuosity of Napoleon, in ordering the last attack by the old guard, which he should have postponed till next day. He said he had no doubt that the Belgian troops would all have left the field before morning. He had been engaged on the left, and did not see the Prussian attack; but said, that it had the effect of consolidating all the different corps of the French army into a confused mass, which lost the battle.

He told me that Napoleon was forced off the field by the irresistible crowds which the advance of the English cavalry had driven into disorder, while there was not a possibility of rallying a single squadron of their own. His episodes respecting the occurrences of that day were most affecting, and I believe true.

In this agreeable society my spirits mounted again, and I soon acquired courage sufficient to express my great anxiety to see the army, adding, that I durst not go alone. My friend immediately took me under his arm, and walked with me through the whole lines, introducing me to several of his comrades, and acting throughout in the kindest and most gentlemanly manner. This was precisely the opportunity I had so long wished for of viewing the French troops, which were then full of impetuosity and confidence, and eager for battle. Neither the Russians nor Austrians had reached Paris, and it was supposed Davoust would anticipate the attack of the other allies, who only waited for the junction of these powers and their heavy artillery to recommence operations. The scene was so new to me, so impressive, and so important, that it was only on my return home my mind got steady enough to organise its ideas, and permit me to take coherent notes of what I had witnessed.

The battle of Waterloo was understood to have dispersed so entirely the French army,—that powerful and glorious display of heroes and of arms which a very few days previously had passed before my eyes,—that scarcely ten men (except Grouchy’s division) returned in one body to Paris; and those who did return were in such a state of wretchedness and depression, that I took for granted the spirit of the French army had been extinguished—their battalions never to be rallied—their courage thoroughly cooled! I considered that the assembly in the vicinity of Vilette could not be numerous, and was more calculated to make a show for better terms than to resist the conquerors. How great then must have been my astonishment when the evening parades turned out, as the officers informed me, above sixty-five thousand infantry, which, with artillery and cavalry, reached together near 80,000 men. I thought several of the privates had drunk rather too much: but whether sober or not, they seemed to be all in a state of wild, enthusiastic excitement—little removed from insubordination, but directly tending to hostility and battle. Whole companies cried aloud, as the superior officers passed them, “Mon Général—à l’attaque!—l’ennemi! l’ennemi!—allons! allons!” others shouted “Nous sommes trahis! trahison! trahison! à la bataille! à la bataille!” Crowds of them, as if by instinct or for pastime, would rush voluntarily together, and in a moment form a long column, then disperse and execute some other manœuvre; while others, dispersed in groups, sang in loud chorus sundry war songs, wherein les Prusses and les Anglais were the general theme.

I had no conception how it was possible that, in a few days after such a total dispersion of the French army, another could be so rapidly collected, and which, though somewhat less numerous, the officer told me evinced double the enthusiasm of those who had formed the defeated corps. They had now it is true the stimulus of that defeat to urge them desperately on to retrieve that military glory which had been so awfully obscured; their artillery was most abundant; and we must never forget that the French soldier is always better informed, and possessed of more morale than our own. In truth, I really do believe there was scarcely a man in that army at Vilette who would willingly have quitted the field of battle alive, unless victorious.

Though their tumultuous excitement certainly at this time bore the appearance of insubordination, my conductor assured me I was mistaken in forming such a judgment: he admitted that they durst not check that exuberant zeal on the instant; but added, that when the period arrived to form them for battle, not a voice would be heard—not a limb move, till the attack commenced, except by order of their leaders; and that if the traitors in Paris suffered them once more to try their fortune, he did not think there was an individual in that army who entertained a doubt of the result.

In the production of this confidence, party spirit was doubtless mixed up: but no impartial observer could deny, that had the troops at Vilette been heartily joined by the national guards and country volunteers then within the walls of Paris, the consequence would have been at least extremely problematical; and if the marais had been armed with pikes, the whole would have been overwhelming.

The day passed on, and I still strolled about with my polite conductor, whom I begged to remain with me. He was not an officer of high rank: I believe a captain of the eighty-first infantry—very thin and worn, gentlemanly, and had seen long service.

From this crowd of infuriated soldiers, he led me farther to the left, whither a part of the old guard, who had been I believe quartered at Montmartre, had been that evening removed. I had, as the reader will perhaps recollect, a previous opportunity of admiring that unrivalled body of veteran warriors; and their appearance this evening interested me beyond measure. Every man looked like an Ajax, exhibiting a firmness of step and of gesture at once formidable and even graceful. At the same time, I fancied that there was a cast of melancholy over their bronzed countenances. When I compare that corps to the ordinary-looking troops now generally composing the guardians of that once military nation, I can scarcely avoid sighing while I exclaim tempora mutantur! I returned to the barrier with my friend, after a long walk.

I grew at length impatient; evening was closing, and, if detained, I must I suppose have bivouacked. To be sure the weather was so fine that it would have been of no great consequence: still my situation was disagreeable, and the more so, as my family, being quite ignorant of it, must necessarily feel uneasy. I was therefore becoming silent and abstracted, (and my friend had no kind of interest to get me released,) when two carriages appeared driving toward the barrier where we stood. A shot was fired by the advanced sentry at one of them, which immediately stopped. A party was sent out, and the carriage entered: there were two gentlemen in it, one of whom had received the ball, I believe, in his shoulder. A surgeon instantly attended, and they proceeded within the lines. They proved to be two of the parlementaires who had gone out with dispatches. The wound was not mortal; and its infliction arose from a mistaken construction, on the part of the sentinel, of his orders.

The other carriage (in which I conceived was Col. Macirone) drove on without going to the head-quarters of Davoust. My kind companion said he would now go and try to get me dismissed: he did so, and procured an order from the adjutant-general for my departure, on signing my name, address, and occupation, and the name of some person who knew me in Paris. I mentioned Mr. Phillips, of Lafitte’s, and was then suffered to depart. It will be imagined that I was not dilatory in walking home, where, of course, I was received as a lost sheep,—no member of my family having the slightest idea whither I had gone.

The officer, as he accompanied me to the barrier, described to me the interview between the French parlementaires and Davoust. They had, in the morning, it seems, made progress in the negotiation, Very much against the marshal’s inclinations. He was confident of victory, and expressed himself, with great warmth, in the following emphatic words:—“Begone! and tell your employer, Fouché, when you return, that the prince of Eckmuhl will defend Paris till its flames set this handkerchief on fire!”—waving one as he spoke. From what I saw, I do believe he would have kept his word; and I cannot doubt that if the dreadful conflict had taken place, the victory on either side would have cost the conqueror half his army:—situated as they were, and with the spirit both armaments possessed, they never could have parted without an almost exterminating carnage.


Attack on the bridge of Charenton by the Russians—Fouché’s arrangements for the defence of Paris—Bonaparte’s retirement to Malmaison—His want of moral courage—Comparison between Napoleon and Frederick the Great—Extraordinary resolution of the ex-emperor to repair to London—Preparations for his undertaking the journey as secretary to Dr. Marshall—The scheme abandoned from dread of treachery on the road to the coast—Termination of the author’s intercourse with Dr. Marshall, and the cause thereof—Remuneration of Col. Macirone by the arch-traitor Fouché.

It was the received opinion that the allies would form a blockade rather than venture an assault on Paris: their mortars or heavy artillery had not arrived, and the numerical strength and morale of the French army at Vilette the reader has already seen. The English army was within view of, and occupied, St. Denis; the Prussians were on the side of Sevres; and the Russians were expected in the direction of Charenton, along the Marne; while a Brunswick corps at Versailles had been surprised and cut up. That Paris might have been taken by storm is possible, but not more, if they fought; but had the French army been augmented by one half of the national guard, the effort would surely have been most sanguinary, and the result most doubtful. Had the streets been intersected, mines sunk, the bridges broken down, and the populace armed as well as circumstances would permit (the heights being at the same time duly defended), though I am not a military man, and therefore very liable to error on such a subject, I have little doubt the allied forces would have presented but a scanty army before they arrived in the centre of the French metropolis. The defence of Saragossa by Palafox (though but a chieftain of Guerilla) proved the possibility of defending an open town against a valorous enemy. However, this was not the course meditated by Davoust: he wished to attack; and no doubt, considering the humour of the French army at the time, the offensive was the best system.

I was breakfasting in Dr. Marshall’s garden when we heard a heavy firing commence: it proceeded from Charenton, about three miles from Paris, where the Russian advanced-guard had attacked the bridge, which had not been broken up, although it was one of the leading avenues to the Castle of Vincennes. Fouché indeed had contrived to weaken this post effectually, so that the defence there could not be long protracted; and he had also ordered ten thousand stand of arms to be taken secretly out of Paris and lodged in the Castle of Vincennes (to prevent the Parisians from arming) the day before.

The discharges continuing in occasional volleys, like a sort of running fire of platoons, I was most anxious to go to some spot which would command a view of that part of the country; but the doctor dissuaded me, saying it could not be a severe or lengthened struggle, as Fouché had taken care of that matter. I led him gradually into conversation on the business, and he made known to me, though equivocally, much more than I had ever suspected. Every dispatch, every negotiation, every step which it was supposed by such among the French as had their country’s honour and character at heart, might operate to prevent the allies from approaching Paris after the second abdication, had been either accompanied by counter-applications, or defeated by secret instructions from Fouché.

While mock negotiations were carrying on at a distance, and before the English army had reached St. Denis, Bonaparte was already at Malmaison. It had become quite clear that he was a lost man; and this most celebrated of all soldiers on record proved by his conduct, at that crisis, the distinction between animal and mental courage: the first is an instinctive quality, enjoyed by us in common with many of the brute creation; the latter is the attribute of man alone. The first Napoleon eminently possessed; in the latter he was certainly defective. Frederick the Great, in mental courage, was altogether superior to Napoleon. He could fight and fly, and rally and fight again; his spirit never gave in; his perseverance never flagged: he seemed, in fact, insusceptible of despondency, and was even greater in defeat than in victory: he never quitted his army whilst a troop could be rallied; and the seven years’ war proved that the king of Prussia was equally illustrious, whether fugitive or conqueror.

Napoleon reversed those qualities. No warrior that history records was ever so great while successful: his victories were followed up with the rapidity of lightning: in overwhelming an army, he in fact often subdued a kingdom, and profited more by each triumph than any general that had preceded him. But he could not stand up under defeat!—except at Vienna.

Several plans for Napoleon’s escape I heard as they were successively formed: such of them as had an appearance of plausibility Fouché found means to counteract. It would not be amusing to relate the various devices which were suggested for this purpose. Napoleon was meanwhile almost passive and wrapped in apathy. He clung to existence with even a mean tenacity; and it is difficult to imagine but that his intellect must have suffered before he was led to endure a life of ignominious exile.

At Doctor Marshall’s hotel one morning, I remarked his travelling carriage as if put in preparation for a journey, having candles in the lamps, &c. A smith had been examining it, and the servants were all in motion. I suspected some movement of consequence, but could not surmise what. The doctor did not appear to think that I had observed these preparations.

On a sudden, while walking in the garden, I turned short on him.

“Doctor,” said I, at a venture, “you are going on an important journey to-night.”

“How do you know?” said he, thrown off his guard by the abruptness of my remark.

“Well!” continued I, smiling, “I wish you well out of it!”

“Out of what?” exclaimed he, recovering his self-possession, and sounding me in his turn.

“Oh, no matter, no matter,” said I, with a significant nod, as if I was already acquainted with his proceedings.

This bait took in some degree; and after a good deal of fencing, (knowing that he could fully depend on my secrecy,) the doctor led me into his study, where he said he would communicate to me a very interesting and important matter. He then unlocked his desk, and produced an especial passport for himself and his secretary to Havre de Grace, thence to embark for England; and he showed me a very large and also a smaller bag of gold, which he said he was about to take with him.

At length he informed me that it was determined Napoleon should go to England; that he had himself agreed to it; and that he was to travel in Dr. Marshall’s carriage, as his secretary, under the above-mentioned passport. It was arranged that, at twelve o’clock that night, the emperor with the queen of Holland were to be at Marshall’s house (Rue Pigale), and that Napoleon and the doctor were to set off thence immediately; that on arriving in England he was forthwith to repair to London, preceded by a letter to the Prince Regent, stating that he threw himself on the protection and generosity of the British nation, and required permission to reside therein as a private individual during his life.

The thing seemed to me too romantic to be serious; and the doctor could not avoid perceiving my incredulity. He however enjoined me to secrecy, which by the bye was on my own account quite unnecessary; I should have mentioned it only to one member of my family, whom I knew to be to the full as cautious as myself. But I determined to ascertain the fact; and before twelve o’clock at night repaired to the Rue Pigale, and stood up underneath a door somewhat further on the opposite side of the street to Dr. Marshall’s house.

A strong light shone through the curtains of the first floor windows, and lights were also moving about in the upper story. The court meantime was quite dark, and the indications altogether bespoke that something unusual was going forward in the house. Every moment I expected to see Napoleon come to the gate. He came not:—but about half after twelve an elderly officer buttoned up in a blue surtout rode up to the porte cochère, which, on his ringing, was instantly opened. He went in, and after remaining about twenty minutes, came out on horseback as before, and went down the street. I thought he might have been a precursor, and still kept my ground until some time after, when the light in the first floor was extinguished; and thence inferring what subsequently proved to be the real state of the case, I returned homeward disappointed.

Next day Dr. Marshall told me that Napoleon had been dissuaded from venturing to Havre de Grace—he believed by the queen of Holland: some idea had occurred either to him or her that he might not be fairly dealt with on the road. Marshall seemed much hurt. I own the same suspicion had struck me when I first heard of the scheme, and reflected on what I had long before heard from my valet, Henry Thevenot, as already mentioned. I was far from implicating the doctor in any proceeding of a decidedly treacherous nature. I believed, and still believe him to be utterly incapable of countenancing in any way such an action. His disposition always appeared to me gentle and humane. The incident was, however, in all its bearings, an extraordinary one.

My intimacy with Doctor Marshall at length ceased, and in a manner very disagreeable. I liked the man, and I do not wish to hurt his feelings; but certain mysteries respecting his lady, and that alone, terminated our connexion.

A person with whom I was extremely intimate happened to be in my drawing-room one day when Mrs. Marshall called. I observed nothing of a particular character except that Mrs. Marshall went suddenly away; and as I handed her into her carriage, she said, “You promised to dine with us to-morrow, and I requested you to bring any friend you liked: but do not let it be that fellow I have just seen; I have taken a great dislike to his countenance!” No further observation was made, and the lady departed.

On the next morning I received a note from Mrs. Marshall, stating that she had reason to know some malicious person had represented me as being acquainted with certain affairs very material for the government to understand, and as having papers in my possession which might be required from me by the minister Fouché; advising me therefore to leave town for awhile, sooner than be troubled respecting business so disagreeable; and adding that, in the mean time, Colonel Macirone would endeavour to find out the facts, and apprise me of them. This note was curious, and I retain it.

I never was more surprised in my life than at the receipt of this letter. I had never meddled at all in French politics, save to hear and see all I could, and say nothing. I neither held nor had held any political paper whatever, though I knew Doctor Marshall possessed many very important ones; and I therefore immediately went to Sir Charles Stuart, our ambassador, made my complaints, showed him the note, and requested his excellency’s personal interference. To my surprise, Sir Charles in reply asked me how I could chance to know Macirone? I did not feel comfortable at this, and answered, “Because both the English and French governments, and his excellency to boot, (as Col. Macirone had himself informed me,) not only had intercourse with, but had employed Macirone both in Italy and Paris; and that I believed him to be at the very moment in communication with persons of the highest respectability in both countries.”

Sir Charles then wrote a note,—I think it was to Fouché,—informing him who I was, &c. &c.; and I finally discovered it was all a scheme of Mrs. Marshall for a purpose of her own. I know not whether Macirone’s name was mentioned with his knowledge or not. This led me to other investigations; and the result was, that further communication with Dr. Marshall on my part became impossible. I certainly regretted the circumstance, for he was a gentlemanly and intelligent man.

Colonel Macirone himself was soon taught by Fouché what it was to be the attaché of such a traitor. He had the mortification to find, that the only remuneration which the arch-apostate was disposed to concede him, was public disgrace and a dungeon!

Col. Macirone himself often spoke to me of his connexion with Fouché as employé ministériel. One day after dinner, at Doctor Marshall’s, I was so far off my guard as to tell Col. Macirone, in presence of many persons, my opinion of Fouché, and of his (Macirone’s) late connexion with him. I plainly foretold what actually happened soon after, when Fouché signed death or banishment warrants for a crowd of his own friends and instruments.

In about two months I met a person on the boulevard (as I was walking with Lady Barrington, my daughter, and my nephew,) who accosted me as a free acquaintance. I knew him not: he looked dejected; was almost threadbare in his dress; unshaven, and obviously in bad health. He stopped me, and asked me if I had forgotten Macirone? I started: I was very sorry to see him in such a plight, and tendered my services. We had a long conversation that afternoon, and another the succeeding day. I found I had been but too true a prophet; Fouché had seized him in his bed; taken all his papers; and plunged him en secret into a deep dungeon, where he was kept six weeks, and then ordered to quit France forthwith. I have had search lately made as to circumstances leading to and connected with that and similar events: they will make an episode in a subsequent recital concerning that period. As to Macirone, he himself told me he deeply regretted his connexion with Fouché’s policy. He was considered in Paris as a person quite attached to Murat, while he lived.


Afternoon ramble on the Boulevard Italien—Interrupted by the report of artillery—Sang-froid of the fair sex—Female soldiers—The author repairs to a point commanding the field of battle—Site of the projected palace of the king of Rome—Rapidity of the movements of the French as contrasted with those of the Prussians—Blowing up of the bridge of St. Cloud—Visit of the author to the encampment in the Champ de Mars—The wounded soldier.

My anxiety to witness a battle, without being a party in it, did not long remain ungratified. While walking one afternoon on the Boulevard Italien, a very heavy firing of musketry and cannon burst upon my ear. It proceeded from up the course of the Seine, in the direction of Sevres. I knew at once that an engagement was going forward, and my heart bounded at the thought: the sounds appeared to me of all others the most sublime and tremendous. A light breeze bore them to the city. One moment there was a rattling of musketry, which appeared nearer or more distant according to the strength of the air which wafted its volleys; another, the heavy echo of ordnance rolled through the groves and valley of Sevres, and the village of Issy; again, these seemed superseded by a separate firing, as of small bodies of skirmishers; and the whole was mingled with the distant yet audible shouts and hurras of the assailants and assailed. Altogether, my nerves experienced a sensation different from any that had preceded it, and alike distinguished both from bravery and trepidation.

As yet the battle had only reached me by one sense; although imagination, it is true, supplied the place of all. Though my eyes viewed not the field of action, yet the sanguinary conflict moved before my fancy in most vivid colouring.

I was in company with Mr. Lewins when the first firing roused our attention. “A treble line” of ladies were seated in front of Tortoni’s, under the lofty arbours of the Boulevard Italien, enjoying their ices, attended by a host of unmilitary chers-amis, who, together with mendicant songsters and musicians, were dispersed along that line of female attraction, which “occupied” one side of the entire boulevard, and with scarcely any interruption “stretched away” to the Porte St. Martin. Strange to say, scarcely a movement was excited amongst the fair part of the society by the report of the ordnance and musketry; not one beauty rose from her chair, or checked the passage of the refreshing ice to her pouting lips. I could not but be astonished at this apathy, as I supposed, which was only disturbed by the thunder of a tremendous salvo of artillery, announcing that the affair was becoming more general.

Ah! mon Dieu! ma chère!” said one lovely creature to another, as they sat at the entrance of Tortoni’s: “sacre Dieu! qu’est-ce que ce superbe coup-là?”—“C’est le canon, ma chère!” replied her friend: “la bataille est à la pointe de commencer.”—“Ah! oui, oui! c’est bien magnifique! écoutez! écoutez!”—“Ah!” returned the other, tasting with curious deliberation her lemon-ice, “cette glace est très excellente!—mon Dieu! mon Dieu!

Meanwhile the firing continued. I could stand it no longer; I was stung with curiosity, and determined to see the battle. Being at a very little distance from our hotel, I recommended Lady Barrington and my family to retire thither, (which advice they did not take,) and I immediately set off to seek a good position somewhere in the neighbourhood of the fight, which I imagined could not be far distant, as the sounds seemed every moment to increase in strength. It had reached Issy, and seemed approaching. I now perceived a great many gendarmes singly, and in profound silence, strolling about the boulevard, and remarking (though without seeming to notice) every thing and every body.

I had no mode of accounting for the fortitude and indifference of so many females, but by supposing that a great proportion of them might have been themselves campaigning with their husbands or their chers-amis—a circumstance that, I was told, had been by no means uncommon during the wars of the revolution and of Napoleon. But that could not have been the case with at least five hundred who then were seated on the boulevard under the trees.

One lady told me herself, some time after, that she did not dress for ten years in the attire of a female: her husband had acted, I believe, as commissary general. They are both living and well, to the best of my knowledge, at this moment: the lady is particularly clever and intelligent. “Nothing,” said she to me one day, “nothing, sir, can longer appear strange to me. I really think I have witnessed an example of every thing good or evil!” and from the various character of the scenes through which she had passed, I believe her.

A Jew physician living in Rue Richelieu, (a friend of Baron Rothschild,) who had a tolerable telescope, had lent it to me. I first endeavoured to gain admission into the pillar in the Place Vendome, but was refused. I saw that the roof of Nôtre Dame was already crowded, and knew not where to go. I durst not pass a barrier, and I never felt the tortures of curiosity so strongly upon me! At length I got a cabriolet, and desired the man to drive me to any point from whence I might see the battle. He accordingly took me to the farther end of Rue de Bataille, at Chailloit, in the vicinity whereof was the site marked out for the palace of the King of Rome. He seemed to me scarcely to regard any thing about him. (He afterward told me his curious history, which a future volume may contain.) Here was a green plat, with a few half-dead trees; and under one of those I sat down upon the grass and overlooked distinctly the entire left of the engagement and the sanguinary combat which was fought on the slopes, lawn, and about the house and courts of Bellevue.

Whoever has seen the site of that intended palace must recollect that the view it commands is one of the finest imaginable. It had been the hanging gardens of a monastery: the Seine flows at the foot of the slope, and thence the eye wanders to the hill of Bellevue and onward to St. Cloud. The village of Issy, which commences at the foot of Bellevue, stretches itself at some distance thinly up the banks of the Seine toward Paris, nearly to Vaugirard, one of the suburbs—which leaves a border of meadow and garden ground here and there to edge the waters. Extensive, undulating hills rise up high behind the Hotel de Bellevue, and there the first attack had been made upon the Prussians. In front the Pont de Jena opens the entrance to the Champ de Mars, terminated by the magnificent gilt dome of the Ecole Militaire and Hôtel des Invalides, with the city of Paris stretching to the left.

It was then a tranquil evening: the sun, in all his glory, piercing through the smoke which seemed to mount reluctantly from the field of battle, and illuminating its sombre flakes, likened it to a rich gilded canopy moving over the combatants.

The natural ardour of my mind was peculiarly stimulated on this occasion. Never having witnessed before any scene of a corresponding nature, I could not (and indeed sought not to) repress a sensation of awe: I felt my breathing short or protracted as the character of the scene varied. An old soldier would no doubt have laughed at the excess of my emotion—particularly as the affair, although sharp, was not of a very extensive nature. It was said that the Prussians, &c. amounted to thirty thousand. If so, they were on the left, out of my sight. The French certainly were not so numerous. I guessed twenty thousand. There were no English. But there were of Brunswickers, I think, some regiments in scarlet. I at the time took them for English. There was no charge of cavalry, that I saw: but great bodies were in motion on the plain of Grenelle and the road.

One observation was forcibly impressed on me; namely, that both the firing and manœuvring of the French were a great deal more rapid than those of the Prussians. When a change of position was made, the Prussians marched—the French ran: their advance was quicker—their retreat less regular: but their rallying seemed to me most extraordinary: dispersed detachments of the French reassociated with the rapidity of lightning, and advanced again as if they had never separated.

The combats within the hotel of Bellevue and the courts behind were of course concealed: but if I might judge from the constant firing within—the echoes—the loud crash of doors and casements—the sudden rushes from the house—the storming at the entrance, and the battles on the lawn and in the hall,—there must have been great carnage. In my simplicity, I only wondered how any body could escape.

The battle now extended to, and quite filled the village of Issy, which was taken and retaken many times. Neither party could keep possession of it—scouting in and out as fortune wavered; then storming again; then retiring in disorder; and again, in narrow columns, forcing back into the streets. At length, probably from the actual exhaustion of the men, the fire of musketry slackened, but the cannon still rolled at intervals around Sevres. In the wood of Sevres the firing was incessant; and a Prussian shell fell into the celebrated manufactory of that place, while several cannon-shot penetrated the handsome hotel which stands on an eminence above Sevres, and killed fourteen or fifteen Prussian officers, who were in a group taking refreshment.[49]

I now began to feel weary of gazing on the boisterous monotony of the fight, which, so far as any advantage appeared to be gained on either side, might be interminable. A man actually engaged in battle can see but little and think less; but a secure and contemplative spectator has open to him a field of inexhaustible reflection; and my faculties were fast becoming abstracted from the scene of strife, when a loud and uncommon noise announced some singular event, and once more excited me. We could not perceive whence it came; but guessed, and truly, that it proceeded from the demolition of the bridge of St. Cloud, which the French had blown up. A considerable number of French troops now appeared withdrawing from the battle, and passing to our side of the river, many on rafts, far above the bridge, which was just under our feet. We could not tell the cause of this movement, but it was reported by a man who came into the field that the English army at St. Denis was seen in motion, and that some attack on our side of the city itself might be expected. I knew not the fact, and I scarcely believed this: yet the retreat of a part of the French troops tended not to discourage the idea; and as the national guards were heard beating to arms in all directions of the city, I thought it most advisable to return, which I immediately did before the firing had ceased, and in the same cabriolet. Immense bodies of the national guards were collecting in companies; but I believe did not form into any columns.

49.  I visited the spot a few days subsequently, and found that noble hall, which had been totally lined by the finest mirrors, without one remaining. I never saw such useless and wanton devastation as had been committed. I learned that it was the Cossacks who broke all the mirrors, looking for money behind them.

On my return, judge of my astonishment at finding the very same assemblage in the very same place on the boulevard as when I left it; nor did a single being, except my own family, express the slightest curiosity upon hearing whence I had come.

The English army, as it turned out, did not move. The firing, after awhile, totally ceased; and the French cavalry (which I did not see engaged) with some infantry marched into the Champ de Mars, to take up their night’s position.

Having thus been gratified by the view of what to my unaccustomed eyes seemed a great battle, and would, I suppose, by military men be termed nothing more than a long skirmish, I met Sir Francis Gold, who proposed that we should walk to the Champ de Mars, “just,” said he, “to see what the fellows are doing after the battle.”

To this I peremptorily objected, for reasons which must be obvious, and which seemed to prohibit any Englishman in his sober senses from going into such company at such a moment.

“Never mind,” continued Sir Francis, “I love my skin every bit as well as you do yours; and depend upon it we shall not meet the slightest molestation. If we go with a lady in our company, be assured we may walk about and remain in the place as long as we please. I can speak from experience!”

“Ah, true, true, perhaps: but where is the lady?” said I.

“I will introduce you to a very charming one of my acquaintance,” answered Sir Francis, “and I’ll request her to do us the favour of accompanying us.” I now half-reluctantly agreed; curiosity prevailed as usual, and away we went to the lodgings of Sir Francis’s fair friend. I knew Sir Francis could not be in love with danger, though he might with his fair protectress.

The lady certainly did not dishonour the epithet Sir Francis had bestowed on her: she was a young, animated, French girl, rather pretty, interesting, and very well dressed;—one of those lively creatures who, you would say, always have their “wits about them.” My friend explained the request he had come to prefer, and begged her to make her toilet with all convenient expedition. The lady certainly did not dissent, but her acquiescence was followed by a most hearty and seemingly uncontrollable burst of laughter. “Excuse me, gentlemen,” exclaimed she; “but really I cannot help laughing. I will, with pleasure, walk with you; but the idea of my playing the escort to two gallant English chevaliers, both d’âge mûr, is too ridiculous! However, n’importe! I will endeavour to defend you, though against a whole army!”

The thing unquestionably did look absurd, and I could not refrain myself from joining in the laugh. Sir Francis too became infected, and we made a regular chorus of it, after which the gay Frenchwoman resumed:—

“But surely, Sir Francis, you pay the French a great compliment; for you have often told me how you alone used to put to flight whole troops of rebels in your own country, and take entire companies with your single hand!”

Champagne was now introduced, and Sir Francis and I having each taken a glass or two, perhaps more, at the lady’s suggestion, to keep up our courage, we sallied out in search of adventures to the Champ de Mars. The sentinel at the entrance demurred a little on our presenting ourselves; but our fair companion, with admirable presence of mind, put it to his gallantry,—“Can a gallant soldier,” said our fair guardian, “refuse admittance to a lady and her uncles?” The polite soldier, with very good grace, permitted us to enter. As she passed, she held out her hand for him to kiss, which he did most respectfully!

Once fairly inside, we strolled about for above two hours, not only unmolested, but absolutely unnoticed—though I cannot say I felt perfectly at ease. It is certain that the presence of the female protected us. The respect paid to women by the French soldiery is apparent at all their meetings, whether for conviviality or service; and I have seen as much decorum, nay more, preserved in an alehouse festivity at Paris, as at the far-famed Almack’s in London.

The scene within the barrier must have appeared curious to any Englishman. The troops had been about an hour on the ground after fighting all the evening in the village of Issy. I did not see the cavalry actually engage, and their horses were picketed. The soldiers had got, in all directions, tubs of water, and were washing their hands and faces, which had been covered with dirt, their mouths being quite blackened by the cartridges. In a little time every thing was arranged for a merry-making: some took off their coats, to dance the lighter; the bands played; an immense number of women, of all descriptions, had come to welcome them back; and in half an hour after we arrived there, some hundred couples were at the quadrilles and waltzes, as if nothing had occurred to disturb their tranquillity! It appeared, in fact, as if they had not only totally forgotten what had passed that day, but cared not a sou as to what might happen the next.

Numerous old women, with frying-pans strapped before them, with a little charcoal underneath, were incessantly frying sliced potatoes, livers, and bacon together: we tasted some of these dainties, and found them really quite savoury. Some soldiers, who were tired or perhaps slightly hurt, were sitting in the fosses cooking soup, and, together with the venders of bottled beer, &c. stationed on the elevated banks, gave the whole a picturesque appearance. I saw a very few men who had rags tied round their heads; some who limped a little; and others who had their hands in slings: but nobody seemed to regard these, or indeed any thing except their own pleasure. The wounded had been carried to hospitals, and I suppose the dead were left on the ground for the night. The guards mounted at the Champ de Mars were all fresh troops.

In contrast with this scene, I digress to remark that there were few circumstances attending that memorable era which struck me more forcibly than the miserable condition of those groups of fugitives who continued every hour arriving in Paris during the few days immediately succeeding their signal discomfiture at Waterloo. These unfortunate stragglers arrived in parties of two, three, or four, and in a state of utter destitution—most of them without arms, many without shoes, and some almost naked. A great proportion of them were wounded and bandaged: they had scarcely rested at all on their return; in short, I never beheld such pitiable figures.

One of these unfortunate men struck me forcibly one evening as an object of interest and compassion. He was limping along the Boulevard Italien: his destination I knew not; he looked elderly, but had evidently been one of the finest men I ever saw, and attached, I rather think, to the imperial guard. His shoes were worn out; his clothes in rags; scanty hairs were the only covering of his head; one arm was bandaged with a bloody rag, and slung from his neck by a string; his right thigh and leg were also bandaged, and he seemed to move with pain and difficulty, yet proudly.

Figures of a similar description were, it is true, so common during that period, that nobody paid them much attention: this man, however, somehow or other, interested me peculiarly. It was said that he was going to some hospital where he would be taken good care of: but I felt greatly for the old warrior; and crossing the street, put, without saying a word, a dollar into his yellow and trembling hand.

He stopped, looked at me attentively, then at the dollar; and appearing doubtful whether he ought to receive it, said, with an emphatic tone, “Not for charity! pas—pour l’amour de Dieu!

I saw his pride was kindled, and replied, “No, my friend, in respect to your bravery!” and I was walking away, when I heard his voice exclaiming, “Monsieur, Monsieur!” I turned, and, as he hobbled up to me, he surveyed me in silence from head to foot; then, looking earnestly in my face, he held out his hand with the dollar: “Excuse me, Monsieur,” said he, in a firm and rather proud tone,—“you are an Englishman, and I cannot receive bounty from the enemy of my emperor!”

Good God! thought I, what a man must Napoleon have been! This incident alone affords a key to all his victories.


Retirement of the army of Vilette behind the Loire—Occupation of the French capital by the allies—Thoughts on the disposition of the Bourbon government toward Great Britain—Conduct of the allies after their possession of Paris—Infringements of the treaty—Removal of the works of art from the Louvre—Reflections on the injurious result of that measure to the British student—Liberal motive operating on the English administration of that period—Little interludes got up between the French king and the allies—Louis the Eighteenth’s magnanimous letters—Threatened destruction of the Pont de Jena by Marshal Blucher—Heroic resolution of His Most Christian Majesty to perish in the explosion.

The rapid succession of these extraordinary events bore to me the character of some optical delusion, and my mind was settling into a train of reflections on the past and conjectures as to the future, when Fouché surrendered Paris, and gave up France to the discretion of its enemies; at least, on a capitulation, the terms of which were too indefinite to protect the spirit of it. In a few hours after I saw that enthusiastic, nay that half-frantic army of Vilette (in the midst of which I had an opportunity of witnessing a devotion to its chief which no defeat could diminish) on the point of total annihilation. I saw the troops, sad and crestfallen, marching out of Paris to consummate, behind the Loire, the fall of France as a warlike kingdom. With arms still in their hands, with a great park of artillery, and commanded by able generals, yet were they constrained to turn their backs on their metropolis, abandoning it to the “tender mercies” of the Russian Cossacks, whom they had so often conquered.

I saw likewise Fouché, Duke of Otranto (who had with impunity betrayed his patron and his master) betraying, in their turn, his own tools and instruments—signing lists of proscription for the death or exile of those whose ill fortune or worse principle had rendered his dupes; and thus confirming, in my mind, the scepticism as to all public men and measures which had long been growing on me. With all the faults of Napoleon, he never could have merited the superlative ingratitude of those whom he had raised from nothing, and fostered in his bosom, to destroy himself.

The only political point I fancy at present that I can see any certainty in is, that the French nation is not mad enough to engage lightly in a fresh war with England. The highest-flown ultras, even the Jesuits themselves, cannot forget that to the inexhaustible perseverance of the United Kingdom is attributable the present political condition of Europe.—The people of France may not, it is true, owe us much gratitude as to their magnificence or power; but, considering that we transmitted both his present and his late majesty safely from exile here to their exalted station among the potentates of Europe, I do hope, for the honour of our common nature, that the government of that country would not willingly turn the weapons which we put into their hands against ourselves. If they should, however, it is not too much to add, bearing in mind what we have successfully coped with, that their hostility would be as ineffectual as ungrateful. And here I cannot abstain from briefly congratulating my fellow-countrymen on the manly and encouraging exposition of our national power recently put forth by Mr. Canning in the House of Commons. It has been felt by every cabinet in Europe—even to its core. The Holy Alliance has dwindled into insignificance; and Great Britain, under an energetic and liberal-minded administration, re-assumes that influence to which she is justly entitled, as in the first order of European empires.[50]

50.  Since the first edition of this work, most unexpected events have taken place in the state of England and her relative situation with the continent. The admirable policy of Canning has opened the eyes of Europe, and supplanted the despotism of the Holy Alliance by principles of a liberal and enlightened nature. The first practical effect of this has been seen in Greece. The battle of Navarino has done more toward exciting cordiality between the French and English people than any person can suppose, who has not witnessed its extraordinary effects in France, both on the people and the government.

To return:—The conduct of the allies after their occupation of Paris was undoubtedly strange, to say the least of it; and nothing could be more inconsistent than that of the populace on the return of King Louis. That Paris was betrayed is certain; and that the article of capitulation which provided that “wherever doubts existed, the construction should be in favour of the Parisians,” was not adhered to, is equally so. It was never in contemplation, for instance, that the capital was to be rifled of the monuments of art and antiquity, whereof she had become possessed by right of conquest. If such a right exists, it should be respected: if it does not exist, there have not been a more illegal body of depredators in the universe than ourselves. A reclamation of the great mortar in St. James’s Park, or of the throne of the king of Ceylon, would have just as much appearance of fairness as that of Apollo by the Pope, and Venus by the Grand Duke of Tuscany. What preposterous affectation of justice was there in employing British engineers to take down the brazen horses of Alexander the Great, in order that they may be re-erected in St. Mark’s Place at Venice,—a city to which the Austrian emperor has no more equitable a claim than we have to Vienna! I always was, and still remain to be, decidedly of opinion that, by giving our aid in emptying the Louvre, we authorised not only an act of unfairness to the French, but of impolicy as concerned ourselves;—since by so doing, we have removed beyond the reach of the great majority of British artists and students the finest specimens and models of sculpture and of painting this world has produced. Besides, to send a heathen god to the pope might certainly have been dispensed with.

When this step was first determined on the Prussians began with moderation; they rather smuggled away than openly stole, fourteen paintings only; but no sooner was this rifling purpose generally made known, than the legate of his holiness the pope was all anxiety to have his master’s gods again locked up in the dusty store-rooms of the Vatican! The Parisians now took fire. They remonstrated, and protested against this infringement of the treaty; and a portion of the national guards stoutly declared that they would defend the gallery! But the king loved the pope’s toe better than all the works of art ever achieved; and the German autocrat being also a devoted friend of St. Peter’s (while at the same time he lusted after the “brazen images”), the assenting fiat was given, and the plundering proceeded with the utmost voracity. Wishing, however, to throw the stigma from the shoulders of Catholic monarchs upon those of Protestant soldiers, these wily allies determined that, although England was not to share the spoil, she should bear the trouble and discredit; and therefore the national guards in the Louvre were threatened with a regiment of Scotchmen—which threat produced the desired effect.

Now it may be said, that the “right of conquest” is as strong on one side as on the other, and justifies the reclamation as fully as it did the original capture of these chef-d’œuvres:—to which plausible argument I oppose two words—the treaty!—the treaty! Besides, if the right of conquest is to decide, then I fearlessly advance the claim of Great Britain, who was the principal agent in winning the prize at Waterloo, and had therefore surely a right to wear at least some portion of it; but who nevertheless stood by and sanctioned the injustice, although she affected to have too high a moral sense to participate in it. What will my fellow-countrymen say, when they hear that the liberal motive which served to counterbalance, in the minds of the British ministry of that day, the solid advantages resulting from the retention of the works of art at Paris, was, a jealousy of suffering the French capital to remain “the Athens of Europe?”[51]

51.  These words were used to me by Mr. Secretary Cook, at the moment, in Paris. But the truth was, our generals and diplomatists then on the spot knew but little and cared less about the fine arts or belles lettres.

The farce played off between the French king and the allies was considered supremely ridiculous. The Cossacks bivouacked in the square of the Carousel before his majesty’s windows; and soldiers dried their shirts and trowsers on the iron railings of the palace. This was a nuisance; and for the purpose of abating it, three pieces of ordnance duly loaded, with a gunner and ready-lighted match, were stationed day and night upon the quay, and pointed directly at his majesty’s drawing-room; so that one salvo would have despatched the Most Christian King and all his august family to the genuine Champs Elysées. This was carrying the jest rather too far, and every rational man in Paris was shaking his sides at so shallow a manœuvre, when a new object of derision appeared in shape of a letter purporting to be written by King Louis the XVIIIth, expressing his wish that he was young and active enough (who could doubt his wish to grow young again?) to put himself at the head of his own army, attack his puissant allies, and cut them all to pieces for their duplicity to his loving and beloved subjects.

A copy of this alleged letter was given me by a colonel of the national guards, who said that it was circulated by the highest authority. I still retain it.

Lettre du Roi au Prince Talleyrand.

“Du 22 Juillet, 1815.

“La conduite des armées alliées réduira bientôt mon peuple à s’armer contre elles, comme on a fait en Espagne.

“Plus jeune, je me mettrais à sa tête:—mais, si l’âge et mes infirmités m’en empêchent, je ne veux pas, au moins, paroître conniver à des mesures dont je gémis! je suis résolu, si je ne puis les adoucir, à demander asile au roi d’Espagne.

“Que ceux qui, même après la capture de l’homme à qui ils ont déclaré la guerre, continuent à traiter mon peuple en ennemi, et doivent par conséquent me regarder comme tel, attentent s’ils le veulent à ma liberté! ils en sont les maîtres! j’aime mieux vivre dans ma prison que de rester ici, témoin passif des pleurs de mes enfans.”

But,—to close the scene of his majesty’s gallantry, and anxiety to preserve the capitulation entire. After he had permitted the plunder of the Louvre, a report was circulated that Blucher had determined to send all considerations of the treaty to the d—, and with his soldiers to blow up the Pont de Jena, as the existence of a bridge so named was an insult to the victorious Prussians! This was, it must be admitted, sufficiently in character with Blucher: but some people were so fastidious as to assert that it was in fact only a clap-trap on behalf of his Most Christian Majesty; and true it was, that next day copies of a very dignified and gallant letter from Louis XVIII. were circulated extensively throughout Paris. The purport of this royal epistle was not remonstrance: that would have been merely considered as matter of course: it demanded, that Marshal Blucher should inform his majesty of the precise moment the bridge was to be so blown up, as his majesty (having no power of resistance) was determined to go in person—stand upon the bridge at the time of the explosion, and mount into the air amidst the stones and mortar of this beautiful piece of architecture! No doubt it would have been a sublime termination of so sine cura a reign; and would have done more to immortalise the Bourbon dynasty than any thing they seem at present likely to accomplish!

However, Blucher frustrated that gallant achievement, as he did many others; and declared in reply, that he would not singe a hair of his majesty’s head for the pleasure of blowing up a hundred bridges![52]

52.  Nothing could be more hostile than the feelings of the French were, at that period, to the allies;—the Prussians they hated inveterately; the English next in proportion. Their detestation of the Prussians remains still in full vigour, and, indeed, daily increases: their animosity to the English is extinguished. The French clearly see that both interest and pleasure are the result of a friendly intercourse with us, and I think it is cementing fast, and ought to be cultivated by the respective governments. They are a fine people. England and France never should be enemies: there is world enough for both: united, they might command Europe as far as Smolensko; that is the “Rubicon Russe.” The liberal policy of Mr. Canning’s government made an incredible and most rapid impression on the French nation: the old and savage principle that England and France were natural enemies is totally at an end: they may be occasionally political, but not natural adversaries.

I have never seen popular gratification more strong or more general than that of the French on hearing of the battle of Navarino; nor have I ever yet seen a feeling of generous liberality and growing friendship more pure and unequivocal than was evinced by the French military and people at the cordiality with which their fleets and ours mingled in battle. Their having been led to victory by an Englishman, so far from creating jealousy, delighted them.


The Catacombs of Paris—Ineffective nature of the written description of these as compared with the reality—Author’s descent into them—His speedy return—Contrast presented by the cemetery of Père la Chaise—Tomb of Abelard and Heloise—An English capitalist’s notions of sentiment.

The stupendous catacombs of Paris form perhaps the greatest curiosity of that capital. I have seen many well-written descriptions of this magazine of human fragments, yet on actually visiting it, my sensations of awe, and I may add, of disgust, exceeded my anticipation.

I found myself (after descending to a considerable depth from the light of day) among winding vaults, where, ranged on every side, are the trophies of Death’s universal conquest. Myriads of grim, fleshless, grinning visages seem (even through their eyeless sockets) to stare at the passing mortals who have succeeded them, and ready with long knotted fingers to grasp the living into their own society. On turning away from these hideous objects, my sight was arrested by innumerable white scalpless skulls and mouldering limbs of disjointed skeletons—mingled and misplaced in terrific pyramids; or, as if in architectural mockery of nature, framed into mosaics, or piled into walls and barriers with taste fantastic!

There are men of nerve strong enough to endure the contemplation of such things without shrinking. I participate not in this apathetic mood. Almost at the first step which I took between these ghastly ranks in the deep catacomb d’Enfer, (whereinto I had plunged by a descent of ninety steps,) my spirit no longer remained buoyant: it felt subdued and cowed; my feet reluctantly advanced through the gloomy mazes; and at length a universal thrill of horror crawled along the surface of my skin. It would have been to little purpose to protract this struggle, and force my will to obedience: I therefore, instinctively as it were, made a retrograde movement; I ascended into the world again, more rapidly than I had gone downward, and left my less sensitive and wiser friends to explore at leisure those dreary regions. And never did the sun appear to me more bright; never did I feel his rays more cheering and genial, than as I emerged from the melancholy catacombs, to resume the sight of man and the sensations of existence.

The visitor of Paris will find it both curious and interesting to contrast with these another receptacle for the dead—the cemetery of Père la Chaise. It is strange that there should exist among the same people, in the same city, and almost in the same vicinity, two Golgothas, in their nature so utterly dissimilar and repugnant from each other.

The soft and beautiful features of landscape which characterise Père la Chaise are scarcely describable: so harmoniously are they blended together,—so sacred does the spot appear to quiet contemplation and hopeful repose,—that it seems almost profane to attempt description, or to submit its charms in detail before the reader’s eye. All in fact that I had ever read about it fell, as in the case of the catacombs, (“alike, but ah, how different!”) far short of the reality.

I have wandered whole mornings together over its winding paths and venerable avenues. Here are no “ninety steps” of descent to gloom and horror: on the contrary, a gradual ascent leads to the cemetery of Père la Chaise, and to its enchanting summit, on every side shaded by brilliant evergreens. The straight lofty cypress and spreading cedar uplift themselves around; and the arbutus, exposing its deceptive berries, tenders to the walker at once its shade and fragrance. In lieu of the damp mouldering scent exhaled by three millions of human skeletons, we are presented with the perfumes of jasmines and of myrtles—of violet-beds or variegated flower-plats decked out by the ministering hand of love or duty;—as if benignant Nature had spread her most splendid carpet to cover, conceal, and render alluring even the abode of death, and commemorate the noblest passions and the purest sympathies of mortality.

Whichever way we turn, the labours of art combine with the luxuriance of vegetation to raise in the mind new reflections: marble, in all its varieties of shade and grain, is wrought by the hand of man into numerous bewitching shapes; while one of the most brilliant and cheerful cities in the universe seems to lie, with its wooded boulevards, gilded domes, palaces, gardens, and glittering waters, just beneath our feet. One sepulchre, alone, of a decidedly mournful character, attracted my notice—a large and solid mausoleum, buried amidst gloomy yews and low drooping willows; and this looked only like a patch on the face of loveliness. Père la Chaise presents a solitary instance of the abode of the dead ever interesting me agreeably.

I will not remark on the well-known tomb of Abelard and Eloisa: a hundred pens have anticipated me in most of the observations I should be inclined to make respecting that celebrated couple. The most obvious circumstance in their “sad story” always struck me as being—that he turned priest when he was good for nothing else, and she became “quite correct” when opportunities for the reverse began to slacken. They no doubt were properly qualified to make very respectable saints: but since they took care previously to have their fling, I cannot say much for their morality.

I am not sure that a burial-place similar to Père la Chaise would be admired in England: it is almost of too picturesque and sentimental a character. The humbler orders of the English people are too coarse to appreciate the peculiar feeling such a cemetery is calculated to excite; the higher orders too licentious; the trading classes too avaricious. The plum-holder of the city would very honestly and frankly “d—n all your nonsensical sentiment!” I heard one of these gentlemen, last year, declare that what poets and such-like called sentiment, was neither more nor less than deadly poison to the Protestant religion!

Though there is perhaps as much real refinement in London as in Paris, the French certainly mingle more mind with their vices. Those of the Englishman are merely sensual: those of the French seasoned with intellect.—The Englishman’s the result of instinct—the Frenchman’s of excitement: an Englishman is always, a Frenchman never, in earnest.

Père la Chaise would only remind a cockney of suicide: it sets a Parisian gabbling about the meadows of Elysium. A Paris shopkeeper can descant on the heathen mythology: the cockney talks of heaven from his bible and the pulpit; and if the river Styx should be mentioned, he probably considers it scaffolding at London Bridge.

As to the French ladies, they all fancy that they are saturated with refinement. A very spirited and handsome Frenchwoman told me some time since, with as much gravity as she was susceptible of, that she had more refinement than she knew what to do with, and most ardently wished that she could have the honour of transferring the balance to some of my fair countrywomen, who, she understood, considered it a particular dainty.


The author’s efforts to discover the source of his name and family—The Irish herald-at-arms—Reference made by him to the English professor—Heraldic speculation—Ascent of the author’s pedigree to the reign of William the Conqueror—Consultation with the Norman herald suggested—Author’s visit to Rouen—Anecdotes of French convents—Madame Cousin and her system—Traits of toleration—M. Helliot, the celebrated ancien avocat of Rouen—Practice of legal bigamy in Normandy—A breakfast party—Death of M. Helliot—Interview with an old herald, formerly of the noblesse—His person and costume described—Discovery of the town and castle of Barentin—Occurrences there—The old beggar-man—Visit to Jersey, where Drogo de Barentin was killed in defending the castle of Mont Orgueil—Return to Barentin, and singular incident at Ivetot—Conclusion.

My visit to France enabled me, besides gratifying myself by the sight and observation of the distinguished characters of whom I have in the Sketches immediately foregoing made mention, to pursue an inquiry that I had set on foot some time previously in my own country.

As I have already informed the reader in the commencement of this work, I was brought up among a sort of democratic aristocracy, which, like the race of wolf-dogs, seems to be extinct in Ireland. The gentry of those days took the greatest care to trace, and to preserve by tradition, the pedigree of their families and the exploits of their ancestors.

It is said that “he must be a wise man who knows his own father;” but if there are thirty or forty of one’s forefathers to make out, it must necessarily be a research rather difficult for ordinary capacities. Such are therefore in the habit of resorting to a person who obtains his livelihood by begetting grandfathers and great-grandfathers ad infinitum!—namely, the herald, who, without much tedious research, can, in these commercial days, furnish any private gentleman, dealer, or chapman, with as beautifully transcribed, painted, and gilt a pedigree as he chooses to be at the expense of purchasing—with arms, crests, and mottoes to match: nor are there among the nobility themselves emblazonments more gaudy than may occasionally be seen upon the tilbury of some retired tailor, whose name was probably selected at random by the nurse of a foundling hospital.

But as there is, I believe, no great mob of persons bearing my name in existence, and as it is pretty well known to be rather old, I fancied I would pay a visit to our Irish herald-at-arms, to find out, if possible to a certainty, from what country I originally sprang. After having consulted every thing he had to consult, this worthy functionary only brought me back to Queen Elizabeth, which was doing nothing, as it was that virgin monarch who had made the first territorial grant to my family in Ireland, with liberty to return two members to every future parliament, which they actually did down to my father.

The Irish herald assured me that he could not honestly carry me one inch farther back on the male line, and so (having painted a most beautiful pedigree) he recommended me to the English herald-at-arms, who, he had no doubt, could take the thread at the top, and unravel it to my satisfaction.

I accordingly took the first opportunity of consulting this fresh oracle in London, whose minister having politely heard my case, transferred it to writing, screwed up his lips, and looked steadfastly at the ceiling for some five minutes: he then began to reckon centuries on his fingers; but there being only eight of them, he applied to his thumbs; took down several large books full of emblazonments, nodded his head, and at last, cleverly and scientifically taking me up from the times of Queen Elizabeth, where I had been abruptly dropped by my fellow-countryman, delivered me, in less than a fortnight, as handsome a genealogical tree as could be reasonably desired: on this I triumphantly ascended to the reign of William the Conqueror, and the battle of Hastings, at which some of my ancestors were, it appears, fairly sped, and provided with neat lodgings in Battle Abbey, where, for aught I know to the contrary, they still remain.

The English herald-at-arms also informed me (but rather mysteriously) that it was probable I had a right to put a French De at the beginning of my name, as there was a Norman ton at the end of it; but that, as he did not profess French heraldry, I had better inquire further from some of the craft in Normandy, where that science had at the period of the crusades greatly flourished—William the Conqueror, at the time he was denominated the Bastard, having by all accounts established a very celebrated heraldic college at Rouen.

I was much pleased with his candour, and thus the matter rested until Louis XVIII. returned home with his family, when, as the reader is aware, I likewise passed over to France with mine.

I did not forget the hint given me by my armorial friend in London; and in order to benefit by it, repaired, as soon as circumstances permitted, to Rouen, in which town we had been advised to place our two youngest daughters, for purposes of education, at a celebrated Ursuline convent, the abbess whereof was considered a more tolerating religieuse than any of her contemporaries. Before I proceed to detail the sequel of my heraldic investigations I will lay before the reader one or two anecdotes connected with French nunneries.

The abbess of the convent in question, Madame Cousin, was a fine, handsome, fat old nun, as affable and insinuating as possible, and gained on us at first sight. She enlarged on the great advantages of her system; and showed us long galleries of beautiful little bed-chambers, together with gardens overlooking the boulevards, and adorned by that interesting tower wherein Jeanne d’Arc was so long confined previous to her being humanely burned alive as a witch by our Duke of Bedford, who attended the execution! The window he overlooked her tortures from is still preserved in the square at Rouen. Her table, Madame Cousin assured us, was excellent and abundant.

I was naturally impressed with an idea that a nun feared God at any rate too much to tell twenty direct falsehoods, and practise twenty deceptions in the course of half an hour, for the lucre of fifty Napoleons,—which she required in advance, without the least intention of giving the value of five for them: and, under this impression, I paid the sum demanded, gave up our two children to Madame Cousin’s motherly tutelage, and returned to the Hôtel de France, almost in love with the old abbess.

On our return to Paris we received letters from my daughters, giving a most flattering account of the convent generally, of the excellence of Madame l’Abbesse, the plenty of good food, the comfort of the bed-rooms, and the extraordinary progress they were making in their several acquirements. I was hence induced to commence the second half-year, also in advance, when a son-in-law of mine, calling to see my daughters, requested the eldest to dine with him at his hotel, which request was long resisted by the abbess, and only granted at length with manifest reluctance. Arrived at the hotel, the poor girl related a tale of a very different description from the foregoing, and as piteous as unexpected. Her letters had been dictated to her by a priest, the brother of the abbess. I had scarcely arrived at Paris when my children were separated, turned away from the show bed-rooms, and allowed to speak any language to each other only one hour a day, and not a word on Sundays. The eldest was urged to turn Catholic; and, above all, they were fed in a manner at once so scanty and so bad, that my daughter begged hard not to be taken back, but to accompany her brother-in-law to Paris. This he conceded; and when the poor child arrived, I saw the necessity of immediately recalling her sister. I was indeed shocked at seeing her,—so wan and thin, and greedy did she appear.

On our first inquiry for the convent above alluded to, we had been directed by mistake to another establishment belonging to the saint of the same name, but bearing a very inferior appearance, and superintended by an abbess whose toleration certainly erred not on the side of laxity. We saw the old lady within her grated lattice. She would not come out to us; but, on being told our business, smiled as cheerfully as fanaticism would let her. (I dare say the expected pension already jingled in her glowing fancy.) Our terms were soon concluded, and every thing was arranged, when Lady Barrington, as a final direction, requested that the children should not be called too early in the morning, as they were unused to it. The old abbess started: a gloomy doubt seemed to gather on her furrowed temples; her nostrils distended; and she abruptly asked, “N’êtes-vous pas Catholiques?

Non,” replied Lady Barrington, “nous sommes Protestans.”

The countenance of the abbess now utterly fell, and she shrieked out, “Mon Dieu! alors, vous êtes hérétiques! Je ne permets jamais d’hérétique dans ce convent!—allez!—allez!—vos enfans n’entreront jamais dans le couvent des Ursulines!—allez!—allez!” and instantly crossing herself, vehemently counting her beads, and muttering Latin like a schoolmaster, she withdrew from the grate.

Just as we were turned out, we encountered, near the gate, a very odd though respectable-looking figure. It was that of a man whose stature must originally have exceeded six feet, and who was yet erect, and, but for the natural shrinking of age, retained his full height and manly presence: his limbs still bore him gallantly, and the frosts of more than eighty winters had not yet chilled his warmth of manner. His dress was neither neat nor shabby: it was of silk—of the old costume: his thin hair was loosely tied behind; and, on the whole, he appeared to be what we call above the world.

This gentleman saw that we were at a loss about something; and with the constitutional politeness of a Frenchman of the old school, at once begged us to mention our embarrassment and command his services. Every body, he told us, knew him, and he knew every body at Rouen. We accepted his offer, and he immediately constituted himself cicisbeo to the ladies and Mentor to me. After having led us to the other Convent des Ursulines, of which I have spoken, he dined with us, and I conceived a great respect for the old gentleman. It was Monsieur Helliot, once a celebrated avocat of the parliament at Rouen: his good manners and good-nature rendered his society a real treat to us; while his memory, information, and activity were almost wonderful. He was an improvisore poet, and could converse in rhyme, and sing a hundred songs of his own composing.

On my informing M. Helliot that one of my principal objects at Rouen was a research in heraldry, he said he would next day introduce me to the person of all others most likely to satisfy me on that point. His friend was, he told me, of noble family, and had originally studied heraldry for his amusement, but was subsequently necessitated to practise it for pocket-money, since his regular income was barely sufficient (as was then the average with the old nobility of Normandy) to provide him soup in plenty, a room and a bed-recess, a weekly laundress, and a repairing tailor. “Rouen,” continued the old advocate, “requires no heralds now! The nobles are not even able to emblazon their pedigrees, and the manufacturers purchase arms and crests from the Paris heralds, who have always a variety of magnificent ones to dispose of suitable to their new customers.”

M. Helliot had an apartment at Rouen, and also a country-house about four miles from that city, near the Commandery, which is on the Seine;—a beautiful wild spot, formerly the property of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. Helliot’s house had a large garden ornamented by his own hands. He one day came to us to beg we would fix a morning for taking a déjeûner à la fourchette at his cottage, and brought with him a long bill of fare (containing nearly every thing in the eating and drinking way that could be procured at Rouen), whereon he requested we would mark with a pencil our favourite dishes! He said this was always their ancient mode when they had the honour of a société distingué; and we were obliged to humour him. He was delighted; and then, assuming a more serious air,—“But,” said he, “I have a very particular reason for inviting you to my cottage: it is to have the honour of introducing you to a lady who, old as I am, has consented to marry me the ensuing spring. I know,” added he, “that I shall be happier in her society than in that of any other person; and, at my time of life, we want somebody interested in rendering our limited existence as comfortable as possible.”

This seemed ludicrous enough, and the ladies’ curiosity was excited to see old Helliot’s sweetheart. We were accordingly punctual to our hour. He had a boat ready to take us across the Seine near the Commandery, and we soon entered a beautiful garden in a high state of order. In the house (a small and very old one) we found a most excellent repast. The only company besides ourselves was the old herald to whom M. Helliot had introduced me; and, after a few minutes, he led from an inner chamber his intended bride. She appeared, in point of years, at least as venerable as the bridegroom; but a droop in the person and a waddle in the gait bespoke a constitution much more enfeebled than that of the gallant who was to lead her to the altar. “This,” said the advocate, as he presented her to the company, “is Madame * * *:—but n’importe! after our repast you shall learn her name and history. Pray, madame,” pursued he, with an air of infinite politeness, “have the goodness to do the honours of the table;” and his request was complied with as nimbly as his inamorata’s shrivelled and quivering hands would permit.

The wine went round merrily: the old lady declined not her glass; the herald took enough to serve him for the two or three following days; old Helliot hobnobbed à la mode Anglaise; and in half an hour we were as cheerful, and, I should think, as curious a breakfast party as Upper Normandy had ever produced.

When the repast was ended, “Now,” said our host, “you shall learn the history of this venerable bride that is to be on or about the 15th of April next. You know,” continued he, “that between the age of seventy and death the distance is seldom very great, and that a person of your nation who arrives at the one is generally fool enough to be always gazing at the other. Now we Frenchmen like, if possible, to evade the prospect; and with that object we contrive some new event, which, if it cannot conceal, may at least take off our attention from it; and, of all things in the world, I believe matrimony will be admitted to be most effectual either in fixing an epoch or directing a current of thought. We antiquated gentry here, therefore, have a little law, or rather custom of our own—namely, that after a man has been in a state of matrimony for fifty years, if his charmer survives, they undergo the ceremony of a second marriage, and so begin a new contract for another half-century, if their joint lives so long continue! and inasmuch as Madame Helliot (introducing the old lady anew, kissing her cheek, and chucking her under the chin) has been now forty-nine years and four months on her road to a second husband, the day that fifty years are completed we shall re-commence our honey-moon, and every friend we have will, I hope, come and see the happy re-union”—“Ah!” said madame, “I fear my bride’s-maid, Madame Veuve Gerard, can’t hold out so long!—Mais, Dieu merci!” cried she, “I think I shall myself, monsieur, (addressing me) be well enough to get through the ceremony!”

I wish I could end this little episode as my heart would dictate. But, alas! a cold caught by my friend the advocate boating on the Seine, before the happy month arrived prevented a ceremony which I would have gone almost any distance to witness. The old gentleman spent three or four days with me every week during several months that I continued at Rouen.—Sic transit gloria mundi!

But to my heraldic investigation. The old professor with whom M. Helliot had made me acquainted had been one of the ancienne noblesse, and carried in his look and deportment evident marks of the rank from which he had been compelled to descend. Although younger than the advocate, he was somewhat stricken in years. His hair, thin and highly powdered, afforded a queue longer than a quill, and nearly as bulky. A tight plaited stock and solitaire, a tucker and ruffles, and a cross with the order of St. Louis;—a well-cleaned black suit, (which had survived many a cuff and cape, and seen many a year of full-dress service,) silk stockings, paste knee and large silver shoe-buckles, completed his toilet.

He said, on my first visit, in a desponding voice, that he deeply regretted the republicans had burned most of his books and records during the Revolution; and having consequently little or nothing left of remote times to refer to, he really could not recollect my ancestors, though they might perhaps have been a very superbe famille. On exhibiting, however, my English and Irish pedigrees, (drawn out on vellum, beautifully ornamented, painted and gilt, with the chevalier’s casquet, three scarlet chevanels and a Saracen’s head,) and touching his withered hand with the metallic tractors, the old herald’s eyes assumed almost a youthful fire; even his voice seemed to change; and having put the four dollars into his breeches’-pocket, buttoned the flap, and then felt at the outside to make sure of their safety, he drew himself up with pride:—

“Between this city and Havre-de-Grace,” said he, after a longer pause, and having traced with his bony fingers the best gilded of the pedigrees, “lies a town called Barentin, and there once stood the superb château of an old warrior, Drogo de Barentin. At this town, monsieur, you will assuredly obtain some account of your noble family.” After some conversation about William the Conqueror, Duke Rollo, Richard Cœur de Lion, &c. I took my leave, determining to start with all convenient speed toward Havre-de-Grace.

On the road to that place I found the town designated by the herald, and having refreshed myself at an auberge, set out to discover the ruins of the castle, which lie not very far distant. Of these, however, I could make nothing; and, on returning to the auberge, I found mine host decked out in his best jacket and a huge opera-hat. Having made this worthy acquainted with the object of my researches, he told me, with a smiling countenance, that there was a very old beggar-man extant in the place, who was the depositary of all the circumstances of its ancient history, including that of the former lords of the castle. Seeing I had no chance of better information, I ordered my dinner to be prepared in the first instance, and the mendicant to be served up with the dessert.

The figure which presented itself really struck me. His age was said to exceed a hundred years: his beard and hair were white, and scanty, while the ruddiness of youth still mantled in his cheeks. I don’t know how it was, but my heart and purse opened in unison, and I gratified the old beggar-man with a sum which, I believe, he had not often seen before at one time. I then directed a glass of eau-de-vie to be given him, and this he relished even more than the money. He then launched into such an eulogium on the noble race of Drogo of the castle, that I thought he never would come to the point; and when he did, I received but little satisfaction from his communications, which he concluded by advising me to make a voyage to the island of Jersey. “I knew,” said he, “in my youth, a man much older than I am now, and who, like me, lived upon the good people. This man was the final descendant of the Barentins, being the last lord’s bastard, and he has often told me, that on that island his father had been murdered, who having made no will, his son was left to beg, while the king got all, and bestowed it on some young lady. They called him here Young Drogo down to the day of his death! They did indeed:—they did!—heigh ho!”

This whetted my appetite for further intelligence, and I resolved, having fairly engaged in it, to follow up the inquiry. Accordingly, in the spring of 1816, leaving my family in Paris, I set out for St. Maloes, thence to Granville, and, after a most interesting journey through Brittany, crossed over in a fishing-boat, and soon found myself in the square of St. Hilliers, at Jersey. I had been there before on a visit to General Don, with General Moore and Colonel le Blanc, and knew the place: but this time I went incog.

On my first visit to Jersey I had been much struck with the fine situation and commanding aspect of the magnificent castle of Mont Orgueil, and had much pleasure in anticipating a fresh survey of it. But guess the gratified nature of my emotions, when I learnt from an old warder of the castle that Drogo de Barentin, a Norman chieftain, had been its last governor!—that his name was on some of its records, and that he had lost his life in its defence on the outer ramparts! He left no offspring that could be traced, and thus the Norman’s family had become extinct. The old man said that he had left children by a Saxon woman in England; but that the Normans would surely have destroyed them had they come to Barentin.

This I considered as making good progress; and I returned cheerfully to Barentin, to thank my mendicant and his patron the aubergiste, intending to prosecute the inquiry further at Rouen. I will not hazard fatiguing the reader by detailing the result of any more of my investigations; but it is curious enough that at Ivetot, about four leagues from Barentin,—to an ancient château near which place I had been directed by mine host, and where there was to be an auction of old trumpery, the ancient furniture of the château, I met, among a parcel of scattered articles collected for that sale, the portrait of an old Norman warrior, which exactly resembled those of my great-grandfather, Colonel Barrington of Cullenaghmore. But for the difference of scanty black hair in one case, and a large white wig in the other, the heads and countenances would have been quite undistinguishable! I marked this picture with my initials, and left a request with the innkeeper at Ivetot to purchase it for me at any price; but having unluckily forgotten to leave him money likewise, to pay for it, the man, as it afterward appeared, thought no more of the matter. So great was my disappointment, that I advertised for this portrait—but in vain.

I will now bid the reader farewell,—at least for the present.




Illustrated by Delineations of the principal Characters connected with those Transactions, curious Letters and Papers in fac-simile; and numerous Original Portraits engraved by the elder Heath.

Unforeseen circumstances, over which the Author had no influence or control, had altogether checked the progress of this Work, suspended the publication of its latter parts, and left them on the Publisher’s shelves unadvertised and uncirculated.

This temporary relinquishment had given rise to unfounded and injurious reports of its suppression; an object which never was for one moment in the contemplation of the Author, nor sought for, or even suggested, by the Government of England.

On the contrary—the lamentable and unimproving march of Ireland from the period of the Union having fully proved the deceptious prospective given to that fatal measure by its mistaken or corrupt supporters, and exciting a novel interest and grave reflections of vital importance to the British Empire, the Author had determined to seize upon the first available opportunity of fulfilling his engagement to the friends and patrons of the Work, by its completion.

Those friends were not confined to one party. They were mingled in all—they comprised several of the highest orders of society—many who held, and some who still hold, important stations in the Government of both countries:—and the commencing parts of this Work having been honoured by the approbation and encouragement of His late Majesty and other Members of His Royal House, it was with deep regret the Author found himself, from a succession of causes, for several years unable to fulfil his intentions, and gratify his own laudable ambition, by compiling into a compact Memoir the most important Historic Events of Ireland. In many of those he was himself a not unimportant actor. He possessed also the advantage of individual intimacy or acquaintance with the most celebrated personages of all parties; without which, and the fidelity of a contemporary and independent pen, the delineation of their characters and the record of their conduct, if not lost for ever, would have descended to posterity with imperfect details and an ambiguous authenticity,—or have left a wide chasm in a highly interesting epocha of British History.

The fallacious measure of a Legislative Union,—the progress of which from commencement to consummation the Author energetically resisted—has proved, by its inoperative or mischievous results, the justness of that resistance. And he now, in common with many of the most distinguished of its original supporters, deeply deplores its accomplishment. But established by lapse of time—confirmed by passive assent—and complicated with some beneficial, and many political and financial arrangements, its tranquil reversal seems to have passed feasibility. Yet—as an hereditary friend to British connexion—the Author hopes, by the revival and completion of this History, to open wide the eyes of Great Britain to the present dangers of Ireland—to draw aside the curtain of ignorance and prejudice by which her history has been so long obscured—to compare her once rising prosperity with her existing miseries—to discover the occult causes of their continuance and the false principles of her misrule—to display her sacrifices for England—and to unmask her libellers in both countries.

Developments such as these may rouse the Legislature to probe her wounds to their depth—to employ her labour—to succour—to foster—and to rule her on the broad principles of a steady and philanthropic policy—and to relinquish for ever that system of coercive Government, which an experience of many centuries has proved to be destructive of almost every thing—except her crimes and her population.

The British people should also learn that the absence of the ancient Nobles and protecting Aristocracy of Ireland,—drawn away by the Union from their demesnes and their tenantry to the Seat of Legislation, and replaced only by the griping hands and arbitrary sway of upstart deputies,—increases in proportion with the miseries and turbulence of the lower orders; and that the luxuriance of vegetation which clothes that capable Island, has, through the same causes, become only a harbinger of want, or the forbidden fruit of a famished peasantry.

It should therefore be the object of every pen and of every tongue, to render the Union as innoxious as its paralysing nature can now admit of; to recall the proprietors of the Irish soil to a sense of their own security and their country’s welfare; and thereby strengthen the ties which should bind the two nations together, in equality, prosperity, and affection—on the firmness and durability of which species of connexion depends, not only the constitutional security of England herself, but perhaps the political existence of both countries.

Such is the Author’s view in the completion of this Work. The obstacles to its progress are surmounted, and its publication is now in the hands of those who will spare nothing to render it worthy of its object, and ensure a lasting and beneficial record to the United Empire.

It is fortunate for Ireland, and disastrous to her calumniators, that a recent and great event has at once exposed the misrepresentations of her enemies, and displayed a great source of her misfortunes. The visit of a conciliating King to a distracted people rapidly disclosed their native character, and produced a burst of unfeigned, unanimous, genuine loyalty, never before experienced in such profusion by any Monarch from his subjects. The equivocating language of diplomacy was rejected for a while. The King was a Patriot, and the People were loyal. For the first time they were allowed to approach each other. Both were sincere—and both were ardent. In a few days, the King became despotic in the affections of the Nation, and his Ministers descended into a comparative insignificance. When he arrived, he was respected as a British King—but when he departed, he was adored as an Irish Monarch. He saw at once that the existence of faction and discord was incompatible with the peace and prosperity of Ireland; and that she hung on Great Britain, as a withering limb upon a healthful body—essential to its symmetry, but useless to its functions, and injurious to its Constitution.

There was but one remedy—conciliation. His Majesty saw its efficacy and commanded its adoption.—But his commands were disobeyed by the Regal Rebels[53]—and Ireland is still seen withering and cankering—by the obstinacy of intolerant faction, the irritation of local tyranny, and the multiplying mischiefs resulting from disobedience to the benevolent and wise commands of the only British King who ever yet set foot on the Irish shore as a friend and as a patriot.

53.  Mr. Grattan’s definition of men, “Who make their loyalism a pretence to perpetuate their supremacy,—and distract the peace of a country under colour of protecting it.”

The above work will shortly be completed in ten numbers, royal 4to, price 10s. 6d. each, and published by Messrs. Colburn and Bentley, New Burlington Street, London; Bell and Bradfute, Edinburgh; and John Cumming, Dublin: and subscribers are particularly requested to send their orders to their respective booksellers for the completion of their sets.


Transcriber’s note:

Title page, ‘TWO’ changed to ‘THREE,’ “IN THREE VOLUMES.”

Page viii, ‘—’ inserted after ‘comedy,’ “Modern comedy—The French stage”

Page 4, ‘wont’ changed to ‘won’t,’ “I won’t humour you”

Instances of ‘N. B.’ on pages 16, 22, and 23 have been normalised to “N.B.”

Page 34, ‘guaging’ changed to ‘gauging,’ “determined on gauging Frank,”

Page 56, ‘scull’ changed to ‘skull,’ “both had iron skull-caps”

Page 78, ‘her’s’ changed to ‘hers,’ “caught his eye, closed her’s again”

Page 79, ‘years’ changed to ‘years’,’ “After two years’ struggle”

Page 81, ‘Madona’ changed to ‘Madonna,’ “sat for a Madonna”

Page 94, second ‘I’ struck, “as I think”

Page 95, ‘Madona’ changed to ‘Madonna,’ “sat for a Madonna. Nature”

Page 112, ‘accessary’ changed to ‘accessory,’ “as accessory to a crime”

Page 126, ‘“’ before ‘If’ struck, “If you begin to reason”

Page 128, ‘peice’ changed to ‘piece,’ “compose any piece of music”

Page 157, ‘“’ before ‘Wild’ struck, ““The Wild Irish Girl””

Page 197, ‘fusees’ changed to ‘fuses,’ “by longer or shorter fuses”

Page 231, full stop inserted after ‘Jordan,’ “Dora Jordan.”

Page 233, ‘Jordan’ capitalised, “Dora Jordan.”

Page 278, ‘pefect’ changed to ‘perfect,’ “with my perfect composure”

Page 340, ‘a’ changed to ‘à,’ “fidélité à MON Empereur”

Page 396, ‘ministériéle’ changed to ‘ministériel,’ “employé ministériel”