« AnteriorContinuar »
At breakfast hour next day Mr. Delany re-presented himself, with two barnacles and five teals, which—we mean the latter-he had killed, at a single shot, upon a spot of bog-water. His success announced that he could use the implement entrusted to him well, and consequently we felt thankful that he had operated on barnacles and not ourself.
We called him after breakfast to the presence. He reported that the arrival of divers wild-fowl was immense ; and after some desultory conversation, announced that he was going to a distillery, up the mountain, for barm for the cook. At the door he made a stop, fumbled with his hat, and said he had a small request to make.
“ Out with it at once," I said, hastily ; for I had got deep into a report in The Times of Weare's murder. *
“ Ye want a handy lad about ye ; had'nt ye better take myself ?" “ You? wbat-harbour a deserter ?" "Well, if I did desert, it was'nt for any thing I'm ashamed to own.”
“Well, what virtuous act obtained for Ballycroy the honour of a visit ?”
“ Nothing," said the fellow, with a smile, “but climbing the barrack. wall after night, to pay a visit to my sweetheart.”
“A very grave military offence ; but one that will be pardoned in the kitchen. Be off ; bring the barm, and we'll talk over your proposal.”
That night, Mr. Delany had a crib assigned to him, and was placed, pro tem., upon our establishment.
On referring to the Hue and Cry, I found that my new retainer had levanted from a regiment that was commanded by an intimate friend, who, but the very post before, had apprized me that he would pay me a farewell visit the next week ; an official notification having been received from the Horse Guards, stating that they were first on the roaster for service in the East Indies. I inquired into Delany's private history, and had reason to believe that his escapade over the wall was his sole offending ; and, as
" Love will be the lord of all,” why should he, poor devil, be an exception? We kept our own counsel, and meditated an agreeable surprise, which we successfully effected. Delany's father had been a gamekeeper—and a better shot than the son never laid a walnut stock to his shoulder. He cleaned a gun beautifully; and the charge of our armoury was transferred immediately to him. Delany was doubly useful. The larder was overstocked with wild-fowl ; and, in the event of a nocturnal visitation from the oppressed patriots, who had been forced by Saxon cruelty to seek a shelter in Ballycroy, we felt assured we had a stout and true supporter. Let every man have his due : our butler, who some nights before had nearly murdered our cook and housemaid through sheer fright, was the greatest coward in existence. He recoiled from a gun like a hurt wild duck ; and to fire-arms, loaded or unloaded, from childhood had a fixed aversion. Delany, then, as the country stood, was a valuable addition to our household ; and certainly I slept all the sounder, in knowing I had an ally, in case of need, on whom I could faithfully depend. The expected visit from Colonel - was kept profoundly secret,
* By Thurtle, October, 1823,
Delany, who went daily to the moors, seldom returned until nightfall ; and hours before that my military guest had arrived.
A land barnaclemind the distinction-a land one—when hung up for ten days, is amongst the best of the wild fowl tribe that come to table. The day on which my military guest arrived, we had one in excellent condition. Mrs. Downey roasted it to perfection, and loud were the Colonel's commendations of the same. I had improved Mr. Delany's outer man, by the donation of a shooting outfit ; and he was directed by the butler, on his return home, to hold himself in readiness for a summons.
" What a splendid bird that was—mild as a woodcock," said the Colonel ; " we get them in Galway, but we can't eat them.”
“ You get the sea barnacle, Colonel, which means a collection of fish, covered with skin and feathers. This is a horse of another colour-distinct as a snipe from a sea gull.”
“ Do you shoot these yourself ?”
“ No, I operate by deputy. The moors are so confoundedly wet, that I hold doubts that a water-dog would not risk sciatica in crossing them. I have a fellow here ; he shoots inimitably, and is thoroughly bog-proof ; but, may God forgive him! he has a fancy, I fear, for soldiering.”
** What is he like?” exclaimed the Colonel, eagerly.
“As smart a light-bob as ever sported a green tuft on the left flank of a battalion."
“ Lord !" said the commander, “ do you think I could get hold of him? We are short of our number, and want six-and-twenty.”
« Well, to be candid, I would not like to recommend him," I replied. “ Why?” said the commander. “ He is so well set-up, that I half suspect he's a deserter. The Colonel looked things unutterable. “We are going to India, you know, and — "
“ You can smuggle him abroad. Well, see the fellow yourself. Ah! Colonel, I know how the old gentleman can have you ; bait the hook with a flanker.”
I rang the bell, and ordered the barnacle-shooter to be summoned.
I have often seen the stage effect produced by unexpected introductions ; but nothing could be more laughable than the surprise of the Colonel, whose military eye detected the lost sheep in a glance, while Mr. Delany as instantly discovered his commander.
“Colonel,” I said, “ he is my prisoner, and has voluntarily surrendered. Forgive a first offence. I admit its gross extent, and I will be security for future good conduct.”
The commander, as they call it, hemmed and hawed ; but in ten minutes the deserter had his pardon ratified, rejoined the regiment, redeemed my promise to the letter ; and a better or braver soldier than I was the means of restoring to the service never wore a wing. Two years afterwards the Colonel told me he had got a corporal's stripes ; and, in another two, that he had been promoted and made a colour sergeant. Ten other years passed over, and the barnacle-shooter of Ballycroy died, Quarter Master of the th!
SPORTING INCIDENTS AT HOME AND ABROAD.
(From the MS. Life of the Hon. Percy Hamilton.) COMMUNICATED TO AND EDITED BY LORD WILLIAM LENNOX.
" And the very next night at the Adelphi he was seen.”
FROM THE M.S. SONG OF THE “ Dog's Meat Man."
The Westminster Play_The Strand Adelphi n. The Adelphi of Terence-Absent without leave-A treacherous friend-Barclay, of Ure-Modern and ancient pedestrians.
The next event that was to come off at Westminster was the annual performance of one of Terene's plays., The theatre, which was fitted up in the dormitory of the King's Scholars, possessed scenery which had been presented to the school by William Markham, Archbishop of York, and which had been prepared under the direction of Garrick. In the days we write of, the dresses of the actors were calculated to throw an air of ridicule upon the performances ; for instead of the present classical costumes, which, thanks to the exertions of the poet and dramatist Talfourd, have lately been introduced, the characters appeared in modern attire, the old men wearing the powdered bag-wigs and court dresses of the reign of George II. ; the young men strutting about the streets of Athens in the gear of Bond-street loungers of five-and-thirty years ago ; the servants adopting their finery from the representatives of My Lord Duke in “ High Life below Stairs," or Trip in the “ School for Scandal;" the old ladies equipped in brocades, starched collars,” high-heeled shoes, and grizzled perukes ; and the younger ones flaunting about in silks, satins, lace, and auburn locks, evidently copied from the latest number of “ La Belle Assemblée” or “ Polite Repository” of that day. No sogner were the days fixed for the first, second, and third representations, than every boy in the school set his wits to work to procure tickets for his friends. Kirkonnel and myself were fortunate enough to get the promise of two for the last performance, which was considered the best ; and we lost no time in writing to our dramatic patrons, Frank Alderson and Billy Sanders, to invite them upon this occasion. The reply of the former on behalf of his friend and himself was to the following effect :
" All fortyne to the good Packharnessites." "You must needs dine with me." "! As soon as dinner's o'er we'll forth" " to Westminster." “ We will hear that play," " Meanwhile we thank you for your well-took labour."
"He that thou knowest thine,"
Fránk ALDERSON. I pass over the two first performances, which may be looked upon as dress-rehearsals, and which neither my chums nor myself attended ; for, taking advantage of the freedom given us from five o'clock until the termination of the play, we greatly preferred the Adelphi Theatre, or, as it was then called, the Sans-Pareil, under the able management of the " guardian naiad of the Strand," Miss Seott, to Terence's Adelphi, in Little Dean's Yard, Westminster. No sooner had the doors of our boarding house been thrown open, than despite of the injunetions we had received for the last fortnight from the respective college amateurs to applaud their exertions, we ran off to a pastry-cook's shop in Bridge-street, to take a hasty meal. In less time than I can take to narrate it, Kirkonnel, two fourth-form boys, and myself were seated in the refreshment-room with four bowls of thick, clammy peasoup before us ; this was followed by a dish of eel pies made of a heavy indigestible sort of a paste, which enveloped some very diminutive specimens of the slippery tribe. Hot veal and ham patties, lumps of fat and tough meat, now smoked on the board, which were removed by stale bath-buns, vapid calf 's-foot jelly, tasteless stewed pears, and greasy cheese-cakes. Cherry-brandy, so called, was our beverage ; but, probably out of consideration to our weak heads, the worthy purveyor had watered it so much, that it was perfectly spiritless. After devouring and swallowing the above condiments and buvables at a railway speed, we hired a hackney coach, and ordered the coachman to drive us to the SansPareil, In the mean time Kirkonnel had jumped on the box, and had persuaded the driver to let him take the reins. "By all manner of means,” replied the delighted Jarvey as he pocketed the half-crown that had been presented him. “Come, get on,” we exclaimed from the inside; “ we shall be late." The only answer we received was, “Ge-ho ; go along,"given in a gin-drinking sort of a voice, and accompanied with an obligato con spirito of lash and whip-cord, but still we remained stationary. “ Hit him over the shoulder--I've established a raw there,” continued the gruff speaker. Kirkonnel refused to follow the above inhuman advice, but plied the thong in a less cruel manner ; still the steeds refused to "muy on." After a few seconds the insides became clamorous, and the outsides having changed places with one another, and the coachman having regained the ribands, he with a jerk, a peculiar sort of a “Gar along," and a slight application of the whip, got the high-bred cattle into a brisk trot, and, being stimulated by the promise of a shilling beyond his fare, safely and quickly set us down at the doors of the Sans Pareil. Great was our delight to find, on entering the pit, that the overture had not commenced. The first piece was one of deep interest, founded upon the old nursery story of “Mary, the Maid of the Inn ;' this was followed by a comic ballet, during the most bustling part of which we were reminded that it was past nine o'clock, and that we had no time to lose in getting to the college play before its termination. Taking the short cuts between the Strand and the river, and coming out behind Whitehall church, we soon made way to Dean's-yard, reaching the gallery steps of the temporary theatre in time to hear the “plaudite valete” given to the admiring audience. Following the injunctions of this last appeal, we clapped our hands, stamped our feet, and cried "bravo” until we were hoarse. This having been duly reported to the captain, upon the following morning we received his thanks, as well as those of his brother amateurs, for the support we had given them. As our consciences in those days were most tender and inseared, need I say how truly ashamed we felt at this unmerited praise ?
To resume. My friends and myself passed the second Westmin. ster play much in the same manner that we had done the first ; the last was now shortly to take place, and we lost no time in devising the best scheme for obtaining leave not only to dine with Alderson, but also to attend a most attractive performance at Covent Garden Theatre, in which real horses were to make their first appearance upon these hitherto classical boards. A cabinet council was now called, and after mature deliberation we decided that the best plan to adopt would be to get Billy Sanders (who was up to every manœuvre) to write in my uncle's, Lord
, name to ask permission for Kirkonnel and myself to dine and sleep out on the night previous to the play, to dine with him early on the evening of the Westminster play, so as not to interfere with school hours on that morning, and to be in time for the Latin performance. No sooner had we communicated our wishes to the hoaxing lawyer than he forthwith penned a note to Dr. Dodd, which he took the precaution of sealing with a coronet, borrowed for the occasion, and which he himself left at Mrs. Packharness' in the character of my uncle's butler. “ I'll wait for an answer," said Sanders, aping the manners of a nobleman's gentleman. “We've no party at home to-day, so I'll just stroll through the Abbey, and return in a quarter of an hour.” Consummate puppy! thought our man-of-all-work, Dick, as he invited the mock-butler into the housekeeper's room. “No, I prefer the open air ; we had a late supper last night, and my head aches confoundedly,” responded the hoaxer, still keeping up his assumed character. While Sanders lounged in the cloisters the invitation was carried to our tutor, who at once gave an answer in the affirmative. This was handed over to Kirkonnel, who stood at the door anxiously waiting for it, and who promised to deliver it safely to my uncle's butler. To avoid suspicion, I kept out of the way ; and it was not until the delivery of the then twopenny post the next morning that I received from Sanders a most polite note written by Dr. Dodd, and directed to my uncle, saying that, as upon the whole both Kirkonnel and myself had conducted ourselves very well during the last half year, he had great pleasure in granting us the indulgence asked for. This smote our consciences to the very quick, and we felt more disposed to confess our error, and throw ourselves upon the mercy of our kindhearted yet deluded tutor, than to take advantage of his misplaced confidence, Unhappily, however, pleasure triumphed over principle, and the thoughts of the Covent Garden stud and Alderson's dinner so far got the better of our first impulse, that we yielded to the tempter, and with empty sophistry stifled the “ still small voice" of conscience. The evening arrived, when, under the pretence of going to my uncle's, Kirkonnel and myself entered a hackney-coach, and desired the driver to set us down at Ginger's Hotel, Bridge-street, Westminster. Here we ordered a beefsteak at five o'clock, and beds, and, having devoted considerable time to our toilet, made our appearance in the coffee-room. Our meal was shortly afterwards served, and, as our funds were rather low, we found to our dismay that the landlord had added some fish to our dinner, independent of tarts, custards, and jellies for the second course. “ What wine will you please to take, gentlemen ?” asked the waiter. “ Some port,” we replied, and were about to mutter forth that a pint would be sufficient, when, before we could utter the word, a