BOB BURKE’S DUEL WITH ENSIGN BRADY.

BY THE LATE WILLIAM MAGINN, LL.D.

[MAGA. May 1834.]


CHAPTER I.

HOW BOB WAS IN LOVE WITH MISS THEODOSIA MACNAMARA.

When the 48th were quartered in Mallow, I was there on a visit to one of the Purcells, who abound in that part of the world, and, being some sixteen or seventeen years younger than I am now, thought I might as well fall in love with Miss Theodosia Macnamara. She was a fine grown girl, full of flesh and blood, rose five foot nine at least when shod, had many excellent points, and stepped out slappingly upon her pasterns. She was somewhat of a roarer, it must be admitted, for you could hear her from one end of the Walk to the other; and I am told, that as she has grown somewhat aged, she shows symptoms of vice, but I knew nothing of the latter, and did not mind the former, because I never had a fancy for your mimini-pimini young ladies, with their mouths squeezed into the shape and dimensions of a needle’s eye. I always suspect such damsels as having a very portentous design against mankind in general.

“She was at Mallow for the sake of the Spa, it being understood that she was consumptive—though I’ll answer for it, her lungs were not touched; and I never saw any signs of consumption about her, except at meal times, when her consumption was undoubtedly great. However, her mother, a very nice middle-aged woman—she was of the O’Regans of the West, and a perfect lady in her manners, with a very remarkable red nose, which she attributed to a cold which had settled in that part, and which cold she was always endeavouring to cure with various balsamic preparations taken inwardly,—maintained that her poor chicken, as she called her, was very delicate, and required the air and water of Mallow to cure her. Theodosia (she was so named after some of the Limerick family), or, as we generally called her, Dosy, was rather of a sanguine complexion, with hair that might be styled auburn, but which usually received another name. Her nose was turned up, as they say was that of Cleopatra; and her mouth, which was never idle, being always employed in eating, drinking, shouting, or laughing, was of considerable dimensions. Her eyes were piercers, with a slight tendency to a cast; and her complexion was equal to a footman’s plush breeches, or the first tinge of the bloom of morning bursting through a summer-cloud, or what else verse-making men are fond of saying. I remember a young man who was in love with her writing a song about her, in which there was one or other of the similes above mentioned, I forget which. The verses were said to be very clever, as no doubt they were; but I do not recollect them, never being able to remember poetry. Dosy’s mother used to say that it was a hectic flush—if so, it was a very permanent flush, for it never left her cheeks for a moment, and had it not belonged to a young lady in a galloping consumption, would have done honour to a dairymaid.

“Pardon these details, gentlemen,” said Bob Burke, sighing, “but one always thinks of the first loves. Tom Moore says that ‘there’s nothing half so sweet in life as young love’s dram;’ and talking of that, if there’s anything left in the brandy-bottle, hand it over to me. Here’s to the days gone by; they will never come again. Dear Dosy, you and I had some fun together. I see her now with her red hair escaping from under her hat, in a pea-green habit, a stiff-cutting whip in her hand, licking it into Tom the Devil, a black horse, that would have carried a sixteen stoner over a six-foot wall, following Will Wrixon’s hounds at the rate of fifteen miles an hour, and singing out, ‘Go it, my trumps.’ These are the recollections that bring tears in a man’s eyes.”

There were none visible in Bob’s, but as he here finished his dram, it is perhaps a convenient opportunity for concluding a chapter.

CHAPTER II.

HOW ENSIGN BRADY WENT TO DRINK TEA WITH MISS
THEODOSIA MACNAMARA.

“The day of that hunt was the very day that led to my duel with Brady. He was a long, straddling, waddle-mouthed chap, who had no more notion of riding a hunt than a rhinoceros. He was mounted on a showy-enough-looking mare, which had been nerved by Bodolphus Bootiman, the horse-doctor, and though ‘a good ’un to look at, was a rum ’un to go;’ and before she was nerved, all the work had been taken out of her by long Lanty Philpot, who sold her to Brady after dinner for fifty pounds, she being not worth twenty in her best day, and Brady giving his bill at three months for the fifty. My friend the ensign was no judge of a horse, and the event showed that my cousin Lanty was no judge of a bill—not a cross of the fifty having been paid from that day to this; and it is out of the question now, it being long past the statute of limitations, to say nothing of Brady having since twice taken the benefit of the Act. So both parties jockeyed one another, having that pleasure which must do them instead of profit.

“She was a bay chestnut, and nothing would do Brady but he must run her at a little gap which Miss Dosy was going to clear, in order to show his gallantry and agility; and certainly I must do him the credit to say that he did get his mare on the gap, which was no small feat, but there she broke down, and off went Brady, neck and crop, into as fine a pool of stagnant green mud as you would ever wish to see. He was ducked regularly in it, and he came out, if not in the jacket, yet in the colours, of the Rifle Brigade, looking rueful enough at his misfortune, as you may suppose. But he had not much time to think of the figure he cut, for before he could well get up, who should come right slap over him but Miss Dosy herself upon Tom the Devil, having cleared the gap and a yard beyond the pool in fine style. Brady ducked, and escaped the horse, a little fresh daubing being of less consequence than the knocking out of his brains, if he had any; but he did not escape a smart rap from a stone which one of Tom’s heels flung back with such unlucky accuracy as to hit Brady right in the mouth, knocking out one of his eye-teeth (which, I do not recollect). Brady clapped his hand to his mouth, and bawled, as any man might do in such a case, so loud, that Miss Dosy checked Tom for a minute to turn round, and there she saw him making the most horrid faces in the world, his mouth streaming blood, and himself painted green from head to foot with as pretty a coat of shining slime as was to be found in the province of Munster. ‘That’s the gentleman you just leapt over, Miss Dosy,’ said I, for I had joined her, ‘and he seems to be in some confusion.’ ‘I am sorry,’ said she, ‘Bob, that I should have in any way offended him or any other gentleman, by leaping over him, but I can’t wait now. Take him my compliments, and tell him I should be happy to see him at tea at six o’clock this evening, in a different suit.’ Off she went, and I rode back with her message (by which means I was thrown out); and would you believe it, he had the ill manners to say ‘the h——;’ but I shall not repeat what he said. It was impolite to the last degree, not to say profane, but perhaps he may be somewhat excused under his peculiar circumstances. There is no knowing what even Job himself might have said, immediately after having been thrown off his horse into a green pool, with his eye-tooth knocked out, his mouth full of mud and blood, on being asked to a tea-party.

“He—Brady, not Job—went, nevertheless—for, on our return to Miss Dosy’s lodgings, we found a triangular note, beautifully perfumed, expressing his gratitude for her kind invitation, and telling her not to think of the slight accident which had occurred. How it happened, he added, he could not conceive, his mare never having broken down with him before—which was true enough, as that was the first day he ever mounted her—and she having been bought by himself at a sale of the Earl of Darlington’s horses last year, for two hundred guineas. She was a great favourite, he went on to say, with the Earl, who often rode her, and ran at Doncaster by the name of Miss Russell. All this latter part of the note was not quite so true, but then, it must be admitted, that when we talk about horses we are not tied down to be exact to a letter. If we were, God help Tattersall’s!

“To tea, accordingly, the ensign came at six, wiped clean, and in a different set-out altogether from what he appeared in on emerging from the ditch. He was, to make use of a phrase introduced from the ancient Latin into the modern Greek, togged up in the most approved style of his Majesty’s 48th foot. Bright was the scarlet of his coat—deep the blue of his facings.”

“I beg your pardon,” said Antony Harrison, here interrupting the speaker; “the 48th are not royals, and you ought to know that no regiment but those which are royal sport blue facings. I remember, once upon a time, in a coffee-shop, detecting a very smart fellow, who wrote some clever things in a Magazine published in Edinburgh by one Blackwood, under the character of a military man, not to be anything of the kind, by his talking about ensigns in the fusiliers—all the world knowing that in the fusiliers there are no ensigns, but in their place second lieutenants. Let me set you right there, Bob; the facings your friend Brady exhibited to the wondering gaze of the Mallow tea-table must have been buff—pale buff.”

“Buff, black, blue, brown, yellow, Pompadour, brick-dust, no matter what they were,” continued Burke, in nowise pleased by the interruption, “they were as bright as they could be made, and so was all the lace, and other traps which I shall not specify more minutely, as I am in presence of so sharp a critic. He was, in fact, in full dress—as you know is done in country quarters—and being not a bad plan and elevation of a man, looked well enough. Miss Dosy, I perceived, had not been perfectly ignorant of the rank and condition of the gentleman over whom she had leaped, for she was dressed in her purple satin body and white skirt, which she always put on when she wished to be irresistible, and her hair was suffered to flow in long ringlets down her fair neck—and, by Jupiter, it was fair as a swan’s, and as majestic too—and no mistake. Yes! Dosy Macnamara looked divine that evening.

“Never mind! Tea was brought in by Mary Keefe, and it was just as all other teas have been and will be. Do not, however, confound it with the wafer-sliced and hot-watered abominations which are inflicted, perhaps justly, on the wretched individuals who are guilty of haunting soirées and conversaziones in this good and bad city of London. The tea was congou or souchong, or some other of these Chinese affairs, for anything I know to the contrary; for, having dined at the house, I was mixing my fifth tumbler when tea was brought in, and Mrs Macnamara begged me not to disturb myself; and she being a lady for whom I had a great respect, I complied with her desire; but there was a potato-cake, an inch thick and two feet in diameter, which Mrs Macnamara informed me in a whisper was made by Dosy after the hunt.

“‘Poor chicken,’ she said, ‘if she had the strength, she has the willingness; but she is so delicate. If you saw her handling the potatoes to-day.’

“‘Madam,’ said I, looking tender, and putting my hand on my heart, ‘I wish I was a potato!’

CHAPTER III.

HOW ENSIGN BRADY ASTONISHED THE NATIVES AT MISS
THEODOSIA MACNAMARA’S.

“I thought this was an uncommonly pathetic wish, after the manner of the Persian poet Hafiz, but it was scarcely out of my mouth, when Ensign Brady, taking a cup of tea from Miss Dosy’s hand, looking upon me with an air of infinite condescension, declared that I must be the happiest of men, as my wish was granted before it was made. I was preparing to answer, but Miss Dosy laughed so loud that I had not time, and my only resource was to swallow what I had just made. The ensign followed up his victory without mercy.

“‘Talking of potatoes, Miss Theodosia,’ said he, looking at me, ‘puts me in mind of truffles. Do you know this most exquisite cake of yours much resembles a gateau aux truffes? By Gad! how Colonel Thornton, Sir Harry Millicent, Lord Mortgageshire, and that desperate fellow, the Honourable and Reverend Dick Sellenger, and I, used to tuck in truffles when we were quartered in Paris. Mortgageshire—an uncommon droll fellow; I used to call his Lordship Morty—he called me Brad—we were on such terms; and we used to live together in the Rue de la Paix, that beautiful street close by the Place Vendôme, where there’s the pillar. You have been at Paris, Miss Macnamara?’ asked the ensign, filling his mouth with a half-pound bite of the potato-cake at the same moment.

“Dosy confessed that she had never travelled into any foreign parts except the kingdom of Kerry; and on the same question being repeated to me, I was obliged to admit that I was in a similar predicament. Brady was triumphant.

“‘It is a loss to any man,’ said he, ‘not to have been in Paris. I know that city well, and so I ought; but I did many naughty things there.’

“‘O fie!’ said Mrs Macnamara.

“‘O, madam,’ continued Brady, ‘the fact is, that the Paris ladies were rather too fond of us English. When I say English, I mean Scotch and Irish as well; but, nevertheless, I think Irishmen had more good-luck than the natives of the other two islands.’

“‘In my geography book,’ said Miss Dosy, ‘it is put down only as one island, consisting of England, capital London, on the Thames, in the south; and Scotland, capital Edinburgh, on the Forth, in the north; population’——

“‘Gad! you are right,’ said Brady—‘perfectly right, Miss Macnamara. I see you are quite a blue. But, as I was saying, it is scarce possible for a good-looking young English officer to escape the French ladies. And then I played rather deep—on the whole, however, I think, I may say I won. Mortgageshire and I broke Frascati’s one night—we won a hundred thousand francs at rouge, and fifty-four thousand at roulette. You would have thought the croupiers would have fainted; they tore their hair with vexation. The money, however, soon went again—we could not keep it. As for wine, you have it cheap there, and of a quality which you cannot get in England. At Very’s, for example, I drank chambertin—it is a kind of claret—for three francs two sous a-bottle, which was, beyond all comparison, far superior to what I drank, a couple of months ago, at the Duke of Devonshire’s, though his Grace prides himself on that very wine, and sent to a particular binn for a favourite specimen, when I observed to him I had tasted better in Paris. Out of politeness, I pretended to approve of his Grace’s choice; but I give you my honour—only I would not wish it to reach his Grace’s ears—it was not to be compared to what I had at Very’s for a moment.’

“So flowed on Brady for a couple of hours. The Tooleries, as he thought proper to call them; the Louvre, with its pictures, the removal of which he deplored as a matter of taste, assuring us that he had used all his influence with the Emperor of Russia and the Duke of Wellington to prevent it, but in vain; the Boulevards, the opera, the theatres, the Champs Elysées, the Montagnes Russes—everything, in short, about Paris, was depicted to the astonished mind of Miss Dosy. Then came London—where he belonged to I do not know how many clubs—and cut a most distinguished figure in the fashionable world. He was of the Prince Regent’s set, and assured us, on his honour, that there was never anything so ill-founded as the stories afloat to the discredit of that illustrious person. But on what happened at Carlton House, he felt obliged to keep silence, the Prince being remarkably strict in exacting a premise from every gentleman whom he admitted to his table, not to divulge anything that occurred there—a violation of which promise was the cause of the exclusion of Brummell. As for the Princess of Wales, he would rather not say anything.

“And so forth. Now, in those days of my innocence, I believed these stories as gospel, hating the fellow all the while from the bottom of my heart, as I saw that he made a deep impression on Dosy, who sat in open-mouthed wonder, swallowing them down as a common-councilman swallows turtle. But times are changed. I have seen Paris and London since, and I believe I know both villages as well as most men, and the deuce a word of truth did Brady tell in his whole narrative. In Paris, when not in quarters (he had joined some six or eight months after Waterloo), he lived au cinquantième in a dog-hole in the Rue Git-le-Cœur (a street at what I may call the Surrey side of Paris), among carters and other such folk; and in London I discovered that his principal domicile was in one of the courts now demolished to make room for the fine new gimcrackery at Charing Cross; it was in Round Court, at a pieman’s of the name of Dudfield.”

“Dick Dudfield?” said Jack Ginger; “I knew the man well—a most particular friend of mine. He was a duffer besides being a pieman, and was transported some years ago. He is now a flourishing merchant in Australasia, and will, I suppose, in due time be grandfather to a member of Congress.”

“There it was that Brady lived then,” continued Bob Burke, “when he was hobnobbing with Georgius Quartus, and dancing at Almack’s with Lady Elizabeth Conynghame. Faith, the nearest approach he ever made to royalty was when he was put into the King’s own Bench, where he sojourned many a long day. What an ass I was to believe a word of such stuff! but, nevertheless, it goes down with the rustics to the present minute. I sometimes sport a duke or so myself, when I find myself among yokels, and I rise vastly in estimation by so doing. What do we come to London or Paris for, but to get some touch of knowing how to do things properly? It would be devilish hard, I think, for Ensign Brady, or Ensign Brady’s master, to do me nowadays by flamming off titles of high life.”

The company did no more than justice to Mr Burke’s experience, by unanimously admitting that such a feat was all but impossible.

“I was,” he went on, “a good deal annoyed at my inferiority, and I could not help seeing that Miss Dosy was making comparisons that were rather odious, as she glanced from the gay uniform of the Ensign on my habiliments, which having been perpetrated by a Mallow tailor with a hatchet, or pitchfork, or pickaxe, or some such tool, did not stand the scrutiny to advantage. I was, I think, a better-looking fellow than Brady. Well, well—laugh if you like. I am no beauty, I know; but then, consider that what I am talking of was sixteen years ago, and more; and a man does not stand the battering I have gone through for these sixteen years with impunity. Do you call the thirty or forty thousand tumblers of punch, in all its varieties, that I have since imbibed, nothing?”

“Yes,” said Jack Ginger, with a sigh, “there was a song we used to sing on board the Brimstone, when cruising about the Spanish main—

“‘If Mars leaves his scars, jolly Bacchus as well
Sets his trace on the face, which a toper will tell;
But which a more merry campaign has pursued,
The shedder of wine, or the shedder of blood?’

“I forget the rest of it. Poor Ned Nixon! It was he who made that song—he was afterwards bit in two by a shark, having tumbled overboard in the cool of the evening, one fine summer day, off Port Royal.”

“Well, at all events,” said Burke, continuing his narrative, “I thought I was a better-looking fellow than my rival, and was fretted at being sung down. I resolved to outstay him—and though he sate long enough, I, who was more at home, contrived to remain after him, but it was only to hear him extolled.

“‘A very nice young man,’ said Mrs Macnamara.

“‘An extreme nice young man,’ responded Miss Theodosia.

“‘A perfect gentleman in his manners; he puts me quite in mind of my uncle, the late Jerry O’Regan,’ observed Mrs Macnamara.

“‘Quite the gentleman in every particular,’ ejaculated Miss Theodosia.

“‘He has seen a great deal of the world for so young a man,’ remarked Mrs Macnamara.

“‘He has mixed in the best society, too,’ cried Miss Theodosia.

“‘It is a great advantage to a young man to travel,’ quoth Mrs Macnamara.

“‘And a very great disadvantage to a young man to be always sticking at home,’ chimed in Miss Theodosia, looking at me; ‘it shuts them out from all chances of the elegance which we have just seen displayed by Ensign Brady of the 48th Foot.’

“‘For my part,’ said I, ‘I do not think him such an elegant fellow at all. Do you remember, Dosy Macnamara, how he looked when he got up out of the green puddle to-day?’

“‘Mr Burke,’ said she, ‘that was an accident that might happen any man. You were thrown yourself this day week, on clearing Jack Falvey’s wall—so you need not reflect on Mr Brady.’

“‘If I was,’ said I, ‘it was as fine a leap as ever was made; and I was on my mare in half a shake afterwards. Bob Buller of Ballythomas, or Jack Prendergast, or Fergus O’Connor, could not have it rode it better. And you too’——

“‘Well,’ said she, ‘I am not going to dispute with you. I am sleepy, and must get to bed.’

“‘Do, poor chicken,’ said Mrs Macnamara, soothingly, ‘and, Bob, my dear, I wish it was in your power to go travel, and see the Booleries and the Tooleyvards, and the rest, and then you might be, in course of time, as genteel as Ensign Brady.’

“‘Heigho!’ said Miss Dosy, ejecting a sigh. ‘Travel, Bob, travel.’

“‘I will,’ said I, at once, and left the house in the most abrupt manner, after consigning Ensign Brady to the particular attention of Tisiphone, Alecto, and Megæra, all compressed into one emphatic monosyllable.

CHAPTER IV.

HOW BOB BURKE, AFTER AN INTERVIEW WITH BARNEY PULVERTAFT,
ASCERTAINED THAT HE WAS DESPERATELY IN LOVE
WITH MISS THEODOSIA MACNAMARA.

“On leaving Dosy’s lodgings, I began to consult the state of my heart. Am I really, said I, so much in love, as to lose my temper if this prating ensign should carry off the lady? I was much puzzled to resolve the question. I walked up and down the Spa-Walk, whiffing a cigar, for a quarter of an hour, without being able to come to a decision. At last, just as the cigar was out, my eye caught a light in the window of Barney Pulvertaft, the attorney—old Six-and-Eightpence, as we used to call him. I knew he was the confidential agent of the Macnamaras; and as he had carried on sixteen lawsuits for my father, I thought I had a claim to learn something about the affairs of Miss Dosy. I understood she was an heiress, but had never, until now, thought of inquiring into the precise amount of her expectancies. Seeing that the old fellow was up, I determined to step over, and found him in the middle of law-papers, although it was then rather late, with a pot-bellied jug, of the bee-hive pattern, by his side, full of punch—or rather, I should say, half-full; for Six-and-Eightpence had not been idle. His snuff-coloured wig was cocked on one side of his head—his old velveteen breeches open at the knee—his cravat off—his shirt unbuttoned—his stockings half down his lean legs—his feet in a pair of worsted slippers. The old fellow was, in short, relaxed for the night, but he had his pen in his hand.

“‘I am only filling copies of capiases, Bob,’ said he; ‘light and pleasant work, which does not distress one in an evening. There are a few of your friends booked here. What has brought you to me so late to-night?—but your father’s son is always welcome. Ay, there were few men like your father—never stagged in a lawsuit in his life—saw it always out to the end—drove it from court to court;—if he was beat, why, so much the worse, but he never fretted—if he won, faith! he squeezed the opposite party well. Ay, he was a good-hearted, honest, straightforward man. I wish I had a hundred such clients. So here’s his memory anyhow.’

“Six-and-Eightpence had a good right to give the toast, as what constituted the excellence of my father in his eyes had moved most of the good acres of Ballyburke out of the family into the hands of the lawyers; but from filial duty I complied with the attorney’s request—the more readily, because I well knew, from long experience, that his skill in punch-making was unimpeachable. So we talked about my father’s old lawsuits, and I got Barney into excellent humour, by letting him tell me of the great skill and infinite adroitness which he had displayed upon a multiplicity of occasions. It was not, however, until we were deep in the second jug, and Six-and-Eightpence was beginning to show symptoms of being cut, that I ventured to introduce the subject of my visit. I did it as cautiously as I could, but the old fellow soon found out my drift.

“‘No,’ hiccuped he—‘Bob—’twont—’twont—do. Close as green—green wax. Never te-tell profess-profess-professional secrets. Know her expec—hiccup—tances to a ten-ten-penny. So you are after—after—her? Ah, Bo-bob! She’ll be a ca-catch—but not a wo-word from me. No—never. Bar-ney Pe-pulverfta-taft is game to the last. Never be-betrayed ye-your father. God rest his soul—he was a wo-worthy man.’

“On this recollection of the merits of my sainted sire, the attorney wept; and in spite of all his professional determinations, whether the potency of the fluid or the memory of the deceased acted upon him, I got at the facts. Dosy had not more than a couple of hundred pounds in the world—her mother’s property was an annuity which expired with herself; but her uncle, by the father’s side, Mick Macnamara of Kawleash, had an estate of at least five hundred a-year, which, in case of his dying without issue, was to come to her—besides a power of money saved; Mick being one who, to use the elegant phraseology of my friend the attorney, would skin a flea for the sake of selling the hide. All this money, ten thousand pounds, or something equally musical, would in all probability go to Miss Dosy—the £500 a-year was hers by entail. Now, as her uncle was eighty-four years old, unmarried, and in the last stage of the palsy, it was a thing as sure as the bank, that Miss Dosy was a very rich heiress indeed.

“‘So—so,’ said Six-and-Eightpence—‘this—this—is strictly confiddle-confid-confiddledential. Do—do not say a word about it. I ought not to have to-told it—but, you do-dog, you wheedled it out of me. Da-dang it, I co-could not ref-refuse your father’s son. You are ve-very like him—as I sa-saw him sitting many a ti-time in that cha-chair. But you nev-never will have his spu-spunk in a sho-shoot (suit). There, the lands of Arry-arry-arry-bally-bally-be-beg-clock-clough-macde-de-duagh—confound the wo-word—of Arryballybegcloughmacduagh, the finest be-bog in the co-country—are ye-yours—but you haven’t spu-spunk to go into Cha-chancery for it, like your worthy fa-father, Go-god rest his soul. Blow out that se-second ca-candle, Bo-bob, for I hate waste.’

“‘There’s but one in the room, Barney,’ said I.

“‘You mean to say,’ hiccuped he, ‘that I am te-te-tipsy? Well, well, ye-young fe-fellows, well, I am their je-joke. However, as the je-jug is out, you must be je-jogging. Early to bed, and early to rise, is the way to be——. However, le-lend me your arm up the sta-stairs, for they are very slip-slippery to-night.’

“I conducted the attorney to his bedchamber, and safely stowed him into bed, while he kept stammering forth praises on my worthy father, and up-braiding me with want of spunk in not carrying on a Chancery suit begun by him some twelve years before, for a couple of hundred acres of bog, the value of which would scarcely have amounted to the price of the parchment expended on it. Having performed this duty, I proceeded homewards, labouring under a variety of sensations.

“How delicious is the feeling of love, when it first takes full possession of a youthful bosom! Before its balmy influence vanish all selfish thoughts—all grovelling notions. Pure and sublimated, the soul looks forward to objects beyond self, and merges all ideas of personal identity in aspirations of the felicity to be derived from the being adored. A thrill of rapture pervades the breast—an intense but bland flame permeates every vein—throbs in every pulse. Oh, blissful period, brief in duration, but crowded with thoughts of happiness never to recur again! As I gained the Walk, the moon was high and bright in heaven, pouring a flood of mild light over the trees. The stars shone with sapphire lustre in the cloudless sky—not a breeze disturbed the deep serene. I was alone. I thought of my love—of what else could I think? What I had just heard had kindled my passion for the divine Theodosia into a quenchless blaze. Yes, I exclaimed aloud, I do love her. Such an angel does not exist on the earth. What charms! What innocence! What horsewomanship! Five hundred a-year certain! Ten thousand pounds in perspective! I’ll repurchase the lands of Ballyburke—I’ll rebuild the hunting-lodge in the Galtees—I’ll keep a pack of hounds, and live a sporting life. Oh, dear, divine Theodosia, how I do adore you! I’ll shoot that Brady, and no mistake. How dare he interfere where my affections are so irrevocably fixed?

“Such were my musings. Alas! how we are changed as we progress through the world! That breast becomes arid, which once was open to every impression of the tender passion. The rattle of the dice-box beats out of the head the rattle of the quiver of Cupid—and the shuffling of the cards renders the rustling of his wings inaudible. The necessity of looking after a tablecloth supersedes that of looking after a petticoat, and we more willingly make an assignation with a mutton-chop, than with an angel in female form. The bonds of love are exchanged for those of the conveyancer—bills take the place of billets, and we do not protest, but are protested against, by a three-and-six-penny notary. Such are the melancholy effects of age. I knew them not then. I continued to muse full of sweet thoughts, until gradually the moon faded from the sky—the stars went out—and all was darkness. Morning succeeded to night, and, on awaking, I found that, owing to the forgetfulness in which the thoughts of the fair Theodosia had plunged me, I had selected the bottom step of old Barney Pulvertaft’s door as my couch, and was awakened from repose in consequence of his servant-maid (one Norry Mulcaky) having emptied the contents of her—washing-tub, over my slumbering person.

CHAPTER V.

HOW BOB BURKE, AFTER CONSULTATION WITH WOODEN-LEG
WADDY, FOUGHT THE DUEL WITH ENSIGN BRADY FOR THE
SAKE OF MISS THEODOSIA MACNAMARA.

“At night I had fallen asleep fierce in the determination of exterminating Brady; but with the morrow, cool reflection came—made probably cooler by the aspersion I had suffered. How could I fight him, when he had never given me the slightest affront? To be sure, picking a quarrel is not hard, thank God, in any part of Ireland; but unless I was quick about it, he might get so deep into the good graces of Dosy, who was as flammable as tinder, that even my shooting him might not be of any practical advantage to myself. Then, besides, he might shoot me; and, in fact, I was not by any means so determined in the affair at seven o’clock in the morning as I was at twelve o’clock at night. I got home, however, dressed, shaved, &c., and turned out. ‘I think,’ said I to myself, ‘the best thing I can do, is to go and consult Wooden-leg Waddy; and, as he is an early man, I shall catch him now.’ The thought was no sooner formed than executed; and in less than five minutes I was walking with Wooden-leg Waddy in his garden, at the back of his house, by the banks of the Blackwater.

“Waddy had been in the Hundred-and-First, and had seen much service in that distinguished corps.”

“I remember it well during the war,” said Antony Harrison; “we used to call it the Hungry-and-Worst;—but it did its duty on a pinch nevertheless.”

“No matter,” continued Burke; “Waddy had served a good deal, and lost his leg somehow, for which he had a pension besides his half-pay, and he lived in ease and affluence among the Bucks of Mallow. He was a great hand at settling and arranging duels, being what we generally call in Ireland a judgmatical sort of man—a word which, I think, might be introduced with advantage into the English vocabulary. When I called on him, he was smoking his meerschaum, as he walked up and down his garden in an old undress-coat, and a fur cap on his head. I bade him good morning; to which salutation he answered by a nod, and a more prolonged whiff.

“‘I want to speak to you, Wooden-leg,’ said I, ‘on a matter which nearly concerns me.’ On which, I received another nod, and another whiff in reply.

“‘The fact is,’ said I, ‘that there is an Ensign Brady of the 48th quartered here, with whom I have some reason to be angry, and I am thinking of calling him out. I have come to ask your advice whether I should do so or not. He has deeply injured me, by interfering between me and the girl of my affections. What ought I to do in such a case?’

“‘Fight him, by all means,’ said Wooden-leg Waddy.

“‘But the difficulty is this—he has offered me no affront, direct or indirect—we have no quarrel whatever—and he has not paid any addresses to the lady. He and I have scarcely been in contact at all. I do not see how I can manage it immediately with any propriety. What then can I do now?’

“‘Do not fight him, by any means,’ said Wooden-leg Waddy.

“‘Still these are the facts of the case. He, whether intentionally or not, is coming between me and my mistress, which is doing me an injury perfectly equal to the grossest insult. How should I act?’

“‘Fight him, by all means,’ said Wooden-leg Waddy.

“‘But then I fear if I were to call him out on a groundless quarrel, or one which would appear to be such, that I should lose the good graces of the lady, and be laughed at by my friends, or set down as a quarrelsome and dangerous companion.’

“‘Do not fight him then, by any means,’ said Wooden-leg Waddy.

“‘Yet as he is a military man, he must know enough of the etiquette of these affairs to feel perfectly confident that he has affronted me; and the opinion of a military man, standing, as of course he does, in the rank and position of a gentleman, could not, I think, be overlooked without disgrace.’

“‘Fight him, by all means,’ said Wooden-leg Waddy.

“‘But then, talking of gentlemen, I own he is an officer of the 48th, but his father is a fish-tackle seller in John Street, Kilkenny, who keeps a three-halfpenny shop, where you may buy everything, from a cheese to a cheese-toaster, from a felt hat to a pair of brogues, from a pound of brown soap to a yard of huckaback towels. He got his commission by his father’s retiring from the Ormonde interest, and acting as whipper-in to the sham freeholders from Castlecomer; and I am, as you know, of the best blood of the Burkes—straight from the De Burgos themselves—and when I think of that, I really do not like to meet this Mr Brady.’

“‘Do not fight him, by any means,’ said Wooden-leg Waddy.”

“This advice of your friend Waddy to you,” said Tom Meggot, interrupting Burke, “much resembles that which Pantagruel gave Panurge on the subject of his marriage, as I heard a friend of mine, Percy, of Gray’s Inn, reading to me the other day.”

“I do not know the people you speak of,” continued Bob, “but such was the advice which Waddy gave me.

“‘Why,’ said I, ‘Wooden-leg, my friend, this is like playing battledore and shuttlecock; what is knocked forward with one hand is knocked back with the other. Come, tell me what I ought to do.’

“‘Well,’ said Wooden-leg, taking the meerschaum out of his mouth, ‘in dubiis suspice, &c. Let us decide it by tossing a halfpenny. If it comes down head, you fight—if harp, you do not. Nothing can be fairer.’

“I assented.

“‘Which,’ said he, ‘is it to be—two out of three, as at Newmarket, or the first toss to decide?’

“‘Sudden death,’ said I, ‘and there will soon be an end of it.’

“Up went the halfpenny, and we looked with anxious eyes for its descent, when, unluckily, it stuck in a gooseberry-bush.

“‘I don’t like that,’ said Wooden-leg Waddy; ‘for it’s a token of bad luck. But here goes again.’

“Again the copper soared to the sky, and down it came—head.

“‘I wish you joy, my friend,’ said Waddy; ‘you are to fight. That was my opinion all along; though I did not like to commit myself. I can lend you a pair of the most beautiful duelling-pistols ever put into a man’s hand—Wogden’s, I swear. The last time they were out, they shot Joe Brown of Mount Badger as dead as Harry the Eighth.’

“‘Will you be my second?’ said I.

“‘Why, no,’ replied Wooden-leg, ‘I cannot; for I am bound over by a rascally magistrate to keep the peace, because I barely broke the head of a blackguard bailiff, who came here to serve a writ on a friend of mine, with one of my spare legs. But I can get you a second at once. My nephew, Major Mug, has just come to me on a few days’ visit, and, as he is quite idle, it will give him some amusement to be your second. Look up at his bedroom—you see he is shaving himself.’

“In a short time the Major made his appearance, dressed with a most military accuracy of costume. There was not a speck of dust on his well-brushed blue surtout—not a vestige of hair, except the regulation whiskers, on his closely-shaven countenance. His hat was brushed to the most glossy perfection—his boots shone in the jetty glow of Day and Martin. There was scarcely an ounce of flesh on his hard and weather-beaten face, and, as he stood rigidly upright, you would have sworn that every sinew and muscle of his body was as stiff as whipcord. He saluted us in military style, and was soon put in possession of the case. Wooden-leg Waddy insinuated that there were hardly as yet grounds for a duel.

“‘I differ,’ said Major Mug, ‘decidedly—the grounds are ample. I never saw a clearer case in my life, and I have been principal or second in seven-and-twenty. If I collect your story rightly, Mr Burke, he gave you an abrupt answer in the field, which was highly derogatory to the lady in question, and impertinently rude to yourself?’

“‘He certainly,’ said I, ‘gave me what we call a short answer; but I did not notice it at the time, and he has since made friends with the young lady.’

“‘It matters nothing,’ observed Major Mug, ‘what you may think, or she may think. The business is now in my hands, and I must see you through it. The first thing to be done is to write him a letter. Send out for paper—let it be gilt-edged, Waddy—that we may do the thing genteelly. I’ll dictate, Mr Burke, if you please.’

“And so he did. As well as I can recollect, the note was as follows:—

“‘Spa-Walk, Mallow, June 3, 18—.
“‘Eight o’clock in the morning.

“‘Sir,—A desire for harmony and peace, which has at all times actuated my conduct, prevented me, yesterday, from asking you the meaning of the short and contemptuous message which you commissioned me to deliver to a certain young lady of our acquaintance, whose name I do not choose to drag into a correspondence. But now that there is no danger of its disturbing any one, I must say that in your desiring me to tell that young lady she might consider herself as d——d, you were guilty of conduct highly unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman, and subversive of the discipline of the hunt. I have the honour to be, sir, your most obedient humble servant,

“‘Robert Burke.

“‘P. S.—This note will be delivered to you by my friend, Major Mug, of the 3d West Indian; and you will, I trust, see the propriety of referring him to another gentleman without further delay.’

“‘That, I think, is neat,’ said the Major. ‘Now, seal it with wax, Mr Burke, with wax—and let the seal be your arms. That’s right. Now, direct it.’

“‘Ensign Brady?’

“‘No—no—the right thing would be, “Mr Brady, Ensign, 48th foot,” but custom allows “Esquire.” That will do.—“Thady Brady, Esq., Ensign, 48th Foot, Barracks, Mallow.” He shall have it in less than a quarter of an hour.’

“The Major was as good as his word, and in about half an hour he brought back the result of his mission. The Ensign, he told us, was extremely reluctant to fight, and wanted to be off, on the ground that he had meant no offence, did not even remember having used the expression, and offered to ask the lady if she conceived for a moment he had any idea of saying anything but what was complimentary to her.

“‘In fact,’ said the Major, ‘he at first plumply refused to fight; but I soon brought him to reason. “Sir,” said I, “you either consent to fight, or refuse to fight. In the first case, the thing is settled to hand, and we are not called upon to inquire if there was an affront or not—in the second case, your refusal to comply with a gentleman’s request is, of itself, an offence for which he has a right to call you out. Put it, then, on any grounds, you must fight him. It is perfectly indifferent to me what the grounds may be; and I have only to request the name of your friend, as I too much respect the coat you wear to think that there can be any other alternative.” This brought the chap to his senses, and he referred me to Captain Codd, of his own regiment, at which I felt much pleased, because Codd is an intimate friend of my own, he and I having fought a duel three years ago in Falmouth, in which I lost the top of this little finger, and he his left whisker. It was a near touch. He is as honourable a man as ever paced a ground; and I am sure that he will no more let his man off the field until business is done, than I would myself.’

“I own,” continued Burke, “I did not half relish this announcement of the firm purpose of our seconds; but I was in for it, and could not get back. I sometimes thought Dosy a dear purchase at such an expense; but it was no use to grumble. Major Mug was sorry to say that there was a review to take place immediately, at which the Ensign must attend, and it was impossible for him to meet me until the evening; ‘but,’ added he, ‘at this time of the year it can be of no great consequence. There will be plenty of light till nine, but I have fixed seven. In the mean time, you may as well divert yourself with a little pistol-practice, but do it on the sly, as, if they were shabby enough to have a trial, it would not tell well before the jury.’

“Promising to take a quiet chop with me at five, the Major retired, leaving me not quite contented with the state of affairs. I sat down, and wrote a letter to my cousin, Phil Purdon of Kanturk, telling him what I was about, and giving directions what was to be done in the case of any fatal event. I communicated to him the whole story—deplored my unhappy fate in being thus cut off in the flower of my youth—left him three pair of buckskin breeches—and repented my sins. This letter I immediately packed off by a special messenger, and then began half-a-dozen others, of various styles of tenderness and sentimentality, to be delivered after my melancholy decease. The day went off fast enough, I assure you; and at five the Major, and Wooden-leg Waddy, arrived in high spirits.

“‘Here, my boy,’ said Waddy, handing me the pistols, ‘here are the flutes; and pretty music, I can tell you, they make.’

“‘As for dinner,’ said Major Mug, ‘I do not much care; but, Mr Burke, I hope it is ready, as I am rather hungry. We must dine lightly, however, and drink not much. If we come off with flying colours, we may crack a bottle together by-and-by; in case you shoot Brady, I have everything arranged for our keeping out of the way until the thing blows over—if he shoot you, I’ll see you buried. Of course, you would not recommend anything so ungenteel as a prosecution? No. I’ll take care it shall all appear in the papers, and announce that Robert Burke, Esq., met his death with becoming fortitude, assuring the unhappy survivor that he heartily forgave him, and wished him health and happiness.’

“‘I must tell you,’ said Wooden-leg Waddy, ‘it’s all over Mallow, and the whole town will be on the ground to see it. Miss Dosy knows of it, and is quite delighted—she says she will certainly marry the survivor. I spoke to the magistrate to keep out of the way, and he promised that, though it deprived him of a great pleasure, he would go and dine five miles off—and know nothing about it. But here comes dinner. Let us be jolly.’

“I cannot say that I played on that day as brilliant a part with the knife and fork as I usually do, and did not sympathise much in the speculations of my guests, who pushed the bottle about with great energy, recommending me, however, to refrain. At last the Major looked at his watch, which he had kept lying on the table before him from the beginning of dinner—started up—clapped me on the shoulder, and declaring it only wanted six minutes and thirty-five seconds of the time, hurried me off to the scene of action—a field close by the Castle.

“There certainly was a miscellaneous assemblage of the inhabitants of Mallow, all anxious to see the duel. They had pitted us like game-cocks, and bets were freely taken as to the chances of our killing one another, and the particular spots. One betted on my being hit in the jaw, another was so kind as to lay the odds on my knee. A tolerably general opinion appeared to prevail that one or other of us was to be killed; and much good-humoured joking took place among them, while they were deciding which. As I was double the thickness of my antagonist, I was clearly the favourite for being shot; and I heard one fellow near me say, ‘Three to two on Burke, that he’s shot first—I bet in ten-pennies.’

“Brady and Codd soon appeared, and the preliminaries were arranged with much punctilio between our seconds, who mutually and loudly extolled each other’s gentlemanlike mode of doing business. Brady could scarcely stand with fright, and I confess that I did not feel quite as Hector of Troy, or the Seven Champions of Christendom, are reported to have done on similar occasions. At last the ground was measured—the pistols handed to the principals—the handkerchief dropped—whiz! went the bullet within an inch of my ear—and crack! went mine exactly on Ensign Brady’s waistcoat pocket. By an unaccountable accident, there was a five-shilling piece in that very pocket, and the ball glanced away, while Brady doubled himself down, uttering a loud howl that might be heard half a mile off. The crowd was so attentive as to give a huzza for my success.

“Codd ran up to his principal, who was writhing as if he had ten thousand colics, and soon ascertained that no harm was done.

“‘What do you propose,’ said he to my second—‘What do you propose to do, Major?’

“‘As there is neither blood drawn nor bone broken,’ said the Major, ‘I think that shot goes for nothing.’

“‘I agree with you,’ said Captain Codd.

“‘If your party will apologise,’ said Major Mug, ‘I’ll take my man off the ground.’

“‘Certainly,’ said Captain Codd, ‘you are quite right, Major, in asking the apology, but you know that it is my duty to refuse it.’

“‘You are correct, Captain,’ said the Major; ‘I then formally require that Ensign Brady apologise to Mr Burke.’

“‘I as formally refuse it,’ said Captain Codd.

“‘We must have another shot then,’ said the Major.

“‘Another shot, by all means,’ said the Captain.

“‘Captain Codd,’ said the Major, ‘you have shown yourself in this, as in every transaction of your life, a perfect gentleman.’

“‘He who would dare to say,’ replied the Captain, ‘that Major Mug is not among the most gentlemanlike men in the service, would speak what is untrue.’

“Our seconds bowed, took a pinch of snuff together, and proceeded to load the pistols. Neither Brady nor I was particularly pleased at these complimentary speeches of the gentlemen, and, I am sure, had we been left to ourselves, would have declined the second shot. As it was, it appeared inevitable.

“Just, however, as the process of loading was completing, there appeared on the ground my cousin Phil Purdon, rattling in on his black mare as hard as he could lick. When he came in sight he bawled out,—

“‘I want to speak to the plaintiff in this action—I mean, to one of the parties in this duel. I want to speak to you, Bob Burke.’

“‘The thing is impossible, sir,’ said Major Mug.

“‘Perfectly impossible, sir,’ said Captain Codd.

“‘Possible or impossible is nothing to the question,’ shouted Purdon; ‘Bob, I must speak to you.’

“‘It is contrary to all regulation,’ said the Major.

“‘Quite contrary,’ said the Captain.

“Phil, however, persisted, and approached me. ‘Are you fighting about Dosy Mac?’ said he to me in a whisper.

“‘Yes,’ I replied.

“‘And she is to marry the survivor, I understand?’

“‘So I am told,’ said I.

“‘Back out, Bob, then; back out, at the rate of a hunt. Old Mick Macnamara is married.’

“‘Married!’ I exclaimed.

“‘Poz,’ said he. ‘I drew the articles myself. He married his housemaid, a girl of eighteen; and,’—here he whispered.

“‘What,’ I cried, ‘six months!’

“‘Six months,’ said he, ‘and no mistake.’

“‘Ensign Brady,’ said I, immediately coming forward, ‘there has been a strange misconception in this business. I here declare, in presence of this honourable company, that you have acted throughout like a man of honour, and a gentleman; and you leave the ground without a stain on your character.’

“Brady hopped three feet off the ground with joy at the unexpected deliverance. He forgot all etiquette, and came forward to shake me by the hand.

“‘My dear Burke,’ said he, ‘it must have been a mistake: let us swear eternal friendship.’

“‘For ever,’ said I. ‘I resign you Miss Theodosia.’

“‘You are too generous,’ he said, ‘but I cannot abuse your generosity.’

“‘It is unprecedented conduct,’ growled Major Mug. ‘I’ll never be second to a Pekin again.’

“‘My principal leaves the ground with honour,’ said Captain Codd, looking melancholy nevertheless.

“‘Humph!’ grunted Wooden-leg Waddy, lighting his meerschaum.

“The crowd dispersed much displeased, and I fear my reputation for valour did not rise among them. I went off with Purdon to finish a jug at Carmichael’s, and Brady swaggered off to Miss Dosy’s. His renown for valour won her heart. It cannot be denied that I sunk deeply in her opinion. On that very evening Brady broke his love, and was accepted. Mrs Mac. opposed, but the red-coat prevailed.

“‘He may rise to be a general,’ said Dosy, ‘and be a knight, and then I will be Lady Brady.’

“‘Or if my father should be made an earl, angelic Theodosia, you would be Lady Thady Brady,’ said the Ensign.

“‘Beautiful prospect!’ cried Dosy, ‘Lady Thady Brady! What a harmonious sound!’

“But why dally over the detail of my unfortunate loves? Dosy and the Ensign were married before the accident which had befallen her uncle was discovered; and if they were not happy, why, then you and I may. They have had eleven children, and, I understand, he now keeps a comfortable eating-house close by Cumberland Basin in Bristol. Such was my duel with Ensign Brady of the 48th.”

“Your fighting with Brady puts me in mind, that the finest duel I ever saw,” said Joe MacGillycuddy, “was between a butcher and bull-dog, in the Diamond of Derry.”

“I am obliged to you for your comparison,” said Burke, “but I think it is now high time for dinner, and your beautiful story will keep. Has anybody the least idea where dinner is to be raised?”

To this no answer was returned, and we all began to reflect with the utmost intensity.