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Barrington Volume I (of II)   By: (1806-1872)

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Volume I.

By Charles James Lever

With Illustrations By Phiz.

Boston: Little, Brown, And Company.


[Illustration: frontispiece]



If there should be, at this day we live in, any one bold enough to confess that he fished the river Nore, in Ireland, some forty years ago, he might assist me by calling to mind a small inn, about two miles from the confluence of that river with the Barrow, a spot in great favor with those who followed the "gentle craft."

It was a very unpretending hostel, something wherein cottage and farmhouse were blended, and only recognizable as a place of entertainment by a tin trout suspended over the doorway, with the modest inscription underneath, "Fisherman's Home." Very seldom is it, indeed, that hotel pledges are as honestly fulfilled as they were in this simple announcement. The house was, in all that quiet comfort and unostentatious excellence can make, a veritable Home! Standing in a fine old orchard of pear and damson trees, it was only approachable by a path which led from the highroad, about two miles off, or by the river, which wound round the little grassy promontory beneath the cottage. On the opposite side of the stream arose cliffs of considerable height, their terraced sides covered with larch and ash, around whose stems the holly, the laurel, and arbutus grew in a wild and rich profusion. A high mountain, rugged with rock and precipice, shut in the picture, and gave to the river all the semblance of a narrow lake.

The Home, as may be imagined, was only resorted to by fishermen, and of these not many; for the chosen few who knew the spot, with the churlishness of true anglers, were strenuously careful to keep the secret to themselves. But another and stronger cause contributed to this seclusion. The landlord was a reduced gentleman, who, only anxious to add a little to his narrow fortune, would not have accepted a greater prosperity at the cost of more publicity, and who probably only consented to his occupation on finding how scrupulously his guests respected his position.

Indeed, it was only on leave taking, and then far from painfully, you were reminded of being in an inn. There was no noise, no bustle; books, magazines, flowers, lay about; cupboards lay open, with all their cordials free to take. You might dine under the spreading sycamore beside the well, and have your dessert for the plucking. No obsequious waiter shook his napkin as you passed, no ringleted barmaid crossed your musing steps, no jingling of bells, or discordant cries, or high voiced remonstrances disturbed you. The hum of the summer bee, or the flapping plash of a trout, were about the only sounds in the stillness, and all was as peaceful and as calm and as dreamy as the most world weary could have wished it.

Of those who frequented the spot, some merely knew that the host had seen better days. Others, however, were aware that Peter Barrington had once been a man of large fortune, and represented his county in the Irish Parliament. Though not eminent as a politician, he was one of the great convivial celebrities of a time that boasted of Curran, and Avanmore, and Parsons, and a score of others, any one of whom, in our day, would have made a society famous. Barrington, too, was the almoner of the monks of the screw, and "Peter's pence" was immortalized in a song by Ned Lysaght, of which I once possessed, but have lost a copy.

One might imagine there could be no difficulty in showing how in that wild period of riotous living and costly rivalry an Irish gentleman ran through all his property and left himself penniless. It was, indeed, a time of utter recklessness, many seeming possessed of that devil may care spirit that drives a drowning crew to break open the spirit room and go down in an orgie. But Barrington's fortune was so large, and his successes on the turf so considerable, that it appeared incredible, when his estates came to the hammer, and all his personal property was sold off; so complete his ruin, that, as he said himself, the "only shelter he had was an umbrella, and even that he borrowed from Dan Driscoll, the sheriff's officer... Continue reading book >>

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