CHAPTER XIX

Conclusion

If the world were not composed of a race of ungrateful scoundrels, who share your prosperity while it lasts, and, even when gorged with your venison and Burgundy, abuse the generous giver of the feast, I am sure I merit a good name and a high reputation: in Ireland, at least, where my generosity was unbounded, and the splendour of my mansion and entertainments unequalled by any other nobleman of my time. As long as my magnificence lasted, all the country was free to partake of it; I had hunters sufficient in my stables to mount a regiment of dragoons, and butts of wine in my cellar which would have made whole counties drunk for years. Castle Lyndon became the headquarters of scores of needy gentlemen, and I never rode a-hunting but I had a dozen young fellows of the best blood of the country riding as my squires and gentlemen of the horse. My son, little Castle Lyndon, was a prince; his breeding and manners, even at his early age, showed him to be worthy of the two noble families from whom he was descended: I don’t know what high hopes I had for the boy, and indulged in a thousand fond anticipations as to his future success and figure in the world. But stern Fate had determined that I should leave none of my race behind me, and ordained that I should finish my career, as I see it closing now — poor, lonely, and childless.

I may have had my faults; but no man shall dare to say of me that I was not a good and tender father.

I loved that boy passionately; perhaps with a blind partiality: I denied him nothing. Gladly, gladly, I swear, would I have died that his premature doom might have been averted.

I think there is not a day since I lost him but his bright face and beautiful smiles look down on me out of heaven, where he is, and that my heart does not yearn towards him. That sweet child was taken from me at the age of nine years, when he was full of beauty and promise: and so powerful is the hold his memory has of me that I have never been able to forget him; his little spirit haunts me of nights on my restless solitary pillow; many a time, in the wildest and maddest company, as the bottle is going round, and the song and laugh roaring about, I am thinking of him.

I have got a lock of his soft brown hair hanging round my breast now: it will accompany me to the dishonoured pauper’s grave; where soon, no doubt, Barry Lyndon’s worn-out old bones will be laid.

My Bryan was a boy of amazing high spirit (indeed how, coming from such a stock, could he be otherwise?), impatient even of my control, against which the dear little rogue would often rebel gallantly; how much more, then, of his mother’s and the women’s, whose attempts to direct him he would laugh to scorn. Even my own mother (‘Mrs. Barry of Lyndon’ the good soul now called herself, in compliment to my new family) was quite unable to check him; and hence you may fancy what a will he had of his own.

If it had not been for that, he might have lived to this day: he might — but why repine?

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