It is now many--do not ask me to say how many--years since I received from the Horse Guards the welcome intelligence that I was gazetted to an ensigncy in his Majesty's th Foot, and that my name, which had figured so long in the "Duke's" list, with the words "a very hard case" appended, should at length appear in the monthly record of promotions and appointments.
Since then my life has been passed in all the vicissitudes of war and peace. The camp and the bivouac--the reckless gaiety of the mess-table --the comfortless solitude of a French prison--the exciting turmoils of active service--the wearisome monotony of garrison duty, I have alike partaken of, and experienced.
Very few words of preface will suffice to the volume now presented to my readers. My intention was to depict, in the early experiences of a young Englishman in Ireland, some of the almost inevitable mistakes incidental to such a character. I had so often myself listened to so many absurd and exaggerated opinions on Irish character, formed on the very slightest acquaintance with the country, and by persons, too, who, with all the advantages long intimacy might confer, would still have been totally inadequate to the task of a rightful appreciation, that I deemed the subject one where a little "reprisal" might be justifiable.
While the great world, not very far off, busies itself with all the appliances of state and science, amusing its leisure by problems which, once on a time, would have been reserved for the studies of philosophers and sages, these poor creatures drag on an existence rather beneath than above the habits of savage life. Their dwellings, their food, their clothes, such as generations of their fathers possessed; and neither in their culture, their aspirations, nor their ways, advanced beyond what centuries back had seen them.
An eminent apothecary of my acquaintance once told me that at each increase to his family, he added ten per cent to the price of his drugs, and as his quiver was full of daughters, Blackdraught, when I knew him, was a more costly cordial than Curaçoa.
To apply this to my own case, I may mention that I had a daughter born to me about the time this story dates from, and not having at my command the same resource as my friend the chemist, I adopted the alternative of writing another story, to be published contemporaneously with that now appearing,--"The Daltons;" and not to incur the reproach so natural in criticism--of over-writing myself--I took care that the work should come out without a name.
In a little cleft, not deep enough to be a gorge, between two grassy hills, traversed by a clear stream, too small to be called a river, too wide to be a rivulet, stood, and, I believe, still stands, a little cottage, whose one bay-window elevates it above the condition of a laboring-man's, and shows in its spacious large-paned proportions pretensions to taste as well as station. From the window a coast-line can be seen to which nothing in the kingdom can find the equal. It takes in the bold curve of shore from the "White Rocks" to the Giant's Causeway,--a sweep of coast broken by jutting headland and promontory, with sandy bays nestling between gigantic walls of pillared rock, and showing beneath the green water the tessellated pavement of those broken shafts which our superstition calls Titanic.
The strangeness of some of the incidents, and the rapidity with which events so remarkable succeeded each other, almost deterred the writer from ever committing them to the press; nor was it till after much consultation, and some persuasive influence on the part of friends, that he at length yielded and decided upon so doing. Whether in that determination his choice was a wise one, must be left to the judgment of the reader; for himself, he has but to say that to ponder over some of these early scenes, and turn over, in thought, some of his youthful passages, has solaced many a weary hour of an age when men make few new friendships, and have almost as few opportunities to cultivate old ones.
"What happens when you bring a looney Irishmen into the British Army? Even more interesting, what happens when that army turns him loose on the French? Set during the Peninsular War, this is the rollicking story of an Irish dragoon, Charles O'Malley, and his equally uninhibited servant, Mickey Free. It is a mixture of riotous fun, humor, love-making, and military adventure; but it also shows the darker side of a very real, and very deadly, war."--Amazon.
You can read books purchased on Google Play using your computer's web browser.
eReaders and other devices
To read on e-ink devices like the Sony eReader or Barnes & Noble Nook, you'll need to download a file and transfer it to your device. Please follow the detailed Help center instructions to transfer the files to supported eReaders.