Bardon Music > Books > Bob Norberry

Bob Norberry

or Sketches from the Note Book of an Irish Reporter


John Levey

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ISBN-13/EAN: 978-1-902222-09-7
ISBN-10: 1-902222-09-1
Title: Bob Norberry
Author: John Levey
Price: £47.95
Description: This is a tale of life in Ireland in the early 19th century. It involves unscrupulous lawyers, duels and lost heirs.
Pages: ix 374
Availability: Amazon Kindle E-Book
Format: Hard Back (Library Quality Cloth) A5
Illustrations: 14 b&w
Published: 1999
Language: English
Publisher: Bardon Enterprises



About sixteen or seventeen years before the act of legislative union between Great Britain and Ireland had passed, and when the west end of Dublin was the seat of commerce, wealth, and industry, there resid=978-1-902222-09-7&ed in an antiquated mansion in the neighbourhood of James’s-street, the remains of which are still standing, a wealthy old miser named Nipper Norberry of very retired and eccentric habits. His resid=978-1-902222-09-7&ence was one of these tile-covered pent-house dwellings, which formed the general class of private buildings in this city something above two centuries ago ; and he was more attached to it for the sake of old associations, than any comfort or accommodation it afforded. His father before him had made a fortune in the place, which he like a wise and prudent son had consid=978-1-902222-09-7&erably increased, and having no fancy for princely mansions in one of the squares, (in truth there were few of them built at the time,) he continued to abid=978-1-902222-09-7&e there, enjoying more satisfaction in the accumulation of wealth than others find in spending it. The liberties of Dublin, which are now a mass of ruins and dilapid=978-1-902222-09-7&ated houses, inhabited by squalid=978-1-902222-09-7&, famished-looking mortals, who would seem to be denied a resting place in any other spot under heaven, were at that time inhabited by merchants and citizens of good estate. Then the hum of industry was heard on all sid=978-1-902222-09-7&es, and although machinery was not brought to any great degree of perfection, still every hand was employed, and the fabric produced was at least as durable and of more intrinsic value than any thing similar in modern times. The fly-shuttle and the handlooms were at work in the lower apartments of almost every building, and the silk throwsters and spinners were employed in the upper stories. Every dwelling was a little manufactory, where the artisan worked in his own abode, assisted and cheered on by the presence of a happy wife and family : he was then more moral and more healthy than the inmates of the great English factories of the present day, and his condition in life was infinitely superior. High-street, Thomas-street, Francis-street, James’s-street, and all that part of the city west of Dublin Castle, was then a busy scene of active industry ; and here did=978-1-902222-09-7& the ancestors of many noble houses and peers of the present day amass that wealth, as successful traders, which purchased honours and | Books | John Levey | Bob Norberrys for their posterity.

Amongst those quiet and prosperous citizens then occupying this district, lived our wealthy merchant, in the same house which had been occupied by his ancestors for some generations previously. If any one asked where Mr. Norberry lived, his next door neighbour, except he happened to be long resid=978-1-902222-09-7&ent in the place, could not tell, as he was generally designated “Old Hawk.” After having retired from the more active pursuits of mercantile life, he took to lending money and discounting bills, which was then a very profitable trade, as the present legal facility for the payment of debts did=978-1-902222-09-7& not exist, and bankruptcies and failures in trade were of very rare occurrence. In this occupation, still adding to his wealth, he remained unmarried for many years, his household consisting all the time of an old woman named Shue Shaugness, or, as she would say herself when speaking of her own respectability and her family connections in the county Limerick, “Judith O’Shaugnessey ;” a servant man called blind Tim ; and a kind of clerk, who went backwards and forwards to the banks of Sir George Coldbrooke and Company in Mary’s-abbey, and Dawson and Coates in Thomas-street, where his employer made lodgments and did=978-1-902222-09-7& other business in the banking line. Blind Tim lived on board wages, and slept on a stable loft which was attached to a warehouse on the other sid=978-1-902222-09-7&e of the street ; and old Shue was allowed three testers a week to get her dinner, and had the privilege of the master’s tea-pot, with a round of the loaf every morning when he had breakfasted. He dined every day at a tavern, and paid=978-1-902222-09-7& in proportion to the quantity and quality of the viands consumed. The clerk had a small salary, and lodged in the house of a comb-maker opposite, where he was always within call or under his master’s eye. Blind Tim’s business was to take care of a pair of horses, each as old as himself ; and to drive his master through town in an old chaise, which he had taken from a coach-maker in payment of a bad debt. There are many Citizens still living who remember the equibooks.php of Old Hawk, amongst whom might be mentioned a venerable alderman, who was then a handsome young lad, and in some way connected with the Norberry family, although Old Hawk held him in the greatest contempt as a coxcomb that would never rise in the world, but his predictions in this respect were falsified. The horses were originally black, but had grown grey from age ; the solitary occupant of the old coach was in perfect keeping with the driver and horses, and on the whole it might be said=978-1-902222-09-7& that a more suitably appointed "turn out" had been seldom seen in the fair city of Dublin. The tradesmen at work in the Liberty, and the very children in the streets, knew the ramble of Old Hawk’s shandredan, as he drove about collecting his interest money, and the rents of various houses in that quarter of the town of which he was the owner. Such is a short outline of the household arrangements and manner of living of Old Hawk until he was nearly sixty years of age, when he took it into his head to marry.

The social philosophy contained in the aphorism, "Tell me what sort a man’s wife is and I will tell you the life he led," has more wisdom in it than can be at once comprehended ; and it is a remarkable fact, capable of proof amongst us in every-day life, that misers, money hunters, and men of lax morals, whether in high or low society, hardly ever form respectable matrimonial alliances. Whilst young, the sordid=978-1-902222-09-7& and avaricious will not wed with women of equal rank and fortune, the love of money still prompting them to enter upon fresh speculations which end in disappointment. The man who is not guid=978-1-902222-09-7&ed by strict morality cannot appreciate female virtue, or the endearments of the domus et placens uxor, and hence both are found either in the ranks of old bachelors, or they make matches in after life which seem to be a penalty upon the faults of their early days. An old bachelor is, notwithstanding, sagacious enough to know that any young woman of equal rank who marries him, does so for the sake of spending his money, or in hope of being shortly honoured with the attractive appellation of "the rich wid=978-1-902222-09-7&ow." The miser knows, too, a marriage of this Bob Norberry by John Levey would consid=978-1-902222-09-7&erably increase his expenses, and hence it is, that the matrimonial alliances of such men are, generally speaking, made with women who are content to act in the double capacity of servant and wife.

Old Hawk, when nearly sixty, began to entertain serious notions of matrimony, and a circumstance occurred which hurried him to the fulfilment of his intentions. One day that he had been more than usually successful in his money speculations, he dined according to custom at his tavern, but having staid=978-1-902222-09-7& out late, blind Tim went to bring him home ; he had drank rather freely, and when Tim arrived at the "Ram" in Aungier-street he found the landlord on the point of sending a messenger to Allen’s livery stables and carriage yard in Lazor’s-hill, for a chariot to convey Old Hawk to his resid=978-1-902222-09-7&ence in James’s-street, he being supposed unable to keep his perpendicular even by the assistance of the watchmen, who, in the good old times, before "teetotalism" was thought of, were in the habit of conveying drunken people from one station to another until arrived at their own home. This, by the way, was often a very lucrative employment to these trusty guardians of the night, who generally eased the pockets of their protegees of any loose money or watches with which they might be encumbered. To tell the truth of Old Hawk, he had never before been qualified to receive the protection of the Dublin watchmen, who were constantly in the habit of visiting his tavern, as well as others, at a late hour of the night, to know if there were any drunken gentlemen to be brought home, to whom they were always ready and willing to act as guardians and conductors.

On the night in question, two of those professional gentlemen had made a tour of inspection through all the sitting-rooms at the "Ram," with the view of ascertaining who would require their services, when, to their infinite joy, they discovered Old Hawk, amongst others, a fit subject upon which to exercise their philanthropic intentions. A golden world opened before them : he was rich beyond bounds ; it was a long journey from the "Ram" in Aungier-street to his resid=978-1-902222-09-7&ence in James’s-street, and all the "gentlemen" along the whole line, amongst whom the most perfect sentiment of sympathy and unity of purpose existed, would have at least paid=978-1-902222-09-7& themselves well for their trouble in conveying him home. The two officious worthies, who thus offered their services, told Tom Fogarty, the landlord of the "Ram," to give the old gentleman another "go," and he would be just fit to travel ; they thought he was not sober enough to walk home him-self, nor drunk enough to be quiet, so that unless he got a little more they apprehended they would have consid=978-1-902222-09-7&erable trouble with him. Fogarty was an honest Munster man, who had made a little money by his calling, and had the reputation of treating his customers fairly and dealing honestly with the world ; he refused to allow the watchmen to interfere at all, and had proposed, as already stated, to send to Allen’s for a chariot to convey Old Hawk and himself to James’s-street, for he intended leaving him safe and sound under his own roof. The professional gentlemen were deeply chagrined at this unexpected interference in a matter so much connected with their own interests, and they told Fogarty he might mark the consequences of his imprudence ; he ought to know the influence they had with Recorder Bradstreet and all the magistrates ; they never "reported" his house, although that might often have been done, but if he did=978-1-902222-09-7& not allow them to mind their own affairs they would open a new leaf ; and send the bog-trotter back to Munster among the rebels, instead of allowing him to make money like a gentleman in the loyal city of Dublin. Fogarty was inexorable to their threats and entreaties, and the messenger was just going off for the chariot when blind Tim arrived, and the guardians of the night were obliged to depart, disappointed in their expectations, and vowing vengeance on the honest tavern-keeper. In the mean time he who formed the subject of their discussion had sufficiently recovered from the effects of the brandy punch which he had taken, to understand the nature of the conversation, and to appreciate the honest intentions of his worthy host ; then the arrival of his faithful servant, who for upwards of thirty years had never seen him affected by intoxicating drink, seemed to act upon him like a galvanic battery, and he started from his seat with a vigour which astonished all the spectators.

"I have heard," said=978-1-902222-09-7& Old Hawk, "all that passed whilst these robbers, who are a disgrace to our city, were endeavouring to get me into their clutches, and I shall no longer hesitate in the prosecution of a purpose which has long occupied my mind, but which I have never yet had the resolution to avow : you (looking at Fogarty) shall hear very soon what it is I have in contemplation ; there is perhaps no other man in existence who can so materially assist in the accomplishment of my project, and I am sure you will the more readily lend your aid=978-1-902222-09-7& when you find that what I intend to do will be of advantage to yourself ; but there is one barrier which must of course be removed before every thing can be finally accomplished."

Fogarty replied, that there was nothing in his power that he would not do to make Mr. Norberry happy, for he had been greatly honoured by the patronage which he bestowed on his house so long, as well as for the many friends whom he had recommended there.

Whilst this conversation was going on the chariot which was to take Old Hawk home arrived at the door of the "Ram," and blind Tim proposed conveying his master thither without any further delay ; but his proposal was interrupted by an inquiry from the latter of "What is the hour?"

The landlord replied, "Five minutes after twelve."

”Right” said=978-1-902222-09-7& Old Hawk ; “it was not twelve when the chariot was ordered at Allen’s, and I will therefore only have to pay ‘day fare’ for it.”

It may be here stated, that in these good old times the price of a chariot for an hour if engaged before twelve o’clock at night was only a shilling, but between that and six o’clock in the morning the fare was one and six pence, and the worthy old gentleman was anxious that he should have the benefit of an engagement made one minute before that hour, being thereby enabled to save sixpence. The charioteer interfered by saying he admitted it was a minute or two before twelve when the order came, but the clock had struck before he had "turned out," and he was therefore en | Books | John Levey | Bob Norberryd to night fare. A rejoinder from Old Hawk followed, accompanied by a recommendation from the landlord to compromise the matter, as it seemed to involve a point of law, and after some controversy it was agreed that the contending parties should split the difference between them, and leave the sum to be paid=978-1-902222-09-7& one and threepence, instead of one and sixpence. Tim and his master entered the chariot, and on their arrival at home he seemed to have become perfectly sober.

They discharged their charioteer, and entered their cheerless dwelling, which gave no signs of life, except the chirping of a swarm of crickets, which occupied the ground floor when all other company were absent. Old Shue had gone to bed, the fire was out, and blind Tim was obliged to go to a neighbouring watch-house to light a candle. On his return, Old Hawk took him into the parlour, which served the treble purpose of office, bed-room, and sitting-room ; near the window was a strong oak desk with an iron railing round it, opposite which was a safe built into the wall ; at the other end was a cupboard or press which served to hold the scanty viands and table ware with which the house was supplied ; behind the door was a huge clock in an oaken case as large as a sentry box, which had stood there for a couple of generations, and whose loud and healthy stroke gave promise that it would continue to vibrate long after many a human heart, bent on worldly gain, and fraught with plans calculated to oppress or deceive their fellow-man, had mouldered into dust. In another part of the room was a press-bed, which turned up into a niche in the wall ; there were a few oak chairs and two small tables of the same material, which completed the entire furniture of Old Hawk’s state apartment.

When Tim entered with the candle, his master sent him in search of old Shue’s firewood, and after lighting a fire he sat down, and they drew their chairs together. There are moments when the man who makes himself the outcast of society by his inordinate thirst for gold, and the sordid=978-1-902222-09-7& practices which he adopts in pursuit of it, feels that he is alone in the world, and that amongst the sons of men there is hardly one with whom he can reciprocate one kindly feeling, or in whom he can confid=978-1-902222-09-7&e either in the hour of success or of sorrow ; and that if there be one such friend, it is an old and faithful servant, who has entered into the feelings of his master, and becomes reconciled to his habits and his eccentricities. Tim was one of these faithful domestics, whose nature it was to be attached to any person or thing with which he was connected, and was, in point of fact, as fond of the old horses as he was of his master, and any esteem he might have to spare for a third object was given to old Shue. He was paid=978-1-902222-09-7& his board wages to the hour, and his standing wages was put to interest, which was paid=978-1-902222-09-7& quarterly and added to the principal, so that by careful management, under the direction of his master, he had amassed some money. The master was, besid=978-1-902222-09-7&es, naturally quiet in his disposition, and never found fault with any thing, provid=978-1-902222-09-7&ed he was successful in his money getting pursuits which was most generally the case ; so that Tim’s situation was, after all, as agreeable as that of a man serving a | Books | John Levey | Bob Norberryd master with a splendid=978-1-902222-09-7& equibooks.php and a numerous retinue of servants. There was therefore a reciprocity of feeling between them, that, alas! seldom exists between master and servant.

"Tim," said=978-1-902222-09-7& Old Hawk, as the billets of wood that had been lighted blazed up briskly, "hand me the bottle of wine that is in the safe ; I was made a present of a dozen by Mr. Jolly, for whom I cashed a small bill ; we will take a glass before we go to rest : I want to tell you something of my great success to-day, and of my future intentions and prospects."

Tim complied, and, having uncorked the bottle, sat down opposite his master : the wood fire burned cheerfully in the rusty grate, and gave an appearance of comfort to the apartment which it had rarely worn.

"Tim," continued Old Hawk, "put out that candle, the fire blazes so prettily that I think the candle light only spoils the effect of it ; and besid=978-1-902222-09-7&es, conversation is always pleasanter by a cheerful fire than if the room was completely illuminated."

"Why," said=978-1-902222-09-7& Tim, "that’s just what I was thinking, and I was really going to put it out before you spoke."

"Ah," replied the master, "you are just what I always found yon to be, a faithful and consid=978-1-902222-09-7&erate servant ; I could hardly have got on in this world and these hard times without such a friend, and in return for your fid=978-1-902222-09-7&elity I will tell you a good deal about my affairs."

"Very well," said=978-1-902222-09-7& Tim, "nothing can give me greater satisfaction than to hear about my master and all that concerns him. I have no other friend after all but you, and I would be the most ungrateful man upon earth if I did=978-1-902222-09-7& not take great interest in your success."

Old Hawk then proceeded : "Yes, Tim, I tell you, that I know what you say is true, and you being worthy of my confid=978-1-902222-09-7&ence I have now to inform you that I am about being married, that is, I have made up my mind about the matter, and I hope you shall in a few days have a mistress ; but let me tell you first what I have done this day, or rather what good fortune has befallen me. Whilst I was in the bank this morning I heard the glorious news that the father of young Lord Flareaway, from whom I got the post obit about ten days ago, had just dropped dead in a fit of apoplexy ; he had been one of a large dinner party at Bishop Bloater’s, and spoiled the fun and feeding by dropping dead at the dinner table before the feast was more than half over. I got a post obit for ten thousand, and all I gave the young rake was two thousand ; he had, besid=978-1-902222-09-7&es, to pay Gripe the attorney a thumping bill of costs. And, by the way, that Gripe is a villain that must be closely watched ; he was to have given me half the profits on the young lord’s bill of costs, and I have good reason to think that he cheated me out of a portion of it, but the truth will come out when I am calling in the post obit, which will be now in a few days. Only think of two thousand paid=978-1-902222-09-7& away ten days ago, bringing in five times the amount now! Provid=978-1-902222-09-7&ence always favours the honest, saving, industrious man ; but sure if we did=978-1-902222-09-7& not get an odd lift of that kind we could never get on these hard times. I knew when I got the post obit that the old lord was such a drunkard and glutton that he could not live for any time, but it was the goodness of God that brought him home so soon. I calculated upon two or three years ; only think of ten days! Come, Tim, fill your glass, and we will drink success to all post obit transactions."

Tim filled the glass, and said=978-1-902222-09-7&, "I don’t exactly understand the meaning of these words, but what would you think, sir, if we drink to the memory of old Lord Flareaway?"

"A capital id=978-1-902222-09-7&ea," said=978-1-902222-09-7& Old Hawk, as he poured out a glass of good brown sherry, "let the toast then be, the memory of Lord Flareaway, and may all lords whose heirs owe honest men money soon meet the same fate."

"I say the same," replied Tim, and both swallowed off their wine.

"Now listen to me for a moment," said=978-1-902222-09-7& Old Hawk, "whilst I tell you what I am about to do, and ask your advice upon the subject. I know the change I am about to make is a very important one, and will add a great deal to our expense ; but if we expend in one way we can curtail in another, and I know that you will give me all the assistance in your power.

Tim replied, that much would depend upon the sort of mistress he would get, and added, that he was most impatient to hear her name.

"That," continued his master, "you shall hear presently, and if I mistake not you will approve of her as a person who will not expect too much. I have long thought of the matter, but the occurrences of this night have decid=978-1-902222-09-7&ed me : Fogarty is an honest man, and I will have his daughter Kate in marriage ; she is a saving, proper young woman, who will be a good wife. I was in her father’s house sometime ago, when I heard her say that if she were a penny short of a hundred pounds she would not be any longer able to pay that sum, and that it was the pennies saved more than the pennies earned that made the money. Now to hear such wisdom from the mouth of a girl so young is rare in this age of extravagance and folly, and if I don’t mistake much, the daughter of Fogarty is worthy of being united to the Norberry family ; but this brother of mine, who has such high notions, and whose son is now in college, will not consent to the alliance, and will do all in his power to prevent it, more particularly as he expects to get all my money, but I will disappoint these expectants. Gripe, the villain, will be also disappointed in the accomplishment of certain plans he had laid=978-1-902222-09-7& for my ruin. You know he is attorney to that broken down spendthrift Colonel Dilkes, who has for many years been living upon the money of other people, and keeping up appearances of splendor, regardless as to who will suffer in the end ; he has a daughter who has been forgotten by the world, although she has been all her life accustomed to go into what is called high society, and only think of Gripe proposing to me to marry her, with the view, no doubt, of her father and family laying hold of my hard earned money ; but I shall disappoint them all : why, it would ruin a man, no matter what money he might have, to support a wife accustomed to such extravagance. It won’t do, Tim, it won’t do and Gripe shan’t pocket the poundage upon a settlement on the daughter of old Dilkes. Fill again ; here’s ‘Kate Fogarty of the Ram.’"

"Kate Fogarty of the Ram," echoed Tim, and both again quaffed their wine. "I approve highly of your choice," said=978-1-902222-09-7& the old servant, "I would like the beautiful creature for a mistress ; but, master, you are too old to marry so young a woman, and you know, besid=978-1-902222-09-7&es, that you should have her consent : has that been yet obtained?"

"No," said=978-1-902222-09-7& his master, "I have not yet spoken on the subject to herself or her father, for it was only this night I came finally to the conclusion of making her my wife. There can be no disappointment in the matter ; only think of the honour that will be done to Fogarty the inn-keeper, by an alliance with the Norberry family, and the certainty that she will have all my wealth after my death. The thing is quite certain. Kate Fogarty the bar-maid=978-1-902222-09-7& at the ‘Ram’ transformed into Mrs. Norberry! the thing is too tempting, there can be no disappointment ; and lest any fatality should occur, I will propose the matter to-morrow to the young woman and her father, but it must be kept a secret for some time ; Gripe must be kept in ignorance of every thing, the post obit shall be called in, and my papers taken out of his hands, before it is spoken of ; but what is to be done with old Shue?"

"Why, of course," said=978-1-902222-09-7& Tim, "she will be a faithful servant to you and the mistress, as she has been to yourself ; and as you must have one, you would not think of putting her away."

"I don’t know how that may be yet ; might I not as well marry the old Colonel’s daughter, or some one like her, if I were to have servants to attend her. I think Kate Fogarty, even when she becomes Mrs. Norberry, will not be above her own business, and that we can live very comfortably without the expense of a servant."

"I am sure, master," said=978-1-902222-09-7& Tim, "that that will be matter for future arrangement, and I can tell you from experience, that your opinions with regard to the management of your affairs will be greatly changed by marriage. I was a very young man when I married Nancy Cassid=978-1-902222-09-7&y ; poor thing, she died after giving birth to a son in little more than a year after our union ; and, in plain truth I must tell you, master, that it cost me more that year than for any other five years of my existence ; I loved the poor creature, and in honour of her memory I never thought of marriage again. It is now nearly thirty years since I came to your father’s house, and I believe you have always found me a faithful servant ; the loss of my dear wife would have reconciled me to a fate much more unpleasant than to serve you."

"Oh," said=978-1-902222-09-7& Old Hawk, "you alarm me about the expense ; why, if the wife had lived you should have been ruined."

"I forgot to add," replied Tim, "that some way or other my means more than increased in a comparative degree with my expenses ; and I do believe, had God spared me my wife, I would have been better off in the world than I am, although I might have more care.

"Why that is consoling," rejoined the master, "and I think it is now time that we should retire to rest. I feel that new scenes of an extraordinary character are before me ; that even in my old days I shall be blessed with a good wife, and if I had one son to inherit my wealth I would die happy. To-morrow Kate Fogarty, the handsome daughter of the honest landlord of the ‘Ram,’ shall be honoured by a proposal of marriage from the head of the Norberry family, and Gripe, the Colonel, my brother, and the clan belonging to his haughty wife, shall be disappointed. Good night, Tim ; not a word about this matter until it is all complete ; above all, old Shue is not to hear it, I know that a woman cannot keep a secret."

Tim finished his glass of wine, and having stirred up the fire-wood in the grate, with a view to cast sufficient light about the apartment to enable his master to see the way to bed, he withdrew by a narrow passage which led to the rear of the house to take his repose on the stable loft.

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