Page images


He went by chance as I heard say,
To that same house that very day,
In which his Godfather did dwell;
But mind what luck to him befell ;-

This child did crave a service there,
On which came out his Godfather,
And seeing him a pretty youth,
He took him for his page in truth.

Then in this place he pleased so well,
That 'bove the rest he bore the bell;
This child so well the Lord did please,
He raised him higher by degrees.

4. He made him Butler sure indeel, And then his Steward with all speed, Which made the other servants spite And envy him both day and night.

He was never false unto his trust,
But proved ever true and just;
And to the Lord did hourly pray
To guide him still both night and

In this place plainly it appears,
He lived the space of seven years ;
His parents then he thought upon,
And of his promise to return.

7. Then humbly of his Lord did crave, That he his free consent might have To go

and see his parents dear, He had not seen for many a year.

8. Then having leave, away he went, Not dreaming of the false intent That was contrived against him then, By wicked, false, deceitful men.

9. They had in his portmanteau put This noble Lord's fine golden cup; That when the Lord at dinner was, The cup was missed as come to pass.

10. “Where can it be?'' this Lord did say: “We had it here but yesterday." The Butler then replied with speed, * If you will hear the truth indeed,

11. “Your darling Steward which is gone, With feathered nest away is flown; I'll warrant you he has that, and more That doth belong unto your store.”

12. "No," says the Lord, " that cannot be, For I have tried his honesty;"' * Then," said the Cook, “my Lord, I die Upon a tree full ten feet high."

Then hearing what these men did say
He sent a messenger that day,
To take him with a hue and cry,
And bring him back immediately.

They searched his portmanteau with

In which they found the cup indeed;
Then was he struck with sad surprise,
He could not well believe his eyes.

The assizes then were drawing nigh,
And he was tried and doomed to die;
And his injured innocence
Could nothing say in his defence.

But going to the gallows tree,
On which he thought to hanged be,
He clapped his hands upon his breast,
And thus in tears these words exprest.

“Blind Fortune will be Fortune still,
I let man do what he will;
For though this day I needs must die,
I am not guilty—no, not I.”

18. This noble Lord was in amaze, He stood and did with wonder gaze; Then he spoke out with words so mild, "What mean you by that saying, child?"


[ocr errors]


23. " Will that your Lordship," then said he, “My child, my child, how blest am I! "Grant one day's full reprieve for me, Thou art innocent, and shalt not die; A dismal story I'll relate,

For I'm indeed thy Godfather, Concerning of my wretched fate." And thou wast born in fair Yorkshire. 20.

24. "Speak up my child," this Lord did say, I have indeed one daughter dear, " I say you shall not die this day; Which is indeed my only heir ; And if I find you innocent,

And I will give her unto thee, I'll crown your days with sweet content.” And crown you with felicity.” 21.

25. He told him all his dangers past,

So then the Butler and the Cook He had gone through from first to last; ('Twas them that stole the golden cup) He fetched the chain and cabinet, Confessed their faults immediately, Likewise the paper that was writ. And for it died deservedly. 22.

26. When that this Noble Lord did

see, This goodly youth, as I do hear, He ran to him most eagerly,

Thus raised, sent for his parents dear, Ind in his arms did him embrace, Who did rejoice their child to see, Repeating of those words in haste : And so I end my Tragedy.


LORD and Lady Altham, of Dunmain, in the county of Wexford, had been for many years married and childless, when, in the year 1715, their warmest hopes and wishes were realized by the birth of an heir to their estates and title. On that joyful evening the hospitality of the house of Dunmain was claimed by a young gentleman travelling from Dublin, named “Master Richard Fitzgerald,” who joined Lord Altham and his household in drinking the healths of the “lady in the straw," and the long expected heir, in the customary groaning drink. It does not appear that Master Fitzgerald was learned in astrology, or practised any branch of the “Black art,” or that he used any spell with reference to the infant more potent than these hearty libations and sincere good wishes for his future prosperity. Next day, before leaving the hospitable mansion, the little hero of this tale was presented to the stranger, who “kissed him, and gave the nurse half-a-guinea.”

Of Fitzgerald we have only to add, that he entered the army and became a distinguished officer in the service of the queen of Hungary, and that twenty-eight years afterwards he returned to Ireland to assist in recovering for his former infantile friend the estates and titles of his ancestors, which had been for many years iniquitously withheld from him.

Lord and Lady Altham lived unhappily together, and a separation took place soon after the birth of their son. Her Ladyship, shamefully neglected by her husband, resided in England during the remainder of her life, and from disease and poverty was reduced to a state of extreme imbecility both of body and mind.

James Annesley, the infant son of this unhappy mother, was entrusted, by Lord Altham, to the charge of a woman of

indifferent character, named Joan or Juggy Landy. Juggy was a dependent of the family, and lived in a cabin on the estate, about a quarter of a mile from the house of Dunmain. This hut is described as a “despicable place, without any furniture except a pot, two or three trenchers, a couple of straw beds on the floor,” and “with only a bush to draw in and out for a door.” Thus humbly and inauspiciously was the boy reared under the care of a nurse, who, however unfortunate or guilty, appears to have lavished upon her young charge the most affectionate attention. From some unexplained cause, however, Juggy Landy incurred the displeasure of Lord Altham, who took the boy from her, and ordered his groom“ to horsewhip her," and " to set the dogs upon her," when she persisted in hovering about the premises to obtain a sight of her former charge.

Lord Altham now removed with his son to Dublin, where he appears to have entered upon a career of the most dissipated and profligate conduct. We find him reduced to extreme pecuniary embarrassment, and his property became a prey to low and abandoned associates; one of whom, a Miss Kennedy, he ultimately endeavoured to introduce to society as his wife. This worthless woman must have obtained great ascendency over his Lordship, as she was enabled to drive James Annesley from his father's protection, and the poor boy became a houseless vagabond, wandering about the streets of Dublin, and procuring a scanty and precarious subsistence “by running of errands and holding gentlemen's horses."

Meanwhile Lord Altham's pecuniary difficulties had so increased as to induce him to endeavour to borrow money on his reversionary interest in the estates of the Earl of Anglesey, to whom he was heir-at-law. In this scheme he was joined by his brother Captain Annesley, and they jointly succeeded in procuring several small sums of money. But as James Annesley would have proved an important legal impediment to these transactions, he was represented to some parties to be dead; and where his existence could not be denied, he was asserted to be the natural son of his Lordship and of Juggy Landy.

Lord Altham died in the year 1727, “so miserably poor that he was actually buried at the public expense." His brother, Captain Annesley, attended the funeral as chief-mourner, and assumed the title of Baron Altham ; but when he claimed to have this title registered, he was refused by the king-at-arms, “ on account of his nephew being reported still alive, and for want of the honorary fees." Ultimately, however, by means which are stated to have been “ well known and obvious," he succeeded in procuring his registration.

But there was another and a more sincere mourner at the funeral of Lord Altham than the successful inheritor of his title :—a poor boy of twelve years of age, half naked, bareheaded and barefooted, and wearing, as the most important part of his dress, an old yellow livery waistcoat,* followed at a humble distance, and wept over his father's grave. Young Annesley was speedily recognised by his uncle, who forcibly drove him from the place, but not before the boy had made himself known to several old servants of his father, who were attending the corpse of their late lord to the tomb.

The usurper now commenced a series of attempts to obtain possession of his nephew's person, for the purpose of transporting him beyond seas, or otherwise ridding himself of so formidable a rival. For some time, however, these endeavours were frustrated, principally through the gallantry of a brave and kind-hearted butcher, named Purcel, who, having compassion upon the boy's destitute state, took him into his house and hospitably maintained him for a considerable time ; and on one occasion, when he was assailed by a numerous party of his uncle's emissaries, Purcel placed the boy between his legs, and stoutly defending him with his cudgel, resisted their utmost efforts, and succeeded in rescuing his young charge.

After having escaped from many attempts of the same kind, Annesley was at length kidnapped in the streets of Dublin, dragged by his uncle and a party of hired ruffians to a boat, and carried on board a vessel in the river, which immediately sailed with our hero for America, where, on his arrival, he was apprenticed as a plantation slave, and in this condition he remained for the succeeding thirteen years.

* Vide “Green Breeks” in the General Introduction to the Warerley Norels. Surely Yellow Waistcoat was his prototype.

« PreviousContinue »