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“What a noble fellow,” said Lord Byron, after I had finished reading, “ was Lord Edward Fitzgerald, and what a romantic and singular history was his! If it were not too near our times, it would make the finest subject in the world for an historical Novel.”
Medwin's Conversations of Byron, p. 220.
To SIR John BRIDGworth, BART.
Banville, October 26, 1815.
You are no little astonished that one, not to say in robust health, should venture to cross the Irish Channel, at this advanced season, in a crazy, ill-found packet, and that my Belgic trip had not been quite enough for this year of 1815.
As I intend to acquaint you with the causes of this sudden excursion, I feel it will be necessary to give you some account of myself; all of my earlier history that you know is, that I am an Irishman, and I presume you suspect
an obscure one. In this conjecture you would be quite correct; but, without further preface, I will tell you my simple story :
I was born in the north of Ireland; my father was an honest miller, that is, conditionally, as any other of the trade; and my mother a hard-working, thrifty housewife: both were industrious, and, of course, the good man became wealthy. My infancy was unmarked by any thing of importance; and I remember my first fifteen years passed with all the sameness of the quiet river which rolled before our door, and the only events which gave me joy or sorrow, were those connected with the humblest scenes of life. My father and mother were ever grumbling about something; but still the neighbours said, no matter whose gear was dwindling away, that theirs was increasing. The kiln-fire was the rendezvous of all tatlers and newsmongers;