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“My good Sir,” answered the Admiral, "how could you suppose such a thing ?”
“Oh, I supposed no such thing, my dear fellow, I only want to know who it was that dropped the black balls in by accident, as it were."
Fitzgerald now went up to each individual member, and put the same question seriatim, “Did you blackball me, Sur?” until he made the round of the whole club; and it may well be supposed, that in every case he obtained similar answers to that of the Admiral. When he had finished his inquisition, he thus addresscd the whole body, who preserved as dead and dread a silence as the urchins at a parish school do on a Saturday, when the pedagogue orders half a score of them to be horsed for neglecting their catechism, which they have to repeat to the parson on Sunday :
-You see, gentlemen, that as none of ye have black-balled me, I must be chose; and it is Misthur Brookes that has made the mistake. But I was convinced of it from the beginning, and I am only sorry that so much time has been lost as to prevent honourable gentlemen from enjoying cach other's good company sooner. Waither!-come here you rusķal, and bring me a bottle of champaigne, till I drink long life to the club, and wish them joy of their unanimous election of a rael gentleman by father and mother, and" This part of Fitzgerald's address excited the risible muscles of every one present, but he soon restored them to their foriner lugubrious position, by casting around him a ferocious look, and saying in a voice of thunder, Land who never missed his man.!--Go for the champaigne, Waither; and d’ye hear, Sur, tell your Masthur, Misthur Brookes that is, not to make any
more mistakes about black balls ; for though it is below a gentleman to call him out, I will find other manes of giving him a bagfull of broken bones !”
The members now saw that there was nothing for it but to send the intruder to Coventry, which they appeared to do by tacit agreement; for, when Admiral Stewart departed, which he did almost immediately, Mr. Fitzgerald found himself completely cut by all “his dear friends." The gentlemen now formed themselves into groups at the several whist tables ; and no one chose to reply to his observations, nor to return even a nod to the toasts and healths which he drank whilst discussing three bottles of the sparkling liquor, which the terrified waiter placed before him, in succession. At length, finding that no one would communicate with him in either kind,-either for drinking or for fighting, --he arose, and making a low bow, took his leave as follows :
“Gentlemen, I bid you all good night ; I am very glad to find ye so sociable ; I'll take care to come earlier next night, and we 'll have a little more of it, plase G-d.”
The departure of this bully was a great relief to every one present; for, the restraint caused by his vapouring and insolent behaviour was most intolerable. The conversation immediately became general, and it was unanimously agreed that half a dozen stout constables should be in waiting the next evening to lay him by the heels and bear him off to the watch-house, if he attempted again to intrude. Of some such measure Fitzgerald seemed to be aware, for he never showed himself at Brookes's again, though he boasted eve
ry where that he had been unanimously chosen a member of the club!
The writer trusts that none of his readers are impressed with the idea, that want of personal courage on the part of any member, contributed in the smallest degree to prevent Fitzgerald from being kicked out of a society into which he had so unwarrantably thrust himself: more particularly when he considers that the whole affair was so eccentric as to create mirth rather than a desire to inflict chastisement; and that many, particularly the junior members, had no small curiosity to witness the termination of an adventure so impudently and so ludicrously carried on. But, these considerations apart, it is not to be supposed that men whose courage, on ordinary occasions, might easily be “screwed up to the sticking point,” should be very ready, as Admiral Stewart expressed it, “ to risk their lives against that of a madman.” Moreover, in addition to the well-founded and rational dislike which many men have to duelling, family considerations, and a natural love of life, were sufficient to deter any man of sense from encountering the fighting Fitzgerald, either with sword or pistol ; for, being a really good swordsman and marksman, and being accounted almost invulnerable in his own person, the result of a combat with him ceased to be an affair of chance, but amounted to a dead certainty. Is it surprising then, that no gentleman should have had the hardihood to espouse the cause of all, by throwing away his own life on the desperate chance of overcoming a professed bully?
Those readers who are not aware of other particulars in Mr. Fitzgerald's history, will express their won
der at his extraordinary success as a duellist ; and that too, not so much from his prowess, as that he should so constantly have escaped, almost without a hurt!~Could this enigma have been explained in the early part of his career, his name would not have conveyed so much terror to the hearts of those who had the misfortune to fall into his company.
George Robert Fitzgerald has been compared to Lord Camelford; but there is no possible resemblance, for though the latter fought several duels, it is well known that he generally had sufficient provocation, and that he received many insults which he never thought worthy of public notice : in short, his general deportment was mild, and he never sought a quarrel ; for which Fitzgerald was on the constant look-out. Camelford, likewise, had a most generous heart; for, whilst the attention of the fashionable world was taken up with his eccentricities, he was in the habit of
performing many private charitable acts among those of the poor
who were ashamed to beg. His charities were invariably administered under an assumed name; and he never failed to threaten those whose curiosity he suspected, with a suspension of their salary, if they dared to follow him, or tried to find out who their benefactor was.
He usually went on such expeditions at night; and he has often left a crowded and brilliant assembly, to dress himself in an old brown coat and slouched hat, in order to visit some poor family in the crowded courts between Drury Lane and Charing Cross. In such deeds as these, and at an expense of several thousands a year, did this unaffected philanthropist pass the hours which he stole from the dissipation of high life ; and his protegées were not aware of the name or quality of their benefactor, until his untimely fate put a period to his munificent donations.
That Mr. Fitzgerald (unlike his countrymen, gen. erally,) was totally devoid of generosity, no one who ever knew him will doubt ; therefore, there is no point of resemblance between him and the nobleman above mentioned-not even in the mode of meeting his antagonist.–Camelford came into the field with all parts of his person equally exposed, and really braved death: -indeed it is an insult to his memory, to mention them together. Fitzgerald on all such occasions had his chest, &c. cased in a steel cuirass, as the following circumstance will prove :-it will at the same time sufficiently account for his extraordinary success.
He once provoked a gentleman, (Major Cunning ham, an old friend of the writer's,) to fight him. The weapon agreed on was the small sword ; and both parties, for some time, appeared to be well-matched : at length, a judiciously aimed thrust at Fitzgerald's breast would have laid him upon the turf, had not the Major's sword bent round and snapped in two, near the middle, owing to the point striking forcibly against a polished hard surface. Enraged at such a dishonourable and cowardly resource, Cunningham pulled off his hat, and Ainging it with all his might in Fitzgerald's face, exclaimed, “You infernal rascal !_so, this is the way in which you have been enabled to overcome so many brave men : but I shall take care that you fight no more duels ! Cowardly dog!” As he uttered the last words, he rushed towards him, in order to despatch him with the remaining part of the sword which he still held in his hand ; but Fitzgerald