Reminiscences of a South African Pioneer

Biography & Autobiography/
#Biography & Autobiography #Literary
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Excerpt REMINISCENCES OF A SOUTH AFRICAN PIONEER Foreword—My father's family—"Old Body"—Dualla—A cruel experiment—"OldBody"—and the goose—Cook and kitchen-maid—Scull and monkey—My mother'sfamily—Abbey view—The Bock of Cashel—Captain Meagher and early chessSir Dominic Corrigan—"Old Mary" and the sugar—Naval ambitions—HarperTwelvetree and the burial agency I was born on the 29th of October, 1855; at least I have been told so, but the register of my baptism cannot be traced. This circumstance placed me in a somewhat awkward position a few years since, when proof of my age was urgently required. The place of my birth is a house in Upper Gardiner Street, Dublin then the home of my maternal uncle-by-marriage, Richard Scott. Evil days have since fallen upon that part of Ireland's metropolis; the locality is now inhabited by a class of people to whom we should in this country apply the term "poor whites." When I recently visited the spot I found that the house had, like most of those in the vicinity, been divided into tenements. The upper portion of what had once been a frosted-glass partition was still in the hall, and on this my uncle's crest was visible. The premises were in a filthy condition, and the inhabitants looked more than ordinarily villainous. On the steps a red-faced crone sat pulling at a clay pipe, and a reek of stale porter came through the hall doorway. My father's family, I am told, have been located in the County Tipperary for many generations. I believe they made a great deal of money as contractors to the army of King William in the campaign of which the Battle of the Boyne was the decisive event, but the greater part of this they dissipated about a century ago in lawsuits. I have heard that the costs in one case they lost amounted to over 100,000. The little I know of the family, has been told me by dear old Sir William Butler, with whom I became very intimate when he was in South Africa. He always said we were related that we were "Irish cousins" but we never were quite able to define what the relationship was. Sir William and Ray, father had been great friends in the old days. I have been told by, a relative that the many, Scullys who are scattered over the south of Ireland fall into two categories the round-headed and the long-headed; that the former are, as a rule, fairly well off, but that the latter are usually poor. I regret to say that I belong to the long-headed branch. My paternal grandfather was a soldier, and my father was brought up by Rodolph Scully, of Dualla. "Old Rody," who kept a pack of harriers which my father hunted, was a well-known character in South Tipperary. He departed this life when I was about six years old yet I seem to remember him very clearly. A small, wiry, dapper man with a clean-shaven red face, a cold, light-blue eye and fiercely beetling brows, he occasionally filled my early childhood with terror. He usually wore knee-breeches, buckled shoes, a frieze coat, and a white choker. He had a most furious temper, and was consequently dreaded by his relations and his domestics....
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