Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/199

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185
THE MOTHER OF THE AUSTRALIAS.

he has received from Mr. Leslie Stephen the crowning honour of a place in the "Dictionary of National Biography." A native of Maynooth, County Kildare, Barrington's precocious talents gained him the favour and the patronage of a sympathetic clergyman, through whose interest he was placed in a boarding-school at Dublin. Here he remained until his sixteenth year, when, having been severely flogged for a violation of scholastic discipline, he ran away, after revenging himself by stealing twelve guineas from the master of the establishment and a gold repeater from that gentleman's sister. He turned his steps towards Drogheda, where he fell in with a company of strolling players, to whose ranks he became a welcome acquisition by reason of his handsome stage presence, and his marvellous memory. But the company got into financial difficulties at Londonderry, and Barrington resolved to replenish his empty purse by pocket-picking. He succeeded beyond his most sanguine anticipations, Cork and Dublin being his favourite and most lucrative fields of operation. Ireland becoming at length too hot to hold him, Barrington crossed the Channel and made his appearance in London fashionable society as a handsome young gentleman of good family, a character which he was naturally well qualified to play to the life. His ready assurance and his polished address enabled him to fraternise on the most familiar terms with noblemen and gentry, and to explore their well-lined pockets with an easy grace and a boundless self-confidence, that almost inspire a feeling of admiration at the perverted abilities of this accomplished adventurer. Once he actually attended a Royal reception, and succeeded in the difficult feat of cutting off the collar of an Order of the Garter, besides appropriating many snuff-boxes and purses from the