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PERIOD A.D. 1800-1880.


BORN 1806- DIED 1872.

[Charles Lever belongs to the class of authors whom readers regard with a personal love. The kindness of heart, the sunniness of temper, the high spirit, and pure feeling that are found in his books naturally suggest the idea that the author himself possessed the virtues he portrayed; and the assumption is correct. Charles Lever was, indeed, like one of those Irish gentlemen whom his pen has made as familiar figures to us as beings of real life; and his character and career were, like theirs, full of light and shade, of virtues and foibles. His generosity often degenerated into recklessness and display; he did an immense deal of work, but his work was desultory, and often careless; and a stout heart occasionally broke down, and a sanguine temperament turned to despair, before small obstacles and trifling sorrows. But, take him with all his faults, Lever was a true man-a true Irish- | It is said, for instance, that he displayed a wonman; proud, courageous, high-minded; a faith-derful power of story-telling; that he had a ful husband, a devoted father, an affectionate strong inclination for getting up amateur and friend, and a passionate lover of his country Lilliputian theatricals; and there is a taleand countrymen. which is, we fear, apocryphal of his having, while still a boy, confounded and convinced a police magistrate who was inquiring into the circumstances of a school-fight. In the October of 1822 he entered Trinity College, not having yet reached his seventeenth year. His course was undistinguished so far as letters went; but he acquired distinction of another kind. Robust in health, stout of frame, and joyous in temperament, he naturally joined in the wild fun that the gay young student loves; drank, stopped up o' nights, drove furiously, rode madly, played jokes on the dons, sang

but with the melancholy echoes of officials or tourists. When the Bank of Ireland, too, was removed from Mary's Abbey to the seat of the old Parliament in College Green, Lever officiated as clerk of the works while the necessary alterations were being made. He was also engaged in building the new college at Maynooth. In 1795 he married Julia, daughter of Mathew Chandler, and descendant of an old Cromwellian family. The issue of this marriage were two sons-James, born in 1796, and Charles James, who first saw the light ten years later, namely, on August 31, 1806. Charles went to various schools before he was ripe for Trinity College, and numerous stories are, of course, told to show that, like so many other great men, he gave indications of future greatness while learning the three R's, and graduating in the pains and penalties of the birch.

Curiously enough, this singularly Celtic character was only half Irish. His father, James Lever, was an Englishman, and the descendant of an old Lancashire family. Emigrating to Ireland James Lever found his nationality a considerable recommendation to the government of the day: for those were the times when, in the words of the old song, ""Twas treason to be a Milesian." He was a carpenter and builder by trade, and he obtained profitable employment in erecting the spacious Custom House, whose lofty halls now resound, not with the joyful voice of bustling trade, | ballads in the streets, and did all the other



wild things which are chronicled in his earlier | Brennan" in the former, and "Father Tom works. Before he had completed his medical Loftus" in the latter, are both drawn from studies he went on a trip to America, and if two Roman Catholic clergymen with whom all that tradition says be correct, passed a Lever at this period came in contact; and very adventurous time there. It is said, not only the priests themselves, but some of among other things, that he went among the their ecclesiastical superiors and friends, were Red Indians, adopted their dress and customs, rather annoyed at the somewhat unclerical and became so indispensable to them that he freedom of manners with which they were had finally to make his escape by stratagem credited. The next scene of his medical laand at great risk to his life. Several of his bours was Portstewart, where he practised as tales certainly notably O'Leary-contain ac- dispensary doctor, holding at the same time counts of life among the Indians, which are an appointment in connection with a hospital full of striking adventures and apparently at Derry. While thus occupied he made the faithful to life; and an intimate friend of acquaintance of W. H. Maxwell, who, perhaps, Lever's quotes a statement of his to the effect more than any other man, influenced him in that he walked through the streets of Quebec entering upon a literary career. It was while "in the mocassins, and with the head feathers." he was in Portstewart also that he married. He also in those early years took a tour on The story of Lever's love and conjugal life is the Continent, and studied medicine for some in itself a touching romance, and one of the time at the university of Göttingen. He spent finest traits in his whole career. He was some time at Heidelberg and Vienna; and at one of the few men who had a first and only Weimar he made the acquaintance of the love; and who retained through long years of greatest of German poets-Goethe. Returning married life the fresh feelings and keen affecto Dublin he introduced some of the features tion of the wooer. It is related that while he of student life he had learned in Germany; was still a school-boy, he used to make presents establishing a Burschenschaft, of which he was of flowers to Kate Baker as love-tokens. In elected Grand Llama, and wherein were en- course of time she left Dublin, as he did, her rolled Samuel Lover, and many other young father having been appointed master of the Irishmen who afterwards rose to celebrity. endowed school at Navan. Thither followed In midsummer, 1831, Lever graduated as Lever from his northern home, and soon was Bachelor of Medicine; for some reason or accepted. It is believed that in order to avoid other he never took the higher degree at his the anger of old James Lever, who was anxious alma mater, but, like Goldsmith, was content that his son should make a wealthy match, with the M.D. of Louvain. the marriage was kept secret for some time.

The life of a dispensary doctor, subject to the caprices, the vulgarities, and the petty tyrannies of poor-law guardians, in the end wore out Lever, who was not of a very patient temper, and who, besides, was subject to peri

For a while Lever practised his profession without any very distinguished success in his father's house in Talbot Street, Dublin. The outbreak of cholera brought him sterner and more laborious employment; he was sent by the Board of Health to Clare, where the ter-odical fits of nomadic restlessness. It struck him that he might find in Brussels a pleasant home, and that the English population there would be large enough to give him sufficient practice. He was taken up by Sir H. Seymour, the English minister, though he never received the official rank which so many biographers have given him; he was not physician to the embassy, for no such office existed. Lever's experiences in Brussels were pleasant, and he had every prospect of attaining greater success there as a medical man than even he had anticipated. But again he was transferred just as he had begun to take root.

It was a considerable period before Lever could be convinced that he had literary genius, and that he should adopt the literary career, but he had shown traces of his inclinations at

rible epidemic raged with great fierceness. The daily tasks of Lever during this period were enough to try the nerve and break the health of almost any man; and, indeed, during this time there was a holocaust of medical men. A cheery temper, a stout heart, and a robust constitution saved Lever. While he was passing through these painful scenes he was gleaning other than medical knowledge; he was storing up material for the description of tragic incident and humorous character. The Martins and St. Patrick's Eve contain many of the most painful pictures which presented themselves before the young doctor's eyes; while a coterie of gay and witty acquaintances sat unconsciously for some of the portraits in Harry Lorrequer and Jack Hinton; "Father Malachy

an early age. While still a student he had contributed humorous sketches to the daily papers and to a short-lived periodical called the Irish National Magazine. It was not, however, till the foundation of the Dublin University Magazine—a literary event destined to deeply influence the lives of so many intellectual Irishmen-that he attempted anything on an extended scale.. The first instalment of the Confessions of Harry Lorrequer appeared in the February number of the magazine in 1837. This production at once gained the favour of the people and the publisher; and Lever was surprised to find it proposed that the series should be transferred from the magazine to the more dignified and lasting form of a three-volume work. The book did not attract much notice in the London press; but it had caught the vigilant eye of Mr. Richard Bentley, and a keen competition arose between the London publisher and McGlashan of Dublin, who had accepted Harry Lorrequer for the Dublin University, of which he was then part proprietor. The final result was that Charles O'Malley appeared under Irish auspices. It is unnecessary for us to expatiate on the merits of a story that has proved its popularity by having run through innumerable editions, nor to eulogize characters which have become as familiar as real persons. Suffice it to say, O'Malley was highly successful, and strengthened greatly Lever's position.

The connection with McGlashan which the publication of those stories created, led to a desire to make the connection still closer. An article of Lever in defence of Lord Eliot, then chief-secretary for Ireland, gained him some favour in official quarters; and Lever formed hopes that, if he returned to his native country, he might receive a public appointment that would be easy and remunerative. McGlashan at the same time offered him the editorship of the University Magazine at a liberal salary, the condition being that he should contribute some portion of a story every month, and that for this he should receive £1200 a year.

In January, 1842, Lever entered upon his duties; and Jack Hinton, which had been begun in the previous year, appeared month after month. It may be here said that the materials for the graphic pictures of Galway and Galway society, which appear in so many of Lever's works, were gathered during periodical visits made in youth to his brother, the Rev. John Lever, who had a cure in the county. It may also be added that he always

felt a deep liking for that part of the country. During the greater part of his tenure of editorial office, Lever lived at Templeogue House. There he kept open house after a style more Irish and generous than prudent; and he had visits from all the Irish, and many of the English celebrities of his time. Isaac Butt was one of his most frequent guests; and Thackeray there collected some of the materials for his Irish Sketch Book. O'Leary-a work which others highly praised, and the author himself rather disliked-Tom Burke, in which he utilized military incidents he had collected in a number of French works; the O'Donoghue

the idea of which was suggested by a tour in Killarney-appeared in rapid succession. It may be well to notice that Lever was involved in other than literary troubles during his editorial career; a violent attack by one of the contributors brought him into collision with the well-known littérateur, Mr. S. C. Hall: an angry correspondence was followed by a challenge; but after all the preliminaries were arranged, a reconciliation on terms honourable to both parties was arranged.

Three years of residence and hard work in Dublin produced once more the desire for change; and Lever left Dublin for the Continent, never again to be a resident in his native land. His life from this period onward is that of a wanderer in strange lands—a cosmopolitan to a great extent in languages and in residence, in sympathies and experiences; but his heart always yearned after the old country, for whose people and feelings and customs he felt an enduring love. Amid the blaze of literary fame he often longed to be a doctor in Ireland; and in the course of his after-life he made more than one attempt to get a settled position again there; and when that failed, consoled himself by taking a hurried glimpse at it in the course of occasional tours. Before he left Dublin he had made arrangements with Messrs. Chapman and Hall for the production of St. Patrick's Eve-a short story founded on his experiences as a cholera doctor, and the Knight of Gwynne. The first of these the public received somewhat coldly, for it was considered that a master of farce had no right to intrude on the domain of pathos; but it is a work which found considerable favour with more appreciative critics. The Knight of Gwynne is also pitched in a much more serious key than previous works. Lever's idea was to create a character in which there might be the " same unswerving fidelity of friendship, the same coura

geous devotion to a cause, the same haughty | mystery of which was preserved to the end,-contempt for all that was mean or unworthy," an unusual occurrence with Lever. This was which were the traits of an "educated and followed by That Boy of Northcott's, in which travelled Irishman of the period." To these the story is irresolute, and the end hurried. he wished to add "the lighter accessories of The Rent in the Cloud is also rather a poor genial temperament, forgiving disposition, a work; and A Day's Ride, which Dickens acchivalrous respect for women." The story, as cepted for Household Words, proved so unis well known, relates to the period when the attractive that the editor took the extreme Act of Union was passed, and there are por- step of announcing the end of the work by traits of Castlereagh, a prime mover in that a certain date. The last work which Lever business, and Bagenal Daly, a type of the mem- produced was Lord Kilgobbin, and in this ber of parliament which Sir Jonah Barrington there was no sign of a failing hand. It was has immortalized. The picture of Castlereagh received with unanimous praise by the press, is perhaps more favourable than would be and was regarded more as the work of a writer expected by those who regret the departure of in his full vigour than of an elderly man who the legislative independence of Ireland; but was finishing a prolonged literary career. this is partly accounted for by the fact that From time to time for several years before Lever's views of that statesman were very his death, Lever was in the habit of contrimuch softened by his intercourse at Brussels buting a series of articles to Blackwood on with Sir H. Seymour, who had been one of current topics under the nom de plume of CorCastlereagh's subordinates and friends. nelius O'Dowd.

During the next few years Lever passed most of his time at Florence, where he attracted a large amount of attention by the splendour of his equipage and his stud. It was his habit to drive about the streets with his children dressed in rather theatrical style; but in extenuation of this offence it may be remembered that Alfieri, the great Italian poet, was not free from a similar desire to display the beauties of his stables and his equestrian skill. During this period were written Roland Cashel, Maurice Tiernay, Con Cregan, and Sir Jasper Carew. The Fortunes of Glencore, which came next, marks the beginning of a new and completely different era in Lever's career. Here we have that mixture of Irish life in its simplicity, and the intrigues of small courts, and the follies of continental society. It may be said that every work produced by Lever after this period contained the same mixture of characters and scenes. We do not intend to go over each work at any length. Glencore was followed by the Martins of Cro' Martin, in which is told one of the most romantic and most poetical tales of the wreck of an old Irish family; The Daltons; Davenport Dunn, where John Sadleir the member of parliament and forger figures; One of Them, in which we find alternately described the dispensary at Portstewart and the salon at Florence; Gerald Fitzgerald; Tony Butler, published anonymously; Sir Brooke Fosbrooke, which he described as the "most carefully written" of his works, and where Chief-justice Lefroy is painted. The Bramleys appeared in the Cornhill Magazine, and is remarkable for an elaborate plot, the

In 1858 he was appointed by his friends in the Tory administration vice-consul at Spezzia, and in 1867 he was promoted to the consulship at Trieste. The latter years of his life were darkened by the necessity for continual work in consequence of somewhat embarrassed circumstances, and he also chafed much under the necessity of living away in comparative exile in a Dalmatian seaport. He also suffered from ill health. He paid his last visit to Ireland a short time before his death, and on the 1st June, 1872, he passed away painlessly in sleep.]




The rain was dashing in torrents against the window-panes, and the wind sweeping in heavy and fitful gusts along the dreary and deserted streets, as a party of three persons sat over their wine in that stately old pile which once formed the resort of the Irish members, in College Green, Dublin, and went by the name of Daly's Club House. The clatter of falling tiles and chimney-pots-the jarring of the window-frames and howling of the storm without, seemed little to affect the spirits of those within, as they drew closer to a blazing fire, before which stood a small table covered with the remains of a dessert, and an

1 By permission of Messrs. W. H. Smith & Son.


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