The Cabinet of Irish Literature, Vol. 4
Excerpt from The Cabinet of Irish Literature, Vol. 4: Selections From the Works of the Chief Poets, Orators, and Prose Writers of Ireland; With Biographical Sketches and Literary Notices[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 Irishman; proud, courageous, high-minded; a faithful husband, a devoted father, an affectionate friend, and a passionate lover of his country and countrymen.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, 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. It is said, for instance, that he displayed a wonderful power of story-telling; that he had a strong inclination for getting up amateur and Lilliputian theatricals; and there is a tale - 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.About the PublisherForgotten Books publishes hundreds of thousands of rare and classic books. 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