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of his rather wild career in the regiment, which I am sure would add to the interest and amusement of your work; but I am not at liberty, life in a regiment being held as sacred as that in a private family. Perhaps it will be sufficient for your purpose to know that the late Cornet Lever was in every respect the fac-simile of Charles O'Malley; as daring and reckless, and ever thinking of executing the most surprising feats of horsemanship, billiard playing, pistol shooting, &c., &c., &c. In fact he was the most accomplished man I have ever heard or read of; not only in such gifts as would make him conspicuous in a regiment, but he was likewise an accomplished linguist, and possessed a vast knowledge of general literature. Unfortunately he was in constant difficulties as regards money-matters.”
Lever with ingenious philosophy tried to bear up against these bitter blasts. A life without duns, he would say, is like a sky without a cloud, most agreeable for a short time, but soon becoming wearisome from very monotony. One grows as tired of uninterrupted blue as of impending rain and storm. The landscape effect of light and shadow over existence had excellent uses !
“Young Lever served in the troop I commanded," writes an officer filling high official status, “and so probably I knew as much about him as anybody. He was a warmhearted, generous fellow, but given too much to convivial and extravagant habits. Apparently he had set before himself, as an ideal of what a cavalry soldier should be, the bygone age described in his father's novels in
DEATH OF HIS SON.
the character of Jack Hinton, and was often in trouble in consequence. You ask me, if he fought a duel. · Some absurdity did take place in his own bungalow with a great friend of his, such as firing a pistol at one another,
taking care to miss. Had it been anything more than this, the regimental authorities would have at once taken notice of it. In fact nobody but one or two of his friends ever heard of this absurd boyish joke. He was a good rider, and of good natural abilities; and had he been more ascetically brought up, would probably have turned out a gallant soldier. Personally I liked him, for I found him warm-hearted and very amenable to myself as his captain.”
"He served under my command for two or three years,” writes the highest authority, General Seymour. “ He was a particularly intelligent and smart young officer, and saw service in the regiment in the campaign in India of 1858-59, consequent on the mutinies in Oude. He subsequently sold out, and died at Florence.” For service he received a medal; but the sequel is sad enough. Major Lukin happened to be in Italy; and, entering a morgue one day without any particular object, was horrified to recognise his late brother officer among the dead. On inquiry, he learned that young Lever had been found dead in his bed (dressed in evening clothes) at one of the hotels; and, having no friends that the hotel people knew, his remains were removed to the morgue. It is added, that he presented, when in the regiment and afterwards, a very apoplectic appearance.
His debts had been paid, and the blow fell the heavier
from the fact that a promised Colonial appointment for him was daily expected. With conflicting emotions Lever felt that Charley was less his father's son than the son of his genius ; and that “ he was own brother to ‘Lorrequer,'O'Malley, and ‘Tom Burke.'”
Lever bore up against his trials with the indomitable elasticity of his nature. “The theory of animal heat,” he said, “has established the fact that the individual who has absorbed a certain amount of caloric will be able to resist cold longer and better than he who goes into the air without such a provision. May there not be something of the same kind in our moral chemistry, and that a stock of latent happiness will serve to ward off the chill approach of adversity long after exposure to its assault; and that the heart which has drunk freely of bliss, will carry the flame even after sorrow and suffering have impaired the sense and dulled the enjoyment?” In the Val d'Arno at Florence, which he called the happy valley, and in the creations of his own fancy, Lever gradually forgot past worries. He said that, as in certain climates rocks become shrined by lichens, so bygones become rapidly shadowed here.
Lever's love of display often led people to snub him; and his brusqueness sometimes brought him with strangers into situations the reverse of pleasant. He had always been most sensitive, as his letters shew: more than once we find him wincing under the anonymous criticism of some provincial print. They who knew him best assure us that, when his vanity was
wounded, he did not hesitate to resent rebuffs ; so much so that at Florence, when people shewed any rudeness to him or to his family, “he used,” writes Major D—, “to put an unmistakable caricature of them into whatever book he was writing; and then, when the number arrived at Florence, would go down to the club and avow his design. It would not be true to say that he was vindictive; but he did delight in giving a side-thrust to casual persons who annoyed him, after which he forgot them. People saw and condemned these little defects, but his really intimate friends well knew how good, noble, and true-hearted he was.” He was, indeed, always ready to accept the outstretched hands of men with whom he may have had some disagreement. One case is specially before us, where he begged to assure a person who seemed not unwilling to be reconciled, that “ a hearty shake of the hand awaited him, and as good a flask of Hermitage Rouge as ever moistened his labials !”
He seemed to know what people would be saying of him, and in “O'Dowd” bitterly says :-“We certainly do seize upon any disparaging element in a great character with an avidity akin to that we display in unmasking a rogue and exposing an impostor.” Though always believing that Fate had ill-treated him, he was yet convinced, as he himself prettily expressed it, that “his geese were not merely swans, but infinitely prettier, more white, more stately, and more graceful than his neighbour's swans.” But he complained that men were con
stantly dropping hard, stern judgments that they stupidly called “ truths ;” “and there are creatures ready to give their vulgar opinions at every moment, and tell you scores of things that push your patience to its last entrenchment.” He then notices a trick with those who cannot find in some private chamber a skeleton to drag forth and rattle. “Let one of these fellows into your grounds, and they'll pluck your swán’s feathers to such a purpose, that, though they won't persuade you he was a goose, they'll give him a horrible resemblance to one.”
It soon became clear to the Florentines, or rather to their visitors, that Burns' lines, “A chiel's amang ye takin' notes,” came home very closely to them; and this circumstance tended to limit the extent of Lever's social intercourse there. He was so prolific as a story-teller, and the machinery for producing it rolled and rattled so unflaggingly, that a constant crave for fuel became at last a necessity. The incidents and anecdotes of every night were utilised. All he heard was seized. One lady from Clare, who happened to tell him at Florence a little tale which occurred within her own knowledge, was surprised to find it in a subsequent book; and a hundred similar instances might be given. They who care to learn more of his style of life at Florence should read “The Dodds," "The Daltons," “ The Martins,” “ One of Them,” and “The Fortunes of Glencore.” Severe portraits of people well known, not only in Florence but in Dublin, peep from these books --especially that of a lady given to forcing her acquain