Cartoon portraits and biographical sketches of men of the day/Charles Lever

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

CHARLES LEVER.

Born August 31, 1809; died June 1, 1872.

Two worlds there are in which we live and move—
   The world of fiction and the world of fact:
One of King Magic, whom his subjects love;
   One of King Fate, wherein we talk and act.

In one, the good men fail, the bad succeed;
   Age carves its lines too soon on buxom youth:
Man falls ignobly in the hour of need,
   And woman's faith beats down our faith in truth.

Here sickness weakens; here high purpose dies;
   Here lofty aims are kill'd; hero few are brave;
Here, torn by vultures, great Prometheus lies;
   Here hope is crush'd, work bounded by the grave.

But there, O great magicians! there we dwell,
   Robed in forgetfulness of present woe,
Languid and still, on beds of asphodel,
   "While the unheeded hours pass by and go.

There beauty fades not, smiles change not to tears,
   Mirth never palls, and wine doth not destroy;
Love is immortal, manhood has no fears;
   No cloud is there 'tween sunshine and our joy.

O world of fiction! all unreal, yet true—
   What fit thanks can we frame our debt to meet?
And for thy chiefs what crown of praise is due,
   If any crown is dear to them we greet?

The kings and statesmen pass across the stage
   They vex the world and us and then they die:
Forgotten soon, save where on history's page
   Dry lists of dead men's names make schoolboys sigh.

"Thyself in thy likeness. Tempest, act iii. sc. 2."

THYSELF IN THY LIKENESS. Tempest, act iii. sc. 2.

But these, our writers—when one dies, the hours
   Arc hush'd awhile, because they could not save;
And smiles and tears, like sunshine cross'd by flowers,
   Arch an eternal rainbow o'er his grave.

Never forgotten—yet we mourn his loss,
   As of some friend long loved and deeply tried;
Or as of sunshine that has lain across
   So long, we eem d it ne'er would leave our side.

Therefore, when tidings came, how in fair spring
   Death had seized one whose heart no winter knew,
Great sadness fell on us, remembering
   Days of our youth, when things seem'd fair and true;

When we lay, deep beneath the apple shade,
   In an old orchard all the afternoon;
Above us, pink and white, the blossoms spread;
   Flowers at our feet, and all around us June.

And then we read the tales of war and Spain;
   Of revelry and Ireland, sword and gown;
Of love that mock'd at bars put up in vain;
   Of hardihood that trampled danger down;

Proctors and doctors, undergrads, dragoons,
   Vivandières, and priests, and muleteers gay;
Groves dear to maidens, soldiers, stars, and moons,
   Swept past our fancy in their wild array.

And is he dead, who told so well—whose pen
   Grew wise, but never dull whose—laughter rang,
If not so loud, as genial still as when
   Among his Dublin monks he drank and sang?

Farewell, Charles Lever! Could fate overlook,
   But for one other work, thy fruitful days.
Farewell ! the world is gloomier. Ill we brook
   To lose thy voice in Joy's small choir of Praise.

Charles James Lever, the writer of so many brilliant works of fiction, was born in Dublin, in the year 1809. He was educated there at Trinity College, and was originally intended to follow the medical profession; but he soon abandoned physic for literature, and so followed the bent of his great natural genius. From 'Harry Lorrequer,' completed about the year 1836, to 'Lord Kilgobbin,' only recently finished in 'The Cornhill,' Charles Lever wrote a very large number of works of fiction of great merit. His wise and witty essays in 'Blackwood,' under the nom de plume of Cornelius O'Dowd, have been universally admired, as have his numerous contributions to 'All the Year Round,' 'St. Pauls,' and the columns of 'Once a Week.' The proximate cause of his death—which took place at Trieste, on the 1st of June 1872—was disease of the heart. This sad event was expected by his relatives and friends, and calmly contemplated by himself. His letters of late were full of allusions to the shattered state of his health, and he often mentioned his belief that he had not long to live. Still his brightness and fun never left him, and he was the good, genial, and amiable Charles Lever to the last days of his life; and every reader of his writings will cordially echo the words of a writer in 'Blackwood,' that 'we have lost in Charles Lever one of those brilliant and cheering lights the extinction of which may be said to "eclipse the gaiety of nations."