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Confessions Of Con Cregan An Irish Gil Blas   By: (1806-1872)

Confessions Of Con Cregan An Irish Gil Blas by Charles James Lever

First Page:


An Irish Gil Blas

By Charles Lever

With Illustrations by Phiz.

Boston: Little, Brown, And Company. 1913


An eminent apothecary of my acquaintance once told me that at each increase to his family, he added ten per cent to the price of his drugs, and as his quiver was full of daughters, Blackdraught, when I knew him, was a more costly cordial than CuraƧoa.

To apply this to my own case, I may mention that I had a daughter born to me about the time this story dates from, and not having at my command the same resource as my friend the chemist, I adopted the alternative of writing another story, to be published contemporaneously with that now appearing, "The Daltons;" and not to incur the reproach so natural in criticism of over writing myself I took care that the work should come out without a name.

I am not sure that I made any attempt to disguise my style; I was conscious of scores of blemishes I decline to call them mannerisms that would betray me: but I believe I trusted most of all to the fact that I was making my monthly appearance to the world in another story, and with another publisher, and I had my hope that my small duplicity would thus escape undetected.

I was aware that there was a certain amount of peril in running an opposition coach on the line I had made in some degree my own; not to say that it might be questionable policy to glut the public with a kind of writing more remarkable for peculiarity than perfection.

I remember that excellent Irishman Bianconi, not the less Irish that he was born at Lucca, which was simply a "bull," once telling me that to popularize a road on which few people were then travelling, and on which his daily two horse car was accustomed to go its journey, with two or at most three passengers, the idea occurred to him that he would start an opposition conveyance, of course in perfect secrecy, and with every outward show of its being a genuine rival. He effected his object with such success that his own agents were completely taken in, and never wearied of reporting, for his gratification, all the shortcomings and disasters of the rival company.

At length, and when the struggle between the competitors was at its height, one of his drivers rushed frantically into his office one day, crying out, "Give a crown piece to drink your honor's health for what I done to day."

"What was it, Larry?"

"I killed the yallow mare of the opposition car; I passed her on the long hill, when she was blown, and I bruk her heart before she reached the top."

"After this I gave up the opposition," said my friend; "'mocking was catching,' as the old proverb says; and I thought that one might carry a joke a little too far."

I had this experience before me, and I will not say it did not impress me. My puzzle was, however, in this wise: I imagined I did not care on which horse I stood to win; in other words, I persuaded myself that it was a matter of perfect indifference to me which book took best with the public, and whether the reader thought better of "The Daltons" or "Con Cregan," that it could in no way concern me.

That I totally misunderstood myself, or misconceived the case before me, I am now quite ready to own. For one notice of "The Daltons" by the Press, there were at least three or four of "Con Cregan," and while the former was dismissed with a few polite and measured phrases, the latter was largely praised and freely quoted. Nor was this all. The critics discovered in "Con Cregan" a freshness and a vigor which were so sadly deficient in "The Daltons." It was, they averred, the work of a less practised writer, but of one whose humor was more subtle, and whose portraits, roughly sketched as they were, indicated a far higher power than the well known author of "Harry Lorre quer."

The unknown for there was no attempt to guess him was pronounced not to be an imitator of Mr... Continue reading book >>

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