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Gerald Fitzgerald The Chevalier   By: (1806-1872)

Gerald Fitzgerald The Chevalier by Charles James Lever

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GERALD FITZGERALD

THE CHEVALIER

By Charles Lever

Author of 'Haury Lorrequer' Etc.

With A Frontispiece By A. D. M'Cormick

London Downey And Co., Limited

12 York Street, Covent Garden 1899

PUBLISHERS' NOTE

The Publishers feel that some explanation is necessary concerning the tardy publication in book form of this story. Gerald Fitzgerald appeared as a serial in the Dublin University Magazine . The Magazine at the time was changing hands, Lever's old friend and publisher, James M'Glashan, having just died. Lever was always eager to avoid trouble, and ever readier to undertake new work than to concern himself about work already done; and possibly for there is not sufficient evidence to speak with certainty owing to some trouble with the new proprietors of the Dublin University Magazine , he decided to put aside Gerald Fitzgerald . When he was rearranging his novels for a fresh issue, shortly before his death, he omitted a few of his stories from the collection, but for no adequate reason which can be discovered. He was assisted in the preparation of this collected edition by his daughter, Mrs. Nevill, who died last year. Mrs. Nevill could not account, for the omission of Gerald Fitzgerald , and left it to the judgment of the present publishers whether the work should be issued or not. After very careful consideration, and with full respect for Lever's memory and reputation, they have decided that the novel should be issued as a substantive work. It is evident that Lever spent much pains upon the story; and though it is not to be expected that it will rival in popularity his earlier and more boisterous performances, yet the publishers believe it will not in any way damage his reputation as a story teller.

London, March 1899.

GERALD FITZGERALD

BOOK THE FIRST

CHAPTER I. THE THIEVES' CORNER

At the foot of the hill on which stands the Campidoglio at Rome, and close beneath the ruins that now encumber the Tarpeian rock, runs a mean looking alley, called the Viccolo D'Orsi, but better known to the police as the 'Viccolo dei Ladri,' or 'Thieves' Corner' the epithet being, it is said, conferred in a spirit the very reverse of calumnious.

Long and straggling, and too narrow to admit of any but foot passengers, its dwellings are marked by a degree of poverty and destitution even greater than such quarters usually exhibit. Rudely constructed of fragments taken from ancient temples and monuments, richly carved architraves and finely cut friezes are to be seen embedded amid masses of crumbling masonry, and all the evidences of a cultivated and enlightened age mingled up with the squalor and misery of present want.

Not less suggestive than the homes themselves are the population of this dreary district; and despite rags, and dirt, and debasement, there they are the true descendants of those who once, with such terrible truth, called themselves 'Masters of the World.' Well set on heads of massive mould, bold and prominent features, finely fashioned jaws, and lips full of vigour and sensual meaning, are but the base counterfeits of the traits that meet the eye in the Vatican. No effort of imagination is needed to trace the kindred. In every gesture, in their gait, even in the careless ease of their ragged drapery, you can mark the traditionary signs of the once haughty citizen.

With a remnant of their ancient pride, these people reject all hired occupation, and would scorn, as an act of slavery, the idea of labour; and, as neither trade nor calling prevails among them, their existence would seem an inscrutable problem, save on the hypothesis which dictated the popular title of this district. But without calling to our aid this explanation, it must be remembered how easily life is supported by those satisfied with its meanest requirements, and especially in a land so teeming with abundance. A few roots, a handful of chestnuts, a piece of black bread, a cup of wine, scarcely more costly than so much water, these are enough to maintain existence; and in their gaunt and famished faces you can see that little beyond this is accomplished... Continue reading book >>




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