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Jack Hinton The Guardsman   By: (1806-1872)

Jack Hinton The Guardsman by Charles James Lever

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By Charles James Lever

With Illustrations by Browne





Very few words of preface will suffice to the volume now presented to my readers. My intention was to depict, in the early experiences of a young Englishman in Ireland, some of the almost inevitable mistakes incidental to such a character. I had so often myself listened to so many absurd and exaggerated opinions on Irish character, formed on the very slightest acquaintance with the country, and by persons, too, who, with all the advantages long intimacy might confer, would still have been totally inadequate to the task of a rightful appreciation, that I deemed the subject one where a little "reprisal" might be justifiable.

Scarcely, however, had I entered upon my story, than I strayed from the path I had determined on, and, with very little reference to my original intention, suffered Jack Hinton to "take his chance amongst the natives," and with far too much occupation on his hands to give time for reflecting over their peculiarities, or recording their singular traits, I threw him into the society of the capital, under the vice royalty of a celebrated Duke, all whose wayward eccentricities were less marked than the manly generosity and genuine honesty of his character. I introduced him into a set where, whatever purely English readers may opine, I have wonderfully little exaggerated; and I led him down to the West to meet adventures which every newspaper, some twenty five years ago, would show were by no means extravagant or strange.

As for the characters of the story, there is not one for which I did not take a "real sitter;" at the same time, I have never heard one single correct guess as to the types that afforded them. To Mrs. Paul Rooney, Father Tom Loftus, Bob Mahon, O'Grady, Tipperary Joe, and even Corny himself, I have scarcely added a touch which nature has not given them, while assuredly I have failed to impart many a fine and delicate tint far above the "reach of ' my art," and which might have presented them in stronger light and shadow than I have dared to attempt. Had I desired to caricature English ignorance as to Ireland in the person of my Guardsman, nothing would have been easier; but I preferred merely exposing him to such errors as might throw into stronger relief the peculiarities of Irishmen, and, while offering something to laugh at, give no offence to either. The volume amused me while I was writing it, less, perhaps, by what I recorded, than what I abstained from inditing; at all events, it was the work of some of the pleasantest hours of my life, and if it can ever impart to any of my readers a portion of the amusement some of the real characters afforded myself, it will not be all a failure. That it may succeed so far is the hope of the reader's

Very devoted servant,


Casa Capponi, Florence, March, 1857.



It was on a dark and starless night in February, 181 , as the last carriage of a dinner party had driven from the door of a large house in St. James's square, when a party drew closer around the drawing room fire, apparently bent upon that easy and familiar chit chat the presence of company interdicts.

One of these was a large and fine looking man of about five and forty, who, dressed in the full uniform of a general officer, wore besides the ribbon of the Bath; he leaned negligently upon the chimney piece, and, with his back towards the fire, seemed to follow the current of his own reflections: this was my Father.

Beside him, but almost concealed in the deep recess of a well cushioned arm chair, sat, or rather lay, a graceful figure, who with an air of languid repose was shading her fine complexion as well from the glare of the fire as from the trying brilliancy of an Argand lamp upon the mantelpiece. Her rich dress, resplendent with jewels, while it strangely contrasted with the careless ease of her attitude, also showed that she had bestowed a more than common attention that day upon her toilette: this, fair reader, was my Mother... Continue reading book >>

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