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The Martins Of Cro' Martin   By: (1806-1872)

The Martins Of Cro' Martin by Charles James Lever

First Page:


By Charles James Lever.

With Illustrations By Phiz.

In Two Volumes

Vol. I.


Little, Brown, And Company.




If I have not asked your permission to dedicate this volume to you, it is because I would not involve you in the responsibility of any opinions even so light a production may contain, nor seek to cover by a great name the sentiment and views of a very humble one.

I cannot, however, deny myself the pleasure of inscribing to you a book to which I have given much thought and labor, a testimony of the deep and sincere affection of one who has no higher pride than in the honor of your friendship.

Ever sincerely yours,


Casa Cappoli, Florence, May, 1856


When I had made my arrangement with my publishers for this new story, I was not sorry for many reasons to place the scene of it in Ireland. One of my late critics, in noticing "Roland Cashel" and "The Daltons," mildly rebuked me for having fallen into doubtful company, and half censured in Bohemian several of the characters in these novels. I was not then, still less am I now, disposed to argue the point with my censor, and show that there is a very wide difference between the persons who move in the polite world, with a very questionable morality, and those patented adventurers whose daily existence is the product of daily address. The more one sees of life, the more is he struck by the fact that the mass of mankind is rarely very good or very bad, that the business of life is carried on with mixed motives; the best people being those who are least selfish, and the worst being little other than those who seek their own objects with slight regard for the consequences to others, and even less scruple as to the means.

Any uniformity in good or evil would be the deathblow to that genteel comedy which goes on around us, and whose highest interest very often centres in the surprises we give ourselves by unexpected lines of action and unlooked for impulses. As this strange drama unfolded itself before me, it had become a passion with me to watch the actors, and speculate on what they might do. For this Florence offered an admirable stage. It was eminently cosmopolitan; and, in consequence, less under the influence of any distinct code of public opinion than any section of the several nationalities I might have found at home.

There was a universal toleration abroad; and the Spaniard conceded to the German, and the Russian to the Englishman, much on the score of nationality; and did not question too closely a morality which, after all, might have been little other than a conventional habit. Exactly in the same way, however, that one hurries away from the life of a city and its dissipations, to breathe the fresh air and taste the delicious quiet of the country, did I turn from these scenes of splendor, from the crush of wealth, and the conflict of emotion, to that Green Island, where so many of my sympathies were intertwined, and where the great problem of human happiness was on its trial on issues that differed wonderfully little from those that were being tried in gilded salons, and by people whose names were blazoned in history.

Ireland, at the time I speak of, was beginning to feel that sense of distrust and jealousy between the owner and the tiller of the soil which, later on, was to develop itself into open feud. The old ties that have bound the humble to the rich man, and which were hallowed by reciprocal acts of good will and benevolence, were being loosened. Benefits were canvassed with suspicion, ungracious or unholy acts were treasured up as cruel wrongs. The political agitator had so far gained the ear of the people, that he could persuade them that there was not a hardship or a grievance of their lot that could not be laid at the door of the landlord. He was taught to regard the old relation of love and affection to the owner of the soil, as the remnants of a barbarism that had had its day, and he was led to believe that whether the tyranny that crushed him was the Established Church or the landlord, there was a great Liberal party ready to aid him in resisting either or both, when he could summon courage for the effort... Continue reading book >>

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