I am unwilling to suffer this tale to leave my hands without a word of explanation to my reader. If I have never disguised from myself the grounds of any humble success I have attained to as a writer of fiction; if I have always had before me the fact that to movement and action, the stir of incident, and a certain light-heartedness and gayety of temperament, more easy to impart to others than to repress in one's self, I have owed much, if not all, of whatever popularity I have enjoyed, I have yet felt, or fancied that I felt, that it would be in the delineation of very different scenes, and the portraiture of very different emotions, that I should reap what I would reckon as a real success. This conviction, or impression if you will, has become stronger with years and with the knowledge of life; years have imparted, and time has but confirmed me in, the notion that any skill I possess lies in the detection of character, and the unravelment of that tangled skein which makes up human motives.
About the author
Charles James Lever (31 August 1806 – 1 June 1872) was an Irish novelist. Trollope praised Lever's novels highly when he said that they were just like his conversation. He was a born raconteur, and had in perfection that easy flow of light description which without tedium or hurry leads up to the point of the good stories of which in earlier days his supply seemed inexhaustible. With little respect for unity of action or conventional novel structure, his brightest books, such as Lorrequer, O'Malley and Tom Burke, are in fact little more than recitals of scenes in the life of a particular "hero", unconnected by any continuous intrigue. The type of character he depicted is for the most part elementary. His women are mostly roués, romps or Xanthippes; his heroes have too much of the Pickle temper about them and fall an easy prey to the serious attacks of Poe or to the more playful gibes of Thackeray in Phil Fogarty or Bret Harte in Terence Deuville. This last is a perfect bit of burlesque. Terence exchanges nineteen shots with the Hon. Captain Henry Somerset in the glen. "At each fire I shot away a button from his uniform. As, my last bullet shot off the last button from his sleeve, I remarked quietly, 'You seem now, my lord, to be almost as ragged as the gentry you sneered at,' and rode haughtily away." And yet these careless sketches contain such haunting creations as Frank Webber, Major Monsoon and Micky Free, "the Sam Weller of Ireland".
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