xxx xxx

Portrait of Charles James Lever (facing title-page) — Henry Thomas Ryall's stipple engraving based on the 1840 painting by Samuel Lover (Irish, 1797-1868) for Charles Lever's Jack Hinton, The Guardsman, November 1842. 22.3 cm high by 14.1 cm wide (8 ¾ by 5 &frac916; inches), framed.

Commentary: Samuel Lover and Phiz visit Lever in Brussels

P. S. — We have a stray Adonis or two among us who would prefer it if your friend Phiz could come down here for their portraits instead of trusting to chance, or, worse still, your vile descriptions. Try if this could be managed. — "Notice, Liminary or Preliminary," ix-x.

Anglo-Irish novelist Charles Lever, practising medicine in Brussels, invited Phiz (Hablột Knight Browne) to the Belgian capital to discuss the illustrations for the forthcoming novel, "suggesting he travel there with Samuel Lover, who was going to paint his portrait. While Lover worked, Lever could describe to Phiz the gang of wild characters springing to mind for his next novel, Jack Hinton" (Lester, 114-115).

The Belgian trip stretched out beyond two weeks, so well did the two artists and the novelist amuse one another with daily dinners on a grand scale and Lever's lengthy anecdotes: the trio instituted a pseudo aristocratic order they dubbed "Knights Grand Cross, with music, procession, and a grand ballet to conclude. They did nothing all day, or, in some instances, all night, but eat, drink, and laugh. During the sixteen days of the visit they consumed nine dozen of champagne" (Stevenson, 95). The whole interlude was like a scene out of one of Lever's novels.

Forty-three-year-old Lover and and thirty-four-year-old Lever must have regarded themselves at that 1840 visit as kindred spirits, Anglo-Irish artists who stepped out of their fathers' shadows to become successful writers. Both developed the stereotype of the comic stage Irishman. Lover (1797-1868) was a portrait painter, novelist, and songwriter. His most famous comic song is "Rory O'More" (1826), and his best known novel Handy Andy (1842). Like Lever, he was a founding member of the editorial staff on the Dublin University Magazine. His miniature of Lever, first exhibited in London in 1843, is one of his best known paintings, second only to the popular image of Paganini which he executed when the celebrated violinist performed in Dublin in 1831; it was exhibited at the Royal Academy in London in 1832. Curry first used Ryall's engraving of the Lever portrait in Our Mess (Dublin: 1843-44).

Jack Hinton issued in three formats (1842, 1843)

The initial vehicle for the picaresque novel, also published by Dublin printer William Curry, Junior, The Dublin University Magazine, was only nine years old when Lever assumed the editorship. This, Lever's third novel, signalled a shift in the somewhat Tory-oriented journal from miscellaneous political pieces towards fiction. The shift was accelerated by the publishers Hurst and Blackett's purchasing a controlling interest in the magazine in 1856. Sutherland notes that, although he held the editorship only three years, Lever used The Dublin University Magazine to publish numerous Irish tales, and was thus largely responsible for increasing the periodical's circulation to a respectable four thousand. In its inception, it was modelled on such literary but unillustrated monthlies as Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine (founded in 1817) and Fraser's Magazine (founded in London in 1830). This military novel and the two that preceded it — The Confessions of Harry Lorrequer and the more serious and better structured Charles O'Malley, the Irish Dragoon — seem admirably suited to a university literary magazine of the 1840s. Our Mess; Volume I, Jack Hinton, the Guardsman ran serially from March 1840 to December 1841 in the magazine, and in twelve monthly parts, with Phiz's illustrations, from January to December 1842.


Lester, Valerie Browne. Phiz: The Man Who Drew Dickens. London: Chatto and Windus, 2004.

Lever, Charles. Jack Hinton, The Guardsman. Illustrated by Hablột Knight Browne (Phiz). London: Downey & Co., 1901. [First published serially in The Dublin University Magazine January through December 1842; and subsequently in a single volume, Dublin: William Curry, Jun. December 1842, pp. 396. Illustrated with wood and steel engravings by H. K. Browne. 8vo, 396pp. Boston: Little, Brown, 1894; New York: Croscup, 1894. 2 vols.

"Lover, Samuel." Dictionary of Irish Biography. Posted October 2009. Accessed 8 February 2023.

Stevenson, Lionel. Chapter V, "Renegade from Physic, 1839-1841." Dr. Quicksilver: The Life of Charles Lever. London: Chapman and Hall, 1939. Pp. 73-93.

Sutherland, John A. "Jack Hinton The Guardsman." The Stanford Companion to Victorian Fiction. Stanford, Cal.: Stanford U. P., 1989, rpt. 1990, 323.

Created 8 February 2023

Last updated 24 May 2023