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pears to have been directed by a judicious, I mourn whene'er I think of thee, as well as affectionate hand. One of his My darling native vale!
A wiser head I have, I know, mother's earliest presents to him was a man
Than when I loitered there! uscript copy of Goldsmith's Deserted Village, But in my wisdom there is woe, which he treasured religiously among his pa- And in my knowledge, care.
Old times! Old times ! pers to his latest hour. She seems to have been a woman of extensive reading; and,
III. next to his religious training, took peculiar
“ I've lived to know my share of joy, pleasure in directing his studies into a useful
To feel my share of pain, track. He himself, from his earliest years, To learn that friendship's self can cloy, was a most assiduous reader. At breakfast To love, and love in vain; or tea, he used to sit with a book before him,
To feel a pang and wear a smile,
To tire of other climes, one or two under his arm, and several on the
To like my own unhappy isle, chair behind him.
And sing the gay old times !
Old times! Old times ! “My mother met him one night," writes Dr. Griffin, "going to his room, with several large octavo volumes of Goldsmith's Animated Nature
“And sure the land is nothing changed, under his arm. My dear child,' said she with The birds are singing still ; astonishment, do you mean to read all those The flowers are springing where we ranged, great books before morning ? He seemed a There's sunshine on the hill; little puzzled ; but looking wistfully at the books, The sally waving o'er my head, and not knowing which to part with, said he Still sweetly shades my frame, wanted them all
, upon which he was allowed to But ah, those happy days are fled, take them. One evening, when one of our
And I am not the same !
Old times ! old times ! young people was reading aloud something about the trade-winds, one of his elder brothers, to whose tastes I have before alluded, and who from childhood had shown great activityof mind, “Oh, come again, ye merry times ! imagined he could illustrate the subject with a Sweet, sunny, fresh, and calm; spinning-wheel that was in the kitchen, and And let me hear those Easter chimes, went out to try. While the servants observed And wear my Sunday palm, him with astonishment, and some concern for
If I could cry away mine eyes, his senses, Gerald instantly guessed what he
My tears would flow in vain; was about. On returning to the parlor, my.
If I could waste my heart in sighs, mother asked, “Gerald, where is William ?'
They'll never come again !
Old times ! Old times !'-Pp. 59-60. 'He is spinning monsoons, mamma,' said Gerald, with an air of great gravity.”
In 1820, his parents, with the elder porAlthough his early boyhood does not ap-tion of the family, emigrated to America. pear to have exhibited any indication of the Gerald, however, who was then about sevenpoetic talent developed in after life, yet, in teen, remained in Ireland, with a younger his maturer poetry may be found abundant brother, and two sisters-one of whom was evidence of a mind early stored with the im- in delicate health—under the protection of agery which none but a poet can draw from an elder brother, William Griffin, who had external nature, and with impressions and re- just entered upon the medical profession. collections, unheeded, perhaps, at the time, For a time, it was intended that Gerald but carefully treasured up for future use. should follow the profession of his brother, The following beautiful lines, though written and he had actually commenced a course of long afterwards, have a peculiar interest not-studies under his direction. But the love of withstanding, as connected with the recol- literature prevailed in the end; and he gradulections of this portion of his life :
ally devoted himself entirely to it,-first, as an
occasional contributor to some of the Limerick "Old times! old times! the gay old times !
journals, and eventually as managing editor When I was young and free,
of a paper called the Advertiser. This, And heard the merry Easter chimes however, appears to have been any thing but Under the sally tree.
a congenial occupation. Griffin was an arMy Sunday palm beside me placed, My cross upon my hand,
dent politician, and, although the journal was A heart at rest within my breast,
nominally liberal, the proprietor was afraid And sunshine on the land !
of every thing which could give the shadow Old times! Old times !
of offence to “the Castle." During the in
tervals of these occupations, he devoted him" It is not that my fortunes flee,
self to poetry; and before he had yet comNor that my cheek is pale,
pleted his eighteenth year, he produced his
first tragedy, Aguire, founded on a Spanish| to me. Until within a short time back, I have story. The extreme beauty of this play, and not had since I left Ireland a single moments the high promise of literary excellence which peace of mind-constantly-constantly running it bespoke in so young a writer, induced his backward and forward, and trying a thousand brother, though not without considerable expedients, and only to meet disappointments
where I turned. It may perhaps appear hesitation, to yield his approval to Gerald's strange and unaccountable to you, but I could bold resolution of going to London, and of not sit down to tell you only that I was in fering it for representation at some of the despair of ever being able to do any thing in leading theatres Accordingly, in the au- London, as was the fact for a long time. I tumn, of 1823, before he had completed his never will think or talk upon the subject again. twentieth he set out for the great me- I could have outlived, and the very recollection
It was a year such as I did not think it possible year, tropolis, with a few pounds in one pocket, of it puts me into the horrors. William has, 1 and a brace of tragedies in the other, suppos- suppose, let you know my movements, and I fear ing that the one would set him up before the I shall be repeating him if I set about telling other was exhausted.”
you how I have fared. But I have a long sheet The history of his struggles in the com- before me, and may as well just glance at a few mencement of his career-the oft-told tale of of them. Let me first, however, beg you to be hope deferred the chilling neglect of hol- satisfied that this it was, and no neglect-I was low patrons, and hollower friends—the wast- writing; beside that when I do write I must fill
not guilty of it for an instant-that prevented my ing drudgery of unrequited labor, and the up a large sheet, or send none. When first I still more melancholy tale of the physical came to London, my own self-conceit, backed by wretchedness, the penury, the neglect, the the opinion of one of the most original geniuses shame, the sickness, into which he was of the age, induced me to set about revolutionplunged - is full of most painful interest. izing the dramatic taste of the time by writing Much of it is given in his letters to his and the first step taken (a couple of pieces writ
for the stage. Indeed the design was formed, brother; some has been collected from the ten) in Ireland I cannot with my present exfew literary friends whom he had during perience conceive any thing more comical than these years of trial, but much more remain- my own views and measures at the time. A ed untold, locked up in the recesses of his young gentleman totally unknown, even to a own sensitive heart. The following letter to single family in London, coming into town with his father and mother, when he had just be a few pounds in one pocket, and a brace of gun to emerge from his trials, is a condensed tragedies in the other, supposing that the one will
set him up before the others are exhausted, is history of this painful period; but it is easy not a very novel, but a very laughable delusion. to perceive that, in mercy to them, he passes 'Twould' weary you, or I would carry you over the darkest scenes, or touches them so through a number of curious scenes into which lightly, as to disguise the depth of the misery it led me. Only imagine the modest young to which he had been exposed. We
Munsterman spouting his tragedy to a room full premise that the actor to whom he intrusted of literary ladies and gentlemen; some of high his play for presentation is believed to have that circle on that night was sweeter, far sweeter
consideration too. The applause however of been Mr. Macready.
to me, than would be the bravos of a whole
theatre at present, being united at the time to “ 15, Paddington Street, Regent's Park, the confident anticipation of it. One of the London, October 12th, 1825.
people present immediately got me an introduc"MY DEAR, EVER DEAR FATHER AND MOTHER, tion to * (I was offered several for -To make sure of your hearing from me now, all the actors.)
* I went, and he I send a second leiter. I have just received let down the pegs that made my music. He was from the editor of the Gazette, J. W—'s letter very polite, talked and chatted about himself, of the 6th of last August. By the merest chance and Shiel, and my friend - excellent friend in the world it reached me, as its direction was Banim. He kept my play four months, wrote indeed the most uncertain possible. Mary me some nonsensical apologies about keeping it Anne's I never got. Under the circumstances as so long, and cut off to Ireland, leaving orders to they appear to you, it is matter more of pain have it sent to my lodgings, without any opinion. than astonishment to me, that you should have I was quite surprised at this, and the more so, been so entirely at a loss in finding excusable as Banim, who is one of the most successful dramotives for my silence, and I have no objection matic writers, told me he was sure he would whatsoever to offer to J-'s 'unwilling sup- keep it: at the same time saying, what indeed I positions. It is one of those misfortunes (and found every person who had the least theatrical I hope the last of them) which the miserable knowledge join in, that I acted most unwisely in and galling life I have led since I came to Lon- putting a play into an actor's hands. But don, (until very lately,) has thrown on my enough of theatricals! Well, this disappointshoulders, and which of course I must endure ment sent me into the contrary extreme. I beas well as I can. But if you knew, my dear fore imagined I could do any thing; I now Mother, what that life has been, it would, I be thought I could do nothing. One supposition lieve, have led you to a less injurious conclusion was just as foolish as the other. It was then I
set about writing for these weekly publications; and I told him Joseph (Gerald's name in confirmaall of which, except the Literary Gazette, tion). This did not satisfy him. He invited me cheated me abominably. Then, finding this to to his house in the country, (a splendid place he be the case, I wrote for the great magazines. has got,) and I declined. He repeated the inMy articles were generally inserted; but on vitation—and at last finding I could not precalling for payment, seeing that I was a poor serve the incognito any longer, I left the pubinexperienced devil, there was so much shuffling lisher, and secured myself with him by making and shabby work that it disgusted me, and I myself known. I went to his country house, gave up the idea of making money that way. I and found him there with his wife-a very elenow lost heart for every thing; got into the gant woman and family; surrounded by harps, cheapest lodgings I could make out, and there harpsichords, pianos, piazzas, gardens, in fact a worked on, rather to divert my mind from the perfect palace within and without. He professed horrible gloom that I felt growing on me in the highest admiration for me, for which I did spite of myself, than with any hope of being re- not care one farthing; but that at first it led me munerated. This, and the recollection of the to suspect he had some design of cheating me at expense I had put William to, and the fears--the end; such is the way of the world; but I do that every moment became conviction—that I so much for him now that I have in some degree never should be enabled to fulfil his hopes or made myself necessary. I have the satisfaction to my own expectations, all came pressing to-see--and he sees it too-my articles quoted and gether upon my mind and made me miserable. commended in the daily papers ; satisfaction, I A thousand, and a thousand times I wished that say, as every thing of that kind gives me a firmer I could lie down quietly and die at once, and be hold of the paper. The theatrical department forgotten for ever. But that however was not is left altogether to me; and I mortify my reto be had for the asking. I don't think I left any vengeful spirit by invariably giving **** all thing undone that could have changed the course the applause he could expect, or in justice lay of affairs, or brought me a little portion of the claim to. I assure you I feel a philosophical good luck that was going on about me: but pride and comfort in thus proving to myself that good luck was too busy elsewhere. I can hard-my conduct is not to be influenced by that of ly describe to you the state of mind I was in at another, no matter how nearly the latter may this time. It was not an indolent despondency, affect my interests. Mr. W— the editor ' for I was working hard, and I am now-and it speak of, has this week given me a new engageis only now-receiving money for the labor of ment on a new weekly publication-and also on those dreadful hours. I used not to see a face one of the Quarterly Reviews of which he is that I knew, and after sitting writing all day, editor, that is, as he told me plainly enough, if when I walked in the streets in the evening it he liked my articles, that they should be inserted usually seemed to me as if I was of a different and paid for; and if not, sent back to me. I species altogether from the people about me. have sent one and he has kept it. This you must The fact was, from pure anxiety alone I was know is no slight honor, for all the other conmore than half dead, and would most certainly tributors are the very first men of the time. The have given up the ghost I believe, were it not review appears on the same day in four difthat by the merest accident on earth, the literary ferent languages, in four countries of Europe friend who had procured me the unfortunate in- Thus, things begin to look in smiles upon me at troduction a year before, dropped in one evening last. 'I have within the past fortnight cleared to have a talk' with me. I had not seen him, nor away the last of the debts I had incurred here, any body else that I knew, for some months, with the good fortune of meeting them in full and he frightened me by saying I looked like a time to prevent even a murmur. With the asghost. In a few days, however, a publisher of sistance of Heaven, I hope my actual embarhis acquaintance had got some things to do-rassments ('tis laughable to apply the words to works to arrange, regulate, and revise; so he such little matters as they are) have passed asked me if I would devote a few hours in the away for ever. Will you direct a letter for me, middle of every day to the purpose for £50 a my dear mother, to the address I have given year. I did so, and among other things which above, and as soon as you receive this? I have got to revise was a weekly fashionable jour- not seen a line from one of you since I came to nal. After I had read this for some weeks, I London. Let it be a long one, and contrive to said to myself, "Why, hang it, I am sure I can say something about every separate individual write better than this at any rate.' And at the of that dear circle to which my thoughts are consame time I knew that the contributors were stantly and affectionately wandering, and where well paid. I wrote some sketches of London I have resolved on wandering myself as soon as life, and sent them anonymously to the editor, the despotism of circumstances will allow. I offering to contribute without payment. He in- sometimes luxuriate in the prospect of being able serted the little sketches, and sent a very hand- to arrange matters with a publisher here, so that some sum to my anonymous address for them; a trip might set me down, at least as it found desiring me to continue, and he would always me; and such an arrangement it is not improbabe happy to pay for similar ones. This put me ble I may accomplish when I have established a
great spirits, and by the knowledge I had ac- better connection here. quired of literary people and transactions alto
“My dear Father and Mother, gether, I was enabled to manage in this in
" Your affectionate Son, stance, so as to secure a good engagement. The editor made several attempts to find me
5 Gerald Griffin." out. He asked my name plainly in one letter, 1-pp. 137-141.
He broke in
We could not bear to curtail this long but all his influence to forward his prospects, interesting letter. Throughout all his diffi- to whose friendly and persevering services culties, he seldom allowed himself to forget he was indebted for his eventual success. hope, which he calls “the sweetest cordial, And yet the same extreme sensitiveness, next to religion, with which Heaven qualifies which induced him to conceal his circumthe cup of calamity.” In the interval of stances from his own family, prevented him sunshine between the presentation of his from allowing Banim to know any thing of play and its final rejection, he turned him- his embarrassinents. He was keenly alive self to almost every other possible means of to all his kindness. “I should never be tired procuring a literary livelihood. First he of talking about and thinking of Banim," he sought employment as reporter in the law writes to his brother. And yet he could not courts; but, as the parliament was not sit- bring himself, we do not say to ask,
but even ting at the time, he found the profession to accept, when kindly offered, the slightest overstocked by the unengaged parliamentary pecuniary assistance from him. reporters : then he commenced, with a Spanish friend named Llanos, a series of trans- last-quoted letters, not gone near Mr. Banim’s
“Gerald had, as we have seen by one of the lations from Calderon, which they offered to house for the last two months, though frequently Colburn, but found to be “out of his line.” urged by the most pressing invitations, which Then he conceived the idea of translating he seems to have met by various excuses, that or modifying the Causes Célèbres of the were not even to himself satisfactory, and could French courts. The bookseller to whom he not of course appear so to his friend. This mentioned it, was caught by the idea ; but, made various conjectures to account for it
was so unusual an absence, that Mr. Banim before he could be induced to take it
the scheme was anticipated
without success; at length a light suddenly by another.
upon him, and he began to apprehend wrote for almost all the magazines, and his that the cause was a much more serious one than papers generally found a ready insertion ; any he had fallen upon. He instantly set out in but the payment was far less easily managed. search of him, but had much difficulty in ascerHe thought of reporting the celebrated trial taining his address, as he had not seen him for of Thurtell for the murder of Weare, which some time, and Gerald had, as we have seen, was then pending; but seems not to have changed his lodgings. At length, he found the found any one to undertake its publication. St. Paul's. Gerald was not at home. He called
place; a small room in some obscure court, near The most miserable drudgery of translation again next day. He was still out on his mission or compilation was eagerly caught at. He perhaps for more drudgery:'. He then questranslated a volume and a half of Prevolt's tioned the woman who kept his lodgings as to works for two guineas, and furnished a book- his condition and circumstances. These she seller in five days, with a pamphlet contain-spoke of in terms of pity; represented him as in ing as much matter as would fill an ordinary on the subject, but she was afraid he denied
great distress; said she had never spoken to him post octavo volume.
himself even the commonest necessaries, that he To complete his distress, the intelligence appeared in bad spirits, dressed but indifferently, which he received of the ill-health of his shut himself up for whole days together in his brother, Dr. Griffin, made him conceal his room, without sending her for any provision, real situation from those who would cheer- and when he went out, it was only at night-lall, fully have relieved him; and he suffered on knew. This was a very distressing picture, par
when he was likely to meet no one that he in silence, though never in absolute despair. ticularly when considered in connection with his “You have no idea what a heart-breaking with which it was going on. Mr. Banim imme
incommunicativeness, and the silent endurance life that of a young scribbler, beating about, and endeavoring to make his way in London, diately returned home, and wrote him a very is: going into a bookseller's shop, as I have kind letter, offering him some pecuniary assistoften done, and being obliged to praise up my ance, until he should be able to get over his preown manuscript, to induce him to look at it at sent difficulties. As I am not in possession all--for there is so much competition, that
either of this letter, or the one written in reply
person without a name will not even get a trial - to it, and as all that is characteristic in such things while he puts on his spectacles, and answers all depends more upon the manner almost, than your self-commendation with a “hum-um ; – the matter, it would not be quite fair to attempt a set of hardened villains! and yet at no time to give a version of them here, especially as the whatever could I have been prevailed upon to account I have had of the transaction was not quit London altogether. That horrid word received from Mr. Banim himself. It is suffifailure,-No!-death first!”—pp. 121-123.
cient to say that the offer was rejected, with a
degree of heat and sharpness which showed that It is pleasing to know, that amid all this feeling to which I have alluded, and that this
he had not succeeded in lulling the dangerous misery, he found a constant and zealous good-natured attempt proved so completely friend in our countryman, Banim, who used abortive, that there was evidently no use in
pursuing the matter further. The friends did correctly, panting to be permitted to toil, not meet again for some time; and the circum- would ever dream that the miserable state, stance occasioned a degree of estrangement not only of his finances but even of his wardwhich it was not easy to repair.”—pp. 129-131.
robe, which his excessive delicacy made him But we have been anticipating a little. seek to conceal, was preventing him from His first feeling, on Macready's returning his availing himself of the introductions by which tragedy, was disappointment, though, he says,
Banim sought to forward his fortunes, and he felt relieved to know that he was not even from applying to the booksellers for a
renewal of the wretched pittance of employdoomed to owe his success to “histrionic tronage." But he regained his wonted ener- ment, by which he had been striving to keep
soul and body together.* gy, and, by Banim's advice, commenced a
--we cannot transcribe the new play, on the story of Tancred and Sigis) “The fact is" munda, which, however, he soon abandoned poor fellow's words without emotion—" I am for that of Gisippus. This exquisite drama at present almost a complete prisoner : I was written in an incredibly short space of wait until dusk every evening to creep from time, and under the most singular disadvan- my mouse-hole and snatch a little fresh air tages . “You'd laugh,” he writes to his mo- think that I am here in the centre of a
on the bridge close by. Good heaven! to ther, “ if you saw how it was got through. wrote it all in coffee-houses, and on little mountain of wealth, almost upon Change, slips of paper, from which I afterwards cop- honest hand upon a stray draught of it, in its
and to have no opportunity of laying an ied it out."
But even for this admirable drama, so successful since the author's death, he * The following beautiful ode is a most touching was unable to procure a favorable reception; picture of his feelings in those hours of loneliness and he soon after abandoned dramatic litera- and desertion :ture altogether.
“ My soul is sick and lone, It is not easy to imagine the depths of suf
No social ties its love entwine, fering into which a mind like his, sensitive A heart upon a desert thrown to a painful degree, must have been plung
Beats not in solitude like mine : ed by the humiliations and heart-burnings to
For though the pleasant sunlight shine,
It shows no form that I may own, which he was constantly exposed; and it is
And closed to me is friendship’s shrine, hard to conceive how his constitution sustain
I am alone -I am alone! ed itself under the amount of physical labor be underwent. He was often kept drudging
" It is no joy for me until four, and even five, in the morning, and
To mark the fond and eager meeting
Of friends whom absence pined—and see seldom got to bed before three, unless when
The love-lit eyes speak out their greeting. -(for sickness, too, was added to his cup of For then a stilly voice repeating, trial)—" he happened to doctor himself, What oft hath woke its deepest moan, which was not often.” Can we wonder that
Startles my heart, and stays its beating,
I am alone!-I am alone! in scenes like these, his young aspirings after fame were chilled almost into indifference, “Why hath my soul been given or, rather, positive disgust ?
A zeal to soar at higher things,
Than quiet rest—to seek a heaven " As to fame, if I could accomplish it in any
And fall with scathed heart and wings.
Have I been blest ? the sea-wave sings, way, I should scarcely try for its sake alone. I believe it is the case with almost every body, be
'Tween mine and all that was mine own, fore they succeed, to wear away all relish for it
I've found the joy ambition brings,
And walk alone! and walk alone! in the exertion. I have seen enough of literature and literary men to know what it is: and I
“ I have a heart! I'd live, feel convinced that, at the best, and with the And die for him whose worth I knewhighest reputation, a man might make himself But could not clasp his hand and give as happy in other walks of life. I see those who
My full heart forth as talkers do. have got it as indifferent about it, as if totally And they who loved me, the kind few, unknown, while at the same time they like to Believed me changed in heart and tone, add to it. But money! money is the grand ob- And left me, while it burned as true, ject-the all in all. I am not avaricious, but I
To live alone!-to live alone!see they are the happiest who are making the
"And such shall be my day most, and am so convinced of the reality of its blessings, that if I could make a fortune by split
Of life, unfriended, cold, and dead,
My hope shall slowly wear away, ting malches, I think I never would put a word
As all my young affectious fied. la print."—p. 117.
No kindred hand shall grace my head,
When life's last flickering light is gone ; How few of those for whose intellectual But I shall find a silent bed, enjoyment he was toiling, or, to speak more
And die alone !-and die alone !