Imágenes de páginas

had just died in the Meath Hospital, associated with the most wretched outcasts of society, and indebted to a public charity for a bed and shelter, in his dying moments. “I hastened to the Hospital to ascertain if this report were correct. There, for the first time, I beheld James Clarence Mangan. Wrapped in a winding sheet, and stretched upon the table of the Dead House, lay the poet, whose works had so long formed the theme of universal admiration, an attenuated corpse, wasted to a skeleton, by want, sickness, and misery, and despair.”

Moore--the brilliant, sparkling Bard of Erin-read in the newspapers, the account of Mangan’s death, and probably sighed as he thought of Ireland's ungrateful neglect of genius Moore has now been dead some years, and where is the English tourist to look for that Testimonial to his memory, which everybody who read the proceedings at Charlemont House on March 31, 1852, imagined would have been erected before the expiration of the year?' The English traveller in Ireland visits the old house in Aungier-street where Moore first drew breath-he gazes upon the grave of Emmet, “ where cold and unhonoured his relics are laid " he visits Avoca, than which “there is not in the wide world a valley so sweet,”-he stands upon the Hill of Tara, and imagines he hears the thrilling tones of the Irish Harp rushing through the Halls of Celtic Royalty he wanders along “Lough Neagh's banks," enraptured by the prospect, and ruminating mournfully on Moore's dead genius, once so bright and powerful—he goes, of course, to Killarney, lands on Innisfallen, "where erring man might hope to rest,” beholds on every side the theme of Moore's grandest melodies, and can it be wondered that he asks reproachfully to be shewn the Testimonial to him, who gave to Ireland's history, wrongs, and beauty, a European fame.

Almost every continental town proudly displays in its grand square, or market place, the statue of whatever remarkable man was born there. Bonn has its Beethoven ; Antwerp, its Rubens; Frankfort, its Goethe ; Paris, its Cuvier, and Moliere. Swift has been dead 110 years. Where is his statue? He left his property to endow a Dublin Hospital. Have we been grateful ?

The cenotaph to Grattan should not be hidden in that gloomy monument of national depression-the once “ Royal Exchange." Grattan, as an Irish patriot, is better worth a pedestal in Sackville. street, tban Horatio Lord Nelson, as an English admiral. Let Dublin assert its dignity and gratitude. Has Scotland neglected to raise a colossal monument to Scott, in Edinburgh, to Motherwell, in Glasgow, or to Burns' genius, by the banks of the Doon? As to London, Mr. W. Savage Landor, in his recent appeal on behalf of the great-grand-son of Defoe, declares that the city is choked with statues—“Demagogues and adventurers, in brass tunics, at every street corner."

In 1843, O'Connell looked down in the zenith of his power, on the grateful adoring, millions who surged around him. Four

The Moore Committee, after a silence almost of years, have advertised a Meeting in Charlemont House, for Tuesday, February 12.-ED. I. Q. R

years after and the once all-powerful Tribune lay mouldering in Glasnevin. No surging, uproarious multitude deluged his grave with tears. A solitary loiterer, perchance, paused to gaze. Quietude reigned unbroken throughout the city of the dead. Within its walls thousands who had often cheered O'Connell, lay cold themselves. Without, the living people slumbered in the apathy of a false prosperity. For years no effort was made to raise a stone over O'Connell!

Does Ireland know that her greatest male novelist is John Banim ? Is she aware that in England he is styled “the Hibernian Scott ?" Can she read, unmoved, the following appeal from Banin's Biographer ?-“When dying, be said, I have only one request nowlay me so that I may be nearest to my mother_with my left side next her. And so they buried him more than twelve years ago, and se for twelve years he has lain without stone or monument to mark his grave. Thomas Hood died in 1845, he has a public monument. Moir, Blackwood's Delta,' died in 1851–he has a public monument. Have these examples of public gratitude no teaching for Irishmen? Must Michael Banim drag from his own small funds, the money to purchase a tombstone for John Banim's grave ?

Maria Edgeworth was the greatest of Irish female novelists. It was her example that stimulated into action the pen of Walter Scott. How long will Ireland take to consider that some monumental memorial of her services, would, while dignifying the land, show we can appreciate native greatness.

The remains of Gerald Griffin, unlike Banim's, have been honoured not only with a head-stone, but an inscription. Few know where to find it. A friend, who from his youth has been an ardent admirer of the intellect that produced “The Collegians," lately wrote to me from Cork to say, that sauntering through the north monastery he found in a small cemetery containing six tombs--poor Griffin's simple shrine. Sad to say, that were it not for the Christian Brothers whom he died among, he would probably still be without one. The Inscription is simply, “ Brother Gerald Joseph Griffin, died June 12, 1840, aged 36 years.—May he rest in peace. Amen."

I call upon the Irish newspaper press to arouse the people from their worse than stupid lethargy, which like rust on a bright metallic body, the longer it is suffered to continue, the thicker, and intenser, must become, its corrosive, overwhelming nature !"—W.J. F.

November 10th, 1855.

Since Mr. Fitzpatrick's letter appeared, we are glad to see that a considerable effort has been made by the Bar, to raise some fitting monumental testimonial to the memory of William Conyngham Lord Plunkett. We hope that a prolonged slumber may not succeedas it too often does in Ireland - this national and commendable effort. The Bar meeting-brightened by the auspices of Napier, Staples, O'Hagan, Butt, and Brewster_was held on Tuesday, November 27th. We have heardnothing of their generous project sinee...Ed.


The Priest's Niece ; or, the Heirship of Barnulph.

By the Author of " Lionel Deerhurst." Three Vols. Second Edition.

London: Hurst and Blackett, 1955. Who is there that has not at some period of, if not all through, his life, delighted in the creations of the novelist; or lived a bright hour of elysium amidst the fancies of the romancist. The child begins his romance reading with Gulliver, and Crusoe, and The Giant Killer; the school-boy steals away from the frequented play-ground to revel, in the seclusion of some quiet haunt, over the wonders of that ever wondrous book, that concentration of all “Romance and Fairy Fable.”—The Arabian Nights,-and so, as years pass on, the boy becomes a man, and the novel becomes still dearer, for fair young faces and bright eyes, showing every change of thought and feeling are bending over its pages with him; and then, as other years roll away, and gray hairs are marking the course of time, he still, with a fresh heart, turns to the volumes loved in past-by days, and feels, as John Dunlop, in his History of Fiction, truly observes, that "life has few things better, than sitting at the chimney-corner in a winter evening, after a well spent day, and reading an interesting romance or novel.”

What Dunlop thus wrote, forty-two years ago, was true of his age; it was true in every age since the invention of printing ; from that epoch, fiction has been the solace of the weary, the soother of the sick, the refuge of those whom the “coy dame," sleep deserts. Chaucer tells us :

“Upon my bed I sate upright ;
A Romaunce, and he me it took

To read and drive the night away:and the “Romaunce,” with which he thus forgot his sleeplessness, and drove the night away, was composed of

“ Fables That clerkis had, in old time,

And other poets, put in rhyme" it was Ovid's Metamorphoses.

And yet, through all the changes of all the years since the epoch of printing, it is interesting to observe how thoroughly, and how throughly, the spirit of each age is represented by its romantic literature. We find proofs of this assertion in every romance, from those preserved by Tressan in his . Corps l'Extraits de Romans de Chevalerie, to Sir Thomas Malony's Horte d'Arthur; from Vasco de Lobeira's Amadis de Gaul to Lord Berners' Chevalier de la Cygne; in Honoré d'Urfé's Astrea and in Sir Philip Sydney's Arcadia; from Fielding and Goldsinith to Dickens and Thackeray ; from Miss Burney to Mrs. Trollope. In all the works of all these writers we see the taste and mould of their time, in all the phases of its literary taste, always following, never leading; and declaring, with their brethren of the stage, that

they who live to please, must please to live.". Novels, and fiction generally, being thus so widely and extensively admired in all ages, it seems strange that in this, the most reading era of all, the demand should not have had its usual effect, the creation of a supply of the best material. Doubtless we have romances of every order and division of subject, from Reynolds' Mysteries of the Court, to Macaulay's History of England ; from Mrs. Ellis's Mothers, Wires, Daughters, and relatives generally, and with a high, and frightfully moral purpose, to Cardinal Wiseinan's Last Days of Pompeii, and water-novel, Fabiola. Dr. Cumming roinances about the religious present, and the Cardinal romances about the Christian past. True it is, that the servant-maid has her London Journal, and the maid's mistress has her Little Dorrit; the servant-man has his Joseph Price and his Reynolds' Miscellany, just as the master has his Newcomes and his Bell's Life: there is great demand and vast supply, but, does the supply prove that, amidst allour writers of fiction, inoral or immoral, religious or profane,grave or comic, we possess a single Great Novelist? Aurelia Murphy, fresh from a "good cry,” over the loves of the impossible Copperfield, and the liliputian Dora with the curls, and the lap-dog with the ears, exclaims, “ yes, Dickens.” Augustus Mullowney, of the Sallynoggin Fencibles, who fancies himself quite a “heavy." of the Rawdon Crawley school, shouts, "I believe you, my boy, Thackery is the ticket. Young Casey, who is a scholar in the Catholic University, cries, "ycs, the Cardinal, who is great in everything, is a great novelist,

[ocr errors][merged small]

although he will not describe the charms of his heroine;" the Rev. Patrick Muldon, late R. C. C in Connaught, now a light of the Priests' Protection Society, thunders, “yes, Lever, and the author of Poar Paddy's Cabin, are great authors; the roué, remembering the seduetion-made-easy of Ernest Maltravers, declares for Bulwer; the fashionable young wife votes for Mrs. Gore; whilst the bitter, coarse sarcasm of Mrs. Trollope finds a warm supporter in the hopeless old maid, or the superannuated dowager.

We have here endeavoured to indicate, by types of each class of readers, the phases of mind by which each class is swayed in forming an opinion of its favorite novelist. But if these opinions, grounded only on the degree of amusement, or mere mental distraction from thoughtful self-recollection, always a burthen to the great mass of the frivolous or the careless, be taken as the standard of merit in a writer of fiction, then the poorest trash of the circulating library must be admitted as excellent,—Ivanhoe must give place to The Coral Island, and The History of a Foundling must make room for The History of a Servant Maid.

But we protest against this substitution of feeling for judg. ment; this species of criticism worthy only a school-girl, who skips all the descriptive and reflective passages, and who, arriving at the midst of the second volume, passes to the conclusion of the third to anticipate the denouement.

Doubtless, it may be aids, a novel is only meant to amuse. We admit, if it make you forget the passing of time ; if you are quite astonished by the announcement of dinner if

you are forced to abandon your after dinner nap in your anxiety to follow the novelist through his fancy-created world, all these things prove that the novel interests you, but it does not prove the writer of the fiction a great novelist.

What is a great novelist? One who, selecting his plot with care and deliberation, selects one adapted to his own peculiar genius for developement, and execution, and completion. One who, having selected his plot, proceeds with it, naturally, to the end.

One whose characters are the real men and women of the period in which the action of the tale is laid They must be the flesh and blood of their time; they must not be the quips of the author's brain if coinic characters; they must not be his dream-children if pathetic: the light of life must be about each prominent character, and the denouement must


« AnteriorContinuar »