« PreviousContinue »
In closing our present paper, we consider it but just to mention the name of The Right Honorable Alexander Macdonnell, Resident Commissioner of the Board of Irish National Education, to whom the adult portion of the working classes of this city is deeply indebted for the part he has taken in encouraging Evening Schools.-Frequently has he contri. buted from his private purse to their support, and his benevolence to many a poor and hard-working teacher is too well known to call forth any comments from us. With his name we feel justified in coupling those of Dean Meyler, Commissioner of National Education ; and the Rev. Mr. Farrell,* manager of the Andrean Male National School. These gentlemen have been indefatigable in promoting the cause of National Education, and well may they be proud of the signal success that has attended their united efforts in endeavouring to place the schools of their parish on a footing with some of the best organized schools under the Commissioner of National Education. We should not omit mentioning here the name of The Rev. Dr. Flanagan, who for many years supported, at his own expense, an Evening School, which was attended by a very large number of the laboring poor. We regret that this school has been closed for some time, owing to this liberal gentleman's funds being exhausted.
* See Beport on the admirably-conducted Ragged School under the management of this gentleman, given in IRISI QUARTERLY REVIEW, Vol. IV., No. 16, p. 1237.
ART. II.-JOHN BANIM.
PART IV. “TALES BY THE O'HARA FAMILY" PUT TO PRESS. THE
BOYNE WATER" COMMENCED. A PUBLISHER'S RUSE. TALES BY THE O'HARA FAMILY" PUBLISHED. THEIR SUCCESS. SHARE OF MICHAEL AND JOHN BANIM IN THE SERIES. LETTERS. SICKNESS OF MRS. BANIM. SLIGHT RETURN OF HIS OWN ILLNESS. LETTERS. PROGRESS OF THE BOYNE
VISIT OF JOHN BANIM TO DERRY. TOUR OF MICHAEL BANIM THROUGH THE COUNTY LIMERICK. EACH BROTHER COLLECTING MATERIALS FOR THE BOYNE WATER, LETTERS. ENGAGEMENTS WITH ARNOLD OF THE ENGLISH OPERA HOUSE. LETTERS FROM GERALD GRIFFIN. FRIENDSHIP BETWEEN HIM AND BANIM. VISIT OF JOHN BANIM TO KILKENNY. MICHAEL'S ACCOUNT OF IT. LETTERS. PUBLICATION OF THE BOYNE WATER.” LETTERS. SECOND MISUNDERSTANDING WITH GERALD GRIFFIN. NOWLANS" COMMENCED. LETTERS. RELIGIOUS FEELINGS. HOME THOUGHTS. LETTERS,
In the other parts of this Biography* we related the various phases, sometimes sunny and frequently clouded, marking the life of John Bauim, and we paused in that epoch of his life-history in which, when in his twenty-sixth year, he had completed The Tales By The O'Hara Family, and bad succeeded in obtaining a publisher. Now had come the time for which, through all the sorrows of the weary past, he had toiled and hoped. True, it was not his first triumphhe had known that joy which elevates the dramatist when his thoughts are filling the hearts of an enraptured audience : he had heard great actors in his Damon and Pythias, and, as some noble passage in the play had charmed the listeners, he had seen the surging, swaying crowds applauding to the echu. But this was a triumph too uncertain, and too much dependent upon the mass-and, in the probable success of The O'Hara Tales, he fancied that he saw the brightest dream-land of his brightest reverie-fame, competence secured, a happy home for Ellen, for his mother, for allthe full fruition of that
* See IRISH QUARTERLY REVIEW, Vol. IV. No. 14, p. 270; No. 15, p. 527; and No. 16, p, 825.
charming wish which he expressed to Michael when he wrote: “That my dear Ellen, and my dear Joanna, should live together in love and unity, is my great wish and my hope too. To see them working, or reading, or making their womanly fuss near me, and under my roof, and mutually tolerating and helping each other, and never talking load. And my mother, my dear, dear mother, sitting in her arm chair looking at them, with her old times placid smile; and my father and you doing whatever you liked.' Tush! Perhaps this is foolish and utopian of me. Yet we must live together : that is the blessed truth, Such a set of people were not born to dwell asunder. And, perhaps, the old times would come back again after all. What is the reason, I ask, that, after a little while, we should not club our means, and dwell, as Mr. Owen preaches, in one big house, every mother's son and daughter of us; and have good feeling, good taste, and econoiny presiding over us? More unlikely things have happened. After the world is seen, it does not bear to be gaped at every day; and the only true aim of a rational creature ought to be, humble independence on any scale, and the interchange of those little and tireless amiabilities, that in a loving, and virtuous, and temperate circle, make life indeed worth living for to
And without these life is a compulsion : a necessity to breathe without enjoyment-to sweat without a reward.”
These were his hopes and heartiest wishes-success in literature could alone for him secure their attainment, and once attained, life would be to him fair
“A light upon the shining sea.” . But, even whilst correcting the proof sheets of the first series of The Tales, he was preparing materials for a novel, and he wrote thus to his brother :
“ London, January 17th, 1825. My dear Michael,
I am reading hard for a three-volume tale, and, if our present venture succeed, I may hope for a fair price."
He was not however at all forgetful of his success as a dramatist, and he still negociated for the production of The Prodigal at Covent Garden Theatre, having, as we have already related, failed in inducing Elliston to accept it for Drury Lane. *
But in this attempt he was, as the reader has See IBIsu QUARTERLY Keview, Vol. No. 16. IV. p. 861.
been informed, unsuccessful, owing to disagreements with Edmund Kean.
Disappointments connected with this tragedy were not his only causes of uneasiness. Mrs. Banim's health had not improved, and she was directed by her physician to pass a short period in France. In the following letter Banim describes his position, his cares, his hopes, and his expectations. The old kindly home love is bright as ever-whether in joy or sorrow; struggling or prosperous-home, his wife and his mother are always at his heart. And yet how strange it seems that his love should cling so firmly to those scenes where he had known many sorrows, many pains, and, save in childhood, no joys. Can it be that this thought of the lamented Arthur Henry Hallam is true, and that “ Pain is the deepest thing that we have in our nature, and union through pain has always seemed more real and more holy than any other.” Thus, at all events, John Banim wrote to his father :
“ London, January 28th, 1825. My dear Father,
'I have to inform you, that I have kept back at Covent Garden to watch the fate of a play by This play I judged would not succeed, and my judgment has proved good. It was repeated only twice. I may expect to come on, when Young returns to his engagement, in about six weeks. The stage apart for a moment, pleasant little matters are recurring elsewhere. Our publishers, being highly pleased with the matter now in progress, engage liberal terms, should our ven. ture have luck. Yesterday I received a proof of their good opinion, in the shape of a handsome snuff-box, with which I intend to present you when we meet. So far, my dear father, with other seasonable assistance from my good friend Mr. Arnold, who receives my small theatrical pieces freely, I am very comfortable, considering that I have had to win my way in a scramble, where no human being was interested to lend me a hand. I think I have not altogether done badly. I have been here three years, and I do not owe a shilling. I am now esteemed in the market. Alas! literature is a marketable commodity, as well as any other ware, and sells according to its quality. But, if able, my regular business will soon send me to Ireland, and afford me the happiness of embracing my family.
One regret I must feel during my visit; I shall not be ac
companied by her who has for three years been the sharer of my struggles the only friend in my exile. Ellen has been ordered to seek a milder clime for a while, and I must convey her to France for a period. She is not very or dangerously ill: I send a medical certificate to her father to convince him of this, but still her removal has been pronounced necessary, and I owe her too much to counteract the injunctions of her physician.
Michael gave me charming assurances in his last letter of my dear mother's good health. Were she ever so ill, I know the expectation of seeing ME (you see I am growing riotous in my own good opinion) will speedily make her well."
He accompanied his wife to France, and having secured apartments for her, he returned to London, and to its labors. In the following letter, written a few days after he had reached London, he informs Michael of the progress of The Tales through the press, and hints at his returning illness :
" London, May 9th, 1825. My dear Michael,
I remained scarce a day in France after I saw Ellen housed: yet short as was my absence from London, matters got into a pretty pickle with the printers before I came back.
The labor of getting Crohoore' through the ordeal has been hideous: almost every sheet of him came back to me three or four times. It is tremendous work to compel English types to shape themselves into Irish words. Happily he is now equipped for his debut, as well as I can shape him. The Fetches' is disposed of also, and I am through the first hundred pages of the last volume. I have been leading a solitary life since my wife left me: but no help for that. To keep me alive I have plenty of work on hand, and there are fair prospects in view. My health has been only tolerable; as Shakespeare hath it,
The moon, the governess of floods,
That rheumatic diseases do abound.' I greatly dread and fear mother has also had her visitation, if the weather has been such in Ireland as we have had here.”
Upon the eve of the publication of The Tales the next letter was addressed by John Banim to his brother, and in it he de