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In the street-mire I found-thence caught it up,
Home, Phryne-he-does he walk homeward with you ?
Now, to be less or greater, I renounce it.
(Exeunt Sylla, Julius, and Phryne : Sylla's arm round
Phryne ; curlain falls while all the rest gaze after him.," This tragedy, although completed in the year 1827, was not offered for representation until the spring of 1837, and was performed at the Theatre Royal, Hawkins' Street, Dublin, in the month of June, of the last named year. Of its cast, and reception, we shall write at the proper time.
Whilst laboring in the old track, with hopes bright and buoyant, amid pains and wants, he lived, but in the terrible battle against those ever recurring illnesses of which he so often writes, yet so seldom complains. And now, to his own woes, were added that weak and uncertain health which preyed upon his Ellen. "Repose,” said the physician, “is necessary
. for both.” But where was repose for the deep heart that knew no joy save that which sprang from honest, noble, mental work what repose was for one whose support was wrung from energetic thought,from,as he wrote, “teazing the brain as wool-combers teaze wool, to keep the fire in and the pot boiling.” When they told him of repose, of rest, of change of air, and scene, and when he marked his own worn and haggard face, which Michael describes as “making him look fully forty though little more than twenty," how bitterly he must have applied to himself the lines of the Prisoner of Chillon,
My limbs are bowed, though not with toil,
But rusted by a vile repose," for, be it remembered, whilst he could write, whilst unthreatened by his physician, he had few regrets; but how sadly must he not have felt whilst writing the following letter to Michael :
London, February 3rd, 1827. My dear Michael,
For the last week I have been projecting a visit to the southern coast with Ellen, for both our sakes, and under advice. In fact we both require good air, and every thing else calculated to give a new stock of health. Since my last I have suffered much in a relapse, and, though again relieved from absolute pain, remain exhausted and feeble.
This projected visit was not made, for with some few days of revived health carne new projects, and now, as in latter years, Banim ever longed to escape the thought that his strength
In these times of which we write John Sterling was rising into that reputation so short-lived vet so brilliant, and of which Thomas Carlyle and the late Archideacon Ilare have given us such interesting memorials : young, witty, earnest and goodnatured, Banim and Sterling were formed to love each other; and it is worthy of notice, that amongst all the portraits made of Sterling by his artist-friends, a little sketcli by Banim is considered the most spirited and truthful. The regard of each for cach tas warm and open, and in the following letter to Michael we gather some knowledge of the sympathies by which they were mutually bound. One can faucy Jolin Sterling joining in a debate at the famous Union on “the Catholic
“ Question," and laughing more loudly than Peter Plymley at the arguments of the anti-emancipationists :
"London, March 1st, 1827. My dear Michael,
Soon after my last to you I got so well that instead of ranning down to Hastings as I had intended, I accompanied, ou a visit to Cambridge, a young friend of mine, Mr. Jolin Sterling, a talented member of the University. I was present at a debate on the Catholic Question at their Union. I give this piece of intelligence, apprebensive that you may be terrified at my silence. Jy excursion has agreed with me; I am now weil, and so is Ellen.
The attentious shewn me at the Alma Mater of England, and the great interest they take in Ireland, were very gratifying, and joined to pure air and generous excitement, have made nie a new man in point of spirit and nerve.
Write instanter to
Abel O'Hara.” Poor Abel O'Har! Just six weeks after the writing of this buoyant-toned letter, bitter, bitter sorrows are upon his noble heart. The terrible tortures of bis limbs have returned; painful remedies have been prescribed and endured, but with little effect. His wife is sick; lis furniture has been taken in execution for debts incurred during his former and present illness; his peu is idle; his mother is ill, and yet he can, amidst all his many cares, show gleamings of the ever living love of literature, can urge Michael to renewed exertion, and, most beautiful trait of all, lie rejoices that in the new edition of The Nowlans, the too highly colored scenes of ardent
passion are altered and amended. The letter is as follows:
London, April 13th, 1827. My dear Michael,
After all my resolutions, I have not been able to leave London hitherto, and I know you will be sorry to hear the cause. Continued attacks of my old complaint in the limbs, producing almost the command of my medical advisers, not to go to the country till I had fully tried the effects of galvanic operations : these are now ended with, I hope, some good resuit, and our seats taken to Hastings for tomorrow morning.
I believe I before told you, that I have not been allowed to exert myself since the commencement of this attack. Now I have to inform you (God be praised) that to the present day I have remained almost idle; so that every thing connected with our future prospects depends on you—that is, if you have not a new series of tales, ready to be transcribed by me against the lst of July, we must be out of the market.
After the loss of my furniture in Sloane-street, my idleness ever since, and the joint expenses of Ellen's medical men and mine and apothecaries which is immense, to say nothing of living meantime my banker's account must be materially influenced. In fact, if I had a bit of despondency in me, this heavy visitation of sickness, with its consequences, would make me hang my head. But be assured, I still keep a stout heart, and a hope, not without reason, in the future.
In the second edition of the second series of our tales, just out, I have corrected some of the niore glaring improprieties of the first. Again, as to your contemplated three volumes, you have been turning the matter long enough in your mind to be able to go to work, and you must not conclude that every thing which displeascs you is bad, or vice versa is so, No man ever fully completed bis own original thought.
Need I say how grieved I was to hear of iny mother's attack. This weather will make her better; at all events if I did not sympathise with her in spirit, I did in body; that is not much comfort to either of us."
To an appeal so touching, so pathetic as this, Michael Baniin could not be insensible. “Froin time to time," he writes to us, " during the year 1826, and in the first months of 1827, I directed all my leisure hours to the composition of a three volume novel, and the result of my labors was the Third Series of Tales By The O'Hara Family—the novel known as The Croppy. This, like my former tale, passed through my brother's hands previous to publication.” It was almost completed when the last melancholy letter reached Michael; the manuscript was forthwith dispatched to London, and from Eastbourne, whither after the date of his last letter, he had removed, John addressed the following letter to his brother ;
“45 Sea Houses, Eastbourne, June 20th, 1827. My dear Michael,
When last I wrote, I told you I proposed being in town the 1st of June. and asked you to send your manuscripts to Colburn. Accordingly on the first of June I was in town, and I got the manuscripts the second; such it is worthy of remark are the blessings of punctuality, such the agreeable effect of two people being able to rely on each other in their arrangements.
Days, after my return to Eastbourne, were exclusively devoted to a careful perusal, or rather to careful perusals of
Your anticipations of failure, though they did not convince, put me on my guard against deciding too partially, and precisely, as I felt, I now candidly assure you, that I think you need not apprehend failure in this your trial.”
The opinion here expressed of The Croppy was fully supported by the opinion of the public it was, and most justly, considered fully equal in merit to any of the fictions written by The O'Hara Family.
Rendered somewhat easy in mind by the assurance that the reputation of The O'Hara Family was secured for the present, Banim's satisfaction was increased at the same period by the birth of a daughter. He thus announced the event to his mother :
“ Eastbourne, Sussex, July 22nd, 1827. My Dearest Mother,
I have to inform you that on Friday night last you became grandmother to a big daughter-who gives such proof of lungs, as to disturb the whole village. Amongst the multitude of women now congregated about me, I go for very little
I indeed, in fact I seem of no importance whatever in their eyes."
Banim had been long anxious that Michael should visit him, and now he urged the matter specially, and claimed the visit as one due to him in honor of his child, and as a welcome to her. Referring to this period Michael writes to us thus:-
“In fulfilment of a year old promise, I joined the father and mother of the big daughter,' in the August of 1827, at the sea-side village of Eastbourne, in Sussex,-When I visited him in 1825, I had observed a sad change in his appearance: he now looked as if twenty years bad elapsed since we met. He was stooped : his face (all except the ege) was that of an elderly man, and even with the aid of a stick, he could not walk one hundred yards at a stretch. Notwithstanding, I found him still hearty and joyous, and hoping against all probability for recovery. Of course I did not act so unfeelingly as to undeceive him by giving my own conviction. He removed from Eastbourne to Seven Oaks in Kent, when the winter approached and the sea breeze began too frequently to roar and lash the waters ; his health seemed to improve with the change of weather.
I remained as his guest from August to November, and during this time, I put the last volume of “The Croppy.' out of my hands, reading for him every evening, the result of the day's work, and adopting his suggestions as I went on.
I read in MS. at the same time, the rough copy of a tale, which he had put together between whiles and in the lapses between his attacks of pain. This was done without the knowledge of the doctors. He could not submit to the sentence of positive idleness: the tale I allude to published the year following under the title of The AngloIrish It was of a different character from the O'Hara .
' Tales,' and was not announced as proceeding from the same authors.
I cannot say how the 'Anglo-Irish' was received-I believe indifferently. The full power of the writer's mind was not brought to bear on it ; unhappily there was a physical inability to strain the brain to its tension at the time it was written.'
The reader will remember that a coldness, arising from mis. conception, had estranged Gerald Griffin and Banim, in the year 1926, and all correspondence between them had ceased. However, in October, 1827, the following letters were written :