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tion. So I set to work for the best advice. You were right in saying that the pains are not at all rheumatic or gouty. My most excellent, as well as eminent, medical friend, after a long examination of me, touching my pursuits and mode of life for some years, and a careful consideration of the symptoms, decides that the brain pan, or my substitute for such, has been overworked ; and that nervous debility, locally producing my ailment, has been the result. His treatment is preventive as well as stimulating. I am interdicted from much study of any kind; desired to take my ease; to live well, at the same time that I swallow tonics, and subunit my poor body to the shower bath. My dear Michael, this is a hard sentence against me. If I am not to study, what am I to do? But let me not murmur. Let me not forget the goodness of God to one so unbefriended as I was, nor anticipate the withdrawal of his guardianship. With his help I shall mend, and the prospect
I will brighten again.
By the way, I shall never forget the first morning I took a shower bath. A shock I had reckoned on, but for the tremendous one I felt, my mind had made no provision. I had scarcely touched the string, and brought down the first shower, when I manfully plunged straight forward, bursting open the door of the bath, and allowing the water to inundate the room. To heighten the scene, Ellen and a favourite cat were slumbering in bed in the next apartment, and when they heard the mixed commotion, they repeatedly mani. fested, each in her own way, their extreme astonishment and alarm thereat.
To return; I said I am much better, and but for the diabolical London weather that surrounds me, enough to relax the system of the big metal Achilles in Hyde Park, I should be better still.
It is some time since I have written to you : I did not care to annoy you when I was very ill, and I dare not, after my engagement, misrepresent facts. As far as acute torture, sleepless nights, and total prostration of frame could go, my worst enemies need not have wished me to suffer more.
The second series go on right well; but the publisher says they are too strongly written, too harrowing, and, in parts, too warm and impure. The latter portion of this judgment, I regret to say, is merited. I have made a mistake, and must not again fall into the same error.
Now a word or two as to yourself. I like the sketch you have sent me extremely well. You tell me you have read extensively, and that you have good materials for a story, if you thought yourself able to turn them to account. I tell you that you are able. One of your greatest drawbacks is your mean opinion of yourself. If we do not feel that we have power we will not attempt to exercise it. I saw and said from the beginning, from my view of your first scrap of Crohoore, that you had the requisite qualifications; and now, when my opinion has been strengthened by that of the public, I urge you to think better of yourself-go on with your intended tale-I will bandle it as before-have confidence in yourself, and, with God's help, the result will please you.
Now—here goes for an effort : I will walk to the next post office as well as I can, to drop in this letter, then home to a rib of beef, and then the people over the water--hip, hip, hurra! This with best heart's love from Ellen and from
J. B." “ The last paragraph of this letter," writes Michael, “ may require explanation.
“At home in Kilkenny, as the clock struck six on each Christmas evening, all glasses were filled to the brim : when the last vibration ceased, my father raised his bumper, and gave the toast *HEALTH AND LONG LIFE TO POOR JOHN AND ELLEN FAR AWAY.' By agreement, as the clock struck the same hour in London (we overlooked the difference of time) there was the answering toast of
• HEALTH AND HAPPINESS TO ALL AT HOME.' Even when our mother was no longer able to leave her bed her glass of wine was brought to her, and she joined in the pledge from the inner room."
The succeeding portions of this Biography are the records of the most interesting periods of John Banim's existence. To many friends of his, who have, since our last paper appeared, commudicated with us, our sincerest thanks are given, for details of incidents connected with various events occurring in the years of which we have yet to write. In all these details, in all the materials for this Biography in our possession, we find the same spirit of independence pervading each ; an in
domitable resolution to work—to work despite bodily pain-to make that great truth, LABORARE Est ORARE, the guiding principle of each day's toil. “Many men," writes Julius Hare, “spend their lives in gazing at their own shadows, and so dwindle away into shadows thereof." Not thus John Banim; he had hopes and aspirations, but no shadows; shadows are but the fancy-created children of day-dreamers, and pass away as we enter upon the reality of the world—its honest toils, its earnest efforts.
And if it shall be said that in Banim's fiction there is too much of the sombre hue; that pain and grief are too frequently, with the fiercer passions, made the topics of his novels, the reader will ask, are not these the points in the drama of existence; was not John Banim writing the innermost experiences of his own soul and of his own feelings ; was he not proving by writing thus that thought expressed by Henry Taylor, “Out of the heart are the issues of life, and out of the life are the issues of poetry"- that is of genius?
ART. III.-THE POETS OF LABOR.
1. Poems. By Robert Nicoll. Second Edition : With
Numerous Additions, and a Memoir of the Author.
Edinburgh : Tait. 1842. 2. The Ballad of Babe Christabel, with other Lyrical Poems.
By Gerald Massey. Fourth Edition : Revised and En
larged. London: Bogue. 1851. . We have, in The Irisu QUARTERLY REVIEW, written of the poets of Conviviality and of the poets of Fashion,* and why should we not write of the poets of Labor: not, of necessity, of those who have sung of Labor, but of those who, springing from the sons of toil, have obeyed the instinct of Genius, and have burst into song?, Where can we find love, and kindness, and self-denial, and heroic patience, shining with so glowing a glory as amongst the poor? True, they have their vices, the clouds upon their brightness, as have the rich-there are foul quagmires upon the hills as well as in the valleys—but in the deep feelings with which our great common
• See Vol. III., No 9, p. 120 : Do. No. 11, p.
mother, Nature, imbues us, she gives to the poor, through the harsh training of suffering, the most exquisite sense, the most perfect acquaintance with all the joys and woes, the smiles and tears of life. True, these feelings and experiences can not produce a poet who will compose an epic poem—but every day existence has nothing epic about it.
But although this life of the poor may not be epic in its traits, it has pathos and passion, such as the lives of the rich can never present. There is not an alley of our cities, not a hamlet of our counties, but has its humble households where, amidst the lowly, sordid, grasping cares of busy life, great deeds of holy worth are done, known but to the actors, and the Omniscient Father of the poor and of the rich.
We have heard it said- there can be no true poetry amongst the poor. Is there no feeling, no hope, no love, no hate, amongst the poor? and what are all these but Nature, and what is Poetry but the uttered spirit of Nature. Who reads The Cottar's Saturday Night and denies that there is poetry amongst the poor? Who reads The Gentle Shepherd and declares that there is no poetry amongst the poor? And then Crabbe,
-Nature's sternest painter, yet the best ;" take Crabb, who made the woes and wrongs of the poor his theme; take Crabbe who, as Ebenezer Elliott wrote," clasps his hideous mistress in his arms, and she rewards him with her confidence, by telling him all her dreadful secrets," ---take Crabbe, —from first to last of his works is not poetry drawn from the every day life of the poor ? . Wordsworth, too, has found poetry in the life of that sad one who said,
“ And homeless near a thousand homes I stood, And near a thousand tables ned and wanted food." From Crabbe and Wordsworth, but chiefly from the former, our Poets of Labor have derived their inspiration. Doubtless Burns has had a very considerable share in forming this section of writers, but he alone could never have been the founder of this band.
Could Hood have had these lines from “The Female Vagrant" in mind, when writing the following, in “ The Bridge of Sighs"
“Oh! it was pitiful
Home she had none."
And how that spirit of poesy enters into the soul of the Poet of Labor : it becomes the object of his life; the witching, luring, temptress, blinding him to every consequence, and hurrying him onward to beggary, or to that fame which comes to men of his order as a curse. Warnings and cautions are unheeded; the enchantress holds them in her toils; the shores where the Syrens dwelt were covered by the bones of those who had been the victims of temptation, yet over these bones youths passed enslaved by the same longings and desires, and so it is with those of whom we write-the Muse is the Syren, the highways of life are her shore.*
Amongst the most remarkable of our Poets of Labor are those the titles of whose works we have placed as the heading of this paper : Nicoll formed by the genius of Burns and of Elliott; Massey owing his first inspiration to Elliott, his latest to Tennyson. And when one comes to consider the social position of these two men ; the hard struggles; the earnest, longing, love of books; the aspirations felt even in childhood; the tire of poetry--the light of Genius--burning brightly in their souls, even amidst the depressing, chilling horrors of poverty, neglect, and hardship, how gloriously the melody and vigor of their lines fall upon the ear, and we discern a charm far above the charm of thought and rhythm in the poems of the Cow Herd and of the Factory Boy.
And herein, too, in judging these men, we learn another solemn truth-that the poet and the man are one ; that poetry is, and ever must be, “the fruit of the whole moral, spiritual, intellectual, and practical being.” Hence it is that the early days dreamed and wondered away amidst the quiet scenes of Auchtergaven, where he read, in his twelfth year, the Warerley Novels, whilst herding the cows, have given an exquisite gentleness to the thoughts of Nicoll, being but the reflection of his own mind so formed in these early years. Hence it is that Gerald Massey, “ dragged up” into manhood amidst the cold, iron, hardships of manufacturing town life, shrieks defiance at all the world of oppressors ; or, turning to that only link binding him to humanity-bis wife-- his love breaks forth in strains that prove his existence to be passion-great, noble, if properly guided—whole-heart passion ;—and whether he shouts in the fierce agony of one who suffers yet cannot strike,
See “ Essays and Selections," by Basil Montagu. London: Pickering, 1837.