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now desires me to inform you that you may get paid in proportion to its success on the established terms of his theatre, or sell your drama at once for fifty pounds, including the publishing copy-right. Should you prefer the former mode of remuneration it will be necessary for you to ascertain by calling on him, what are the usual terms of paying authorship in his theatre by nights. I know nothing of it. I invariably preferred a certainty beforehand; indeed he got a piece of mine for less than he offers for yours, and I believe I have not been a loser. Mr. Howard Payne did not, I am informed, receive more from Covent Garden, either for his Clare, or Charles II.
Miss Kelly has been ill, and perhaps but for that, your piece would now be in progress. Mr. Arnold still thinks he will produce it this season. You inform me that your feeling on that subject is one of a great deal of indifference. This I must regret, particularly as I have been the cause of giving you trouble in a matter which does not interest you. I assure you at the time I first wrote for the English Opera House, and waited month after month even for an answer, I would not have been indifferent to whatever chance might have got my piece read and answered two hours after it had been handed in, and the transaction finally brought to a close in a few days.
I am, my dear Sir, truly yours.
John BANIM. However you may decide, Mr. Arnold hopes to close with yourself.
Tuesday Evening, August 23rd, 1826. MY DEAR SIR.-I have just received your letter, which I hasten to answer. I am exceedingly obliged to you for all the trouble you have taken with the play, and am most gratified with the conclusion. I feel the entire extent of the obligation which you have conferred upon me; I always felt it, and I thought I said so in my first letter, but a mistake you have fallen into with respect to my last, renders it necessary for me to explain.
The indifference of which I spoke (as probably you will find by referring to the letter) related entirely to Mr. Arnold's mode of payment, or indeed payment at all in the first instance, as, from the conversation I had with you on the subject, and the subsequent interview with Mr. Arnold, I concluded that nothing worth being very anxious about was to be done in the way of money, at a summer theatre. It was far from an object of indifference to me, however, that a play of mine should be produced. When you thought I meant to say this you gave me credit for a greater piece of coxcombry than I was conscious of. It has been the object of my life for many years ; I could not profess to be indifferent about it, still less could I be indifferent to the nature or extent of the obligation when conferred. Let me beg of you to take this general assurance in preference to any constructiun which possibly may be put on casual words or sentences.
I am, my dear sir, very truly yours,
GERALD GRIFFIN. To this letter, which certainly seems sufficiently explanatory, Mr. Banim unfortunateiy returned no answer, believing, as he afterwards mentions, that both parties were content and all cause of
misunderstanding removed. Gerald however, very naturally expected some acknowledgment of the fact, and not receiving it, ceased to urge any renewal of an intimacy, the interruption of which he felt did not rest with him. It would seem extraordinary that Mr. Banim after having always evinced such a kind interest in Gerald's affairs, and received so ample an explanation of the slight misconception which occurred, did not evince some sign of returning confidence; but I believe the fact to be, that before an opportunity occurred for declaring it, a new and more annoying cause of jealousy arose. At the time that Mr. Banim's works were in the very highest estimation, and when indeed the assistance of no new author could have added to their reputation, he offered Gerald a place in the O'Hara Family and urged him to contribute a tale. To a person wholly unknown, and whose most successful work could not have procured for him a third of the price from the booksellers which could be obtained for it as one of the O'Hara Tales, this was a very generous proposal. It was, however, declined by Gerald on the plea that he was unequal to the task. Hollandtide appeared some months subsequent to this, and almost immediately after the conclusion of the correspon lence respecting the drama accepted by Mr. Arnold. It was hardly surprising that under such circumstances Mr. Banim should feel he was treated disingenously, especially as he was convinced Gerald had Hollandtide written at the time he declared his inability to write a tale for the O'Hara collection. This however, was really not the case. Most of the tales in Hollandtide were written in an inconceivably short space of time (not more than two or three months,) before their publication, and entirely at my constant urging, and I can testify, from the difficulty I had in inducing him to make the effort at all, how very diffident and doubt. ful he was of success. I do not mean that he exactly underrated his own powers, but I believe he did not think that his engagements with the periodicals, which he could not give up, would allow him sufficient time and consideration to attain the success he was ambitious of, in a regular work of fiction. In any event indeed, I do not believe he would have joined an author of established fame in his labours, however advantageous it might be in a pecuniary point of view. If there was any one object dearer to him than another in his literary career, it was the ambition of attaining rank and fame by his own unaided efforts, or at least without placing himself under obligations to those on whom he felt he had no claim, but independent of this, and highly as he must have appreciated the kindness of Mr. Banim's proposal, he might not unnaturally conclude that the public would consider his own early efforts as indebted for success, more to the assistance of his eminent friend, than to any original or independent merit they possessed. He had besides on all occasions, an almost morbid horror of patronage, arising partly from a natural independence of mind, but yet more from the depressing disappointments of his early literary life. When first he came to London, he sought by a few introductions and the friendly exertions of literary acquaintainces, to bring his productions favourably before the public, but without the slightest success. His powers seemed to be under: valued precisely in proportion as he wade interest to procure them consideration, until at length disgusted by repeated failure, he resolved in future to trust wholly to his own unfriended exertions, and if they should not sustain him to abandon the struggle. It was soon after forming this resolution that success first dawned upon his efforts, and that he was anxiously sought for as an anonymous contributor by the editors of periodicals, who when he was previously introduced to them, would give him nothing to do. In proportioú as his success increased, the remembrance of the many mortifying disappointments he had formerly experienced, seemed to sink more deeply into his mind, and he gradually acquired a degree of sensitiveness with respect to patronage, that made him recoil from even the ordinary and necessary means of obtaining attention for his pieces. This may have influenced him much less with respect to Mr. Banim than others."*
Matters rested thus, and we shall hereafter, in the proper time, resume the history of this disagreement, and the happy, honest, ingenuous reconciliation of these two excellent men.
Michael returned to Kilkenny in August, 1826, and when he left London The Nowlans was entirely finished, and he had acted as the critic upon it: but in six weeks after he had reached his home, Peter of The Castle was forwarded to him for his corrections. This story is founded upon the character of one well known in the neighbourhood of Kilkenny some few years before the period of which we write. The Nowlans and Peter of The Castle form the second series of The Tales By The O Hara Family, which was published in November, 1826. The series was thus dedicated :-“ To Ireland's True Son and First Poet, Thomas Moore, Esq. With the Highest National Pride in his Genius as an Irishman, These Tales are Inscribed." It would appear that Moore, although blundering in his recollection of the words of the dedication, was pleased with it; and when, in the year 1830 he visited Kilkenny, whilst staying with the late Mr. Bryan of Jenkinstown, he made the following entry in his Diary, under date September Sth:“Walked with Tom into Kilkenny, to show it to him. Called at Mr. Banim's (the father of the author of the “Tales of the O'Hara Family,' who keeps a little powder and shot shop in Kilkenny), and not finding him at home, left a memorandumt to say that
See "Life of Gerald Grffin, Esq." By his Brother. p. 214. Why is not this most interesting biography republished in a cheap form ? It is the history of one of the most beautiful minds that ever drifted into the troubled sea of literature and sorrow.
| The memorandum was as follows, and old Mr. Banim valued it most highly, and always carried it about with him in pocket book :“ Mr. Thomas Moore called to pay his respects to the father of the author of The O'Hara Family,"
I had called out of respect to his son. Took care to impress upon Tom how great the merit of a young man must be who, with not one hundredth part of the advantages of education that he (Tom) had in his power, could yet so distinguish himself as to cause this kind of tribute of respect to be paid to his father. I have not, it is true, read more than one of Banim's stories myself, but that one was good, and I take the rest upon credit. Besides, he dedicated his second series to me, calling me 'Ireland's free son and true poet,' which was handsome of him.”*
It would, perhaps, be almost impossible to suggest any plot more powerfully conceived, and more vigorously elaborated than that of The Nowlans. It is, in truth, the analysis of passion : love in every phase-its pathos and its rage; and when we close the book, saddened by the fate of poor Lelly Nowlan, and her inisguided lover, we feel how truly the epigraph which Banim selected from Gray describes the lot of the hero and heroine :
- These shall the fury passions tear
The vultures of the mind." The whole vigor of Banim's genius was engaged in the construction of this novel; and it was, in its first edition, disfigured by some passages which his more sober judgment led him afterwards to omit. If however, we take this novel, solely as a specimen of what Banim's genius could enable him to achieve, and if we compare all its parts, considering them as a whole, it must be classed amongst the most powerful fictions of the time, and if not the first, certainly of the first rank. Doubtless if it be not taken as a whole, the melodramatic character appears too boldly, but this is an objection which might, with equal force, be urged against The Bride of Lammermoor, and Eugene Aram. Possibly it was through regarding particular characters only, that Miss Mitford was induced to write" John Banim was the founder of that school of Irish novelists, which, always excepting its blameless purity, so much resembles the modern romantic French school, that if it were possible to suspect Messieurs Victor Hugo, Eugene Sue, and Alexander Dumas, of reading the English, which they never approach without such ludicrous
See “ Memoirs, Journal, and Correspondence of Thomas Moore.” Edited By the Right Hon. Lord John Russell. Vol. VI. p. 136.
blunders, one might fancy that many volumed tribe to have stolen their peculiar inspiration from the 'O'Hara Family'.'*
The success of The Nowlans was most satisfactory; but as reputation and competence were reached, disease and pain advanced with more violent and confirmed tenacity. Still he wrote on; none knew how nobly and bravely he worked, for though it was easy to measure his hours of toil, who could measure that toil done in wringing, agonizing, burning pain. “He looked forty," says Michael, “though not eight and twenty :” his hair was grizzled ; his face wrinkled, and he tottered as he walked, if the distance were many doors off. During four months he never communicated with his family in Kilkenny, because he would not tell them of his illness; and at length, when Christmas, with its joys and sorrows had come round once more, and when he believed that his health was somewhat improved, he wrote thus to Michael, in the old hopeful tone, bowing before the will of the Almighty in that same spirit in which Galileo said of his lost sight, “it has pleased God that it should be so, and it must please me also.” In this letter nothing is omitted or forgotten, and home is home still, and every memory of other days is around his heart, as warmly cherished as if he had known neither the elevation of success nor the depression of withering sickness and disappointment :
“ London, Christmas Day, 1826. My dear Michael,
I have just got your letter of the 21st. How could you suppose I should forget the hob nob at six this evening : we will chink our glasses to you with hearty good will and fond remembrance.
When you were with me you insisted on my promise that I should be very candid with you in future regarding the state of my health. It was an injudicious engagement for me to make, or for you to exact. Why should I afflict those who love me?
I bave been very ill, but, under good treatment, am now much better. The pains came on with violence, accompanied by numbness and chilliness in the limbs, and general exhaus
* See “ Recollections of a Literary Life; or Books, Places, and People." By Mary Russell Mitford. Vol. I. chap. 2. “ Hardress Cregan” in ** The Collegians” appears to us much more French than either "Tresham” in “ The Fetches" or "John Nowlan."