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In pride, alone, and humble thanks for promised gifts so rare,
Why did no follower shed
A tear, sweet child, for you;
Nay, father and his kin,
Why were they tearless, too?
Although it taxed them sore.
And him, the mourner-chief,
Although he could have kept
Aloud, aloul in grief.
Because each well did know,
Priest, people, father, kin,
That for your loss to ns,
Sorrow were almost sin:
That life is misery,
The more when life is long-
That life is weakness all,
When life should most be strong.
And more than this they knew,
That God had willed away
From earth a child of His,
L'nsullied by earth's clay-
As yet unstained by crime,
Before liis Maker's face
And therefore sure to find
In heaven a resting place." The lines are not, we are well aware, either very poetical or very striking; but they show the phases of a longing, loving mind; of a soul all love and hope, of a heart young amidst care and grief-a heart that would not be crushed.
A friend who visited Banim, at this period, thus describes his conversation and mode of life :
" I had left the town behind, and my route led along the Dublin road, when a small dwelling overlooking the path announced the author's villa. A wooden door opened to my summons, and admitted me into a small court-yard bordered by a trimly kept plot of garden ground. A lad was wheeling an invalid in a bath chair round the gravelled walk. I needed not to ask; I knew it must be Banim.
Quickly I approached, and put my card into his hand. Mr. Banim,' I said, “ pardon this intrusion—but I could not be a day in Kilkenny without paying my homage to a genius to whom Ireland owes so much. I have written a little myself, and therefore felt bound to come and see you.'
He took my hand and pressed it warmly. 'I have read your work with pleasure," he said, "and am thankful for your visit. Come in and rest after your walk.' Pardon me,' I replied, “if I decline just now.
The walk here is nothing, and you are enjoying this lovely day. Continue your jaunt,
and I will walk and talk with you.' The boy resumed his propelling motion, and I chatted with the gifted Banim. I had full leisure to observe his features, which were long and delicately formed; his high forehead, denoting intellect, and soft eyes ever lit with flashing thoughts. When he removed his hat, his hair seemed grey, but not with years,' for I do not think he was much more than forty ; but with mental excitement, and much privation and acute bodily suffering, (he then laboured under rheumatic paralysis, which deprived him of the entire use of his lower limbs) had told upon his brown tresses, and his silvered head.
We spoke chiefly on literary topics. He declaimed power. fully against the low state of literature in this unhappy country, which he attributed to the prohibition of learning in the time of the Penal Laws, from the effects of which the great mass of the people were but slowly recovering-how it was impossible to derive any considerable pecuniary emolument from writings in Ireland. Moore told me,' he said, 'if, he had confined his labours to Ireland he would be a beggar. He spoke rather feelingly of the neglect of men, who liad the means, but not the will, to make his sojourn in his native place more agreeable, and hinted at the Marquis of Ormond. Tears of gratitude sparkled in his eyes as he related a visit not long before paid him by the Lord Lieutenant, the Marquis of Normanby. If men of that class only knew how prized a few kind words—some pithy notices of judicious praise--are to the sensitive minds of authors, methinks they would be less chary in giving what, at all events, costs nothing.
I mentioned my regret at his invalid state, and asked whether change of air might not be serviceable? "Ah! he said · I have tried that, and it was of no use. I was in France, at Boulogne, and in Paris, and the contrast between my re
ception at Paris and here is painfully great. There I was made too much of. My soirees, which, unlike the extravagant parties in this country, I would give for about a dozen francs, lights, cakes, café, and eau sucré, forming the chief items in our bill of fare, were attended by the elite of the French capital. The nobles, by birth as by talents, took pleasure in attending. I found my health rapidly declining, and indeed I came home to die. My God! I shall never forget the humiliation of feeling I experienced on landing at Kingstown, Judging from the misery that every where met my sight, I felt as if the Irish had nothing to be proud of except their beggars.'
I described my ramble over the city that forenoon, and the interest which his tale of the Roman Merchant gave to the church-yard of St. Canice.
“That is a singular incident,' he replied, 'and well worthy of being wrought into three volumes, I wrote that tale one evening between dinner-time and tea. It is quite true. The stranger's tomb is in the wall, near the entrance.'
Banim now directed his servant to turn his steps towards the door, and, by the help of crutches, entered his dining. room. Here we were shortly joined by a gentle little girl, with pale, thoughtful face, and auburn hair, Banim's only child; she spoke but seldom during my stay, but her remarks betokened an intellect far beyond her years. She seemed a great pet of her father's, and no doubt the fervour of his genius communicated a warmth which caused her's to expand.
Of those we love, unconsciously we learn. Mrs. Baniin also entered, and I was introduced to her; she shewed great solicitude about her husband, enquiring how his drive agreed with him, and appeared obliged for my visit. She was evidently proud of the renown he had acquired, and felt every call the homage he had a right to receive. She spoke rather reproachfully of the conduct of his countrymen in general, who seemed to take little interest in the declining health of one who had done such honour to the soil.
Banim soon resumed his literary conversation, and we talked much of poets and poetry. He took down a volume and read part of Shelly's Faust, and I sat by entrancednever was poetry more eloquently written, and never was poetry more eloquently read. It was a glorious thing to hear such
strains so sung.
But of Ireland was the theme most upon his lips, and the love country glowed in his bosom ever and always. We have been sadly neglected,' he said, and the works which are written on this country, seldom give a correct notion of the people. Mrs. Hall writes too like Miss Mitford, and therefore too English to be correct. We want a cheap periodical.
I mentioned the Dublin University.
'It is a good magazine for the hands into which it falls, he replied, but too much devoted to party to be national.'
He repeated some of his own poetry-very touching and intensely Irish. I remembered an incident, he thought at the Clare Election, when two adverse factions were reconciled by the amicable meeting of the leaders long at variance. Banim wrote the following stanzas on the event, which he called The Old Man at the Altar:
“An old man, he knelt at the Altar
His enemy's hand to take,
And his feeble limbs did shake,
Had been stretched at the old man's feet,
By the hand which he now must greet.
And rage which had not gone by,
Up into his enemy's eye-
But his clenched hands his bosoin crossed.
Revenge for the boy he lost.
And thought of the place he was in,
And thought that revenge was sin-
Your hand-he cried-aye, that hand,
For the sake of our bleeding land !”
When Messrs. Gunn and Cameron resolved to publish The Irish Penny Journal, they were anxious to engage the services of Banim, as a contributor ; the usual differences between author and publisher, monetary, arose, and bitter complaints were made by Banim, answered by declarations of the publishers, that he was irregular in his promised assistance.
Sick, weary, and irritable, Baniin became impatient, and enclosed the following letters to his ever faithful friend, Michael Staunton, then the Editor and Proprietor of The Dublin Morning Register :
“Kilkenny, September 17, 1840. My dear Staunton,
Should you consider the accompanying letters fair matter for the notice of the Irish Press, I beg to leave them at your disposal.
Ever truly yours,
Office of the General Advertiser,
Dublin, 21st. August, 1840, Sir,-For anything new, and which will be suitable, we shall, if it be first-rate, pay as high a price as any one; more can hardly be expected from the publishers of such a work as ours.
When we commenced the PENNY JOURNAL, we certainly were foolish enough to suppose that “patriotism,' (that is the word) might possibly induce some oxe Irishman to aid us with his pen in our arduous undertaking—not certainly, gratuitously, but at a moderate rate. We have, liowever, already lived long enough to be undeceived.
We have, always, it is true, found Irishmen exceedingly kind in their professions of patriotism, and verbally, very fervent in their hopes, that every Irishman, capable of contributing to the PENNY JOURNAL, ought to aid us with his talents, and soforth. But we are constrained to say, that we have always found these loud professious coupled with an immediate demand for not only the highest price for their contributions, but a greedy desire to clutch as much as possible, from those who, if not more patriotic in reality than themselves, hare not had the disgusting hypocrisy to avow a feeling they did pot possess. It is not tlie demand for remuneration, for this