My Life in Two Hemispheres/Chapter 11
THE EDITOR'S ROOM
Sketch of David Urquhart—Wallis on Lord Wallscourt and Chisholm Anstey—Letter from Moore Stack—Lady contributors—Street ballads—Daniel Owen Madden proposes a Life of Dr. Doyle and sketches of Irish Philosophers—Letters from William Carleton—His first love—Lord Morphet's letter on his literary pension—Clarence Mangan—His troubles and repentance—Publication of "Anthologia Germanica" His shortcomings exaggerated by himself and others—Father Kenyon's proposal of an Appeal by the Catholic Young Irelanders to a National Synod against misrepresentation—A week in London with O'Hagan and Pigot—Proposal to publish Rinuccini.
Whatever was attempted in public by the young men was commonly considered beforehand in the editor's room, where the Cabinet of the party met. The work for which we were more individually responsible, the literary and educational projects, were considered and revised there, and often subjected to a searching and pitiless criticism. It was said by some one familiar with these labours, that, like icebergs, twothirds of our compass was always invisible. In the interval between the final rupture of negotiations with O'Connell and the outbreak of the still unexpected French Revolution, the work done was considerable and not unfruitful.
I can declare, for I have tried both experiments, that the responsibilities of a Minister of State does not need prompter counsel or more constant vigilance than the editor's chair in a journal so many-sided as the Nation.
The English party whose assistance we were promised, and one of whom we had got elected for Mallow, created hopes which in the end were imperfectly realised.
When David Urquhart came to Dublin he excited very mixed feelings. He was manifestly a man of ability, but the effect was diminished by fantastic manners, and overshadowed by a self-esteem so prodigious that it cast an air of ridicule on whatever he proposed. An extract from a diary which I kept in those days may give the reader some idea of this strange phenomenon:—
"I called on Mr. Urquhart at Morrisson's Hotel. He received me, arrayed in Orange silk trousers, and a caftan of some green material, and looked like an Oriental Pasha condescending to mate for a moment with the dullards of the West. A magnificent portfolio lay before him worthy of a Secretary of State. I congratulated him on the probability of his entering Parliament.
"'Yes,' he said, 'if he could form a solid English party who, in addition to performing important services to the Empire, could repeal the Union, it would repay him for diverting a brief space from the serious business of his life.'
"'You have graver business than Parliament?' I queried, in some surprise.
"'Yes,' he said, 'my business is in the generous, simple, noble East, not among the mean intrigues and cabals called Parliamentary Government.'
"'You don't approve,' I said, 'of English liberty as embodied in the will of the people?'
"'I approve of English liberty,' he replied, 'as embodied in the will of the Sovereign. My late illustrious friend, William IV., contemplated, if he had been happily spared, certain changes in the system, which would re?*ore true liberty, protected by its natural guardian, the only safe, reliable, and disinterested friend of the people, their king. It was the right of Parliament to present its opinions to the king, and it was his right to weigh them and decide.'
"I laughed, and suggested that the king would not decide, one might presume, without a colloquy with his mistresses, like some of his predecessors. What a gorgeous Council of State Charles II. might consult without quitting his salon? Or if he followed the guidance of his own noble, unaided wisdom, George III. taught us what results might be expected. His late illustrious friend was not a Solomon, but he could not fail to know by what method of government England lost the American Colonies.
"Oh,' he exclaimed, 'you are poisoned with the gas of the thing called Western civilisation, the damnable modern practice of ruling the wise by the foolish.'
"'May I inquire,' I said, 'if you propose in this year of grace, 1846, to substitute the will of the queen for the will of the nation?'
"'No,' he said, 'my present purpose is quite different. I hope to bring Lord Palmerston to justice. In his early and unfriended youth he was sold to Russia, and has never been able to escape from her grasp. As he grew more important he became a more useful and subservient agent. To betray England is the price of his daily bread. And he can never escape; no one thwarts the policy of Russia and lives. When a great person dies prematurely the newspapers announce "a visitation of Providence," but a wise man murmurs "a visitation of Russia."'
"'How has Mr. David Urquhart escaped the poisoner's cup or stiletto?' I inquired; 'he has been thwarting Russia to the best of his power?'
"'Yes,' he said, 'and if I succeed my time will come. I am not yet formidable enough, but whenever I am troublesome to Russia she will disembarrass herself of me.'
"'The remainder of your menaced life will be spent in Parliament, I suppose?'
"'Not at all; Parliament is an episode in a greater career. When I have taught England that pauperism and public debt have come with Cabinet Governments ruling by majorities and the thing they call liberty, I shall probably have done with that business. I cannot long neglect the forty millions of men who depend on me for inspiration and guidance.'
"'Forty millions!' I exclaimed. 'May an ill-informed Western inquire where they reside?'
"'They reside in the most interesting countries in the East of Europe. Who guides the Hungarian? Lajos Kossuth, you will say. Well, perhaps so; but after Kossuth they look to me, most of men. On whom do the Poles rely? It would be difficult to name any one who unites the confidence of so many of the two parties into which they are divided as myself. The Moslems? No one can compete with me there. The Sultan is unhappy if he acts without my advice, and when I go to Byzantium my first, my longest, visit is to the Queen Mother. When she will see no one else she sees me.'
"'Good gracious!' I murmured, 'there is no scandal about Queen Elizabeth, I hope?'
"'Gossips will be gossips, of course; but assuredly there is no ground for scandal in the conduct of that excellent woman.'
"'Is that your whole clientèle?' I inquired.
"'No,' he said. 'The Servians, the Walloons, and the Moldavians go to make up the forty million without counting the Druses of Lebanon, who have no reliance but on me.'
"During this colloquy Urquhart kept his fiery Celtic temperament under complete control, and I tried to follow his example.
"'With such allies,' I ventured to suggest, 'I wonder you have not struck some great stroke in the world.'
"'And haven't I?' he replied. 'I saved England from a Chartist revolution; there would have been a great explosion, and probably a general overturn, but for my influence with the leaders.'
"'In that case,' I suggested, 'the explosion is only postponed.'
"'No, I am taking measures to render it impossible. When the leaders are educated they will understand they can get all they want at a cheaper rate than violence. After four years in a Workman's College they will be familiar with history, philosophy, and political science, and not likely to commit bélises.'
"'It will be a costly experiment,' I suggested, 'to create, endow, and maintain such a system of education for a whole people!'
"'No,' he said, 'they will learn all they need by conversation with me.'
"Mr. Urquhart uttered these marvels in a level voice, without rhetoric or emphasis; very much indeed like the ordinary gossip of a morning call. It is not a bee the man has in his bonnet, but a beehive! " The sum and substance of Urquhartism was—Russia has designs, these as being inimical in his view, not only to England, but to humanity all over the globe; the aim of the Romanoffs being the restoration in their own persons of Roman universal empire, he held it to be the duty of every Englishman to trace out and expose. But he cared nothing for "motives," whether good or bad, true or false; whether on the part of Russia herself or of her agents, avowed or occult. He dealt only with facts, with results, whether consummated or on the high road to be so, and claimed to have so mastered the knowledge of her system that he could scarcely be mistaken. The tools, he added emphatically, with which Russia works are Cabinets bought, cowed, or deluded. The most startling incident occurred as I rose to withdraw. A waiter brought in some letters for Ross, of Bladensburg, a man of fortune and character. Urquhart coolly took the letters, opened and read them. Noticing my glance of astonishment he said that his relation to his friends authorised him to treat their correspondence as his own. I murmured my thanks that I was not one of his friends, and withdrew.
Wallis, who was an advocatus diaboli, was determined that we should not over- value our new recruits. He wrote to me from his hermitage:—
"The accession of Lord Wallscourt and Chisholm Anstey to the Confederation appears to have created a sensation, and so far done good. But I don't think much of either of the men. Wallscourt is, I believe, no great things anyway. I saw him once buy one pennyworth of letter paper, and I thanked the gods that he was a Union peer; and as for Anstey, I have an ineffable contempt for him. Pardon my saying so, as he is a friend of yours. There is no description of man I can so little endure. His very phiz marks him out as a pietistic character; and as for that book which Mitchel reviewed so favourably, I don't think, judging by the extracts I have read, there ever was such trash. The man is a measureless nincompoop, a desperate, depicable donkey."
But our sympathisers at home were of more importance than any English allies, and to confirm and increase their confidence was the task nearest our hearts. O'Connell had demonstrated that the contract made in 1800 had proved a bad bargain for Ireland. But the passion of Nationality, the love of our mother country, which is no more dependent on the balance of profit and loss than the love of the mother who cherished us at her breast, had sprung from the teaching of the Nation, and had spread wide among classes who scorned Conciliation Hall, and among some even who would maintain the political Union, but ally it, as in Scotland, with the profound love of country. The correspondence of the period recalls projects designed to cherish this sacred flame. Mr. Moore was the nom de théâtre of an actor, who made a great success in recent plays by Leigh Hunt and Sheridan Knowles, and whom Mr. Knowles afterwards assured me was the most promising actor of his day, destined, if he had not abandoned the stage, to win a foremost place. But religious scruples induced him to give up his profession, and he became known to us in Ireland as Professor of Elocution in Maynooth College, under his actual name of Moore Stack. I believe his gifts amounted to genius; certainly he moved me more, reciting a speech of Curran or Patrick Henry, or a ballad of Davis or Lefanu, than any orator at the Bar or in the Senate dealing with the most vivid actualities of the hour. I thought such gifts might be of immense service to the National cause, and my comrades put forth all their influence to organise a committee which would give him a great début. Professors of the Dublin University and of Maynooth College, and leaders of all the learned professions assembled in the Rotunda to hear him recite some of the masterpieces of Irish literature, and poems by the Young Irelanders living and dead. We believed a very valuable work had been done for the National cause; and that it did not disappoint Mr. Stack's expectations we may gather from the following letter:—
"Friday, Feb. 20, 1845.
"My dear Mr. Duffy,—I cannot leave town without offering you such thanks as I am able for your kindly feelings and conduct towards me since the first moment I have had the happiness of knowing you. Never did I so deeply regret my inability^to express my thoughts as at this instant, or feel how feebly the commonplace expressions which I can command to convey the sentiments of my mind. It has been truly said that no metaphysician ever felt the deficiency of language more than the grateful. I have met with much kindness from many persons, but never before was it so graciously accompanied with all that could increase its value to one of my, perhaps, peculiar temperament; and hence the warmth of my feelings. I hope and believe that I shall ever entertain as lively a sense of my obligations to you as I do at this moment. Wishing you health and every happiness, I remain, my dear Mr. Duffy, your obliged and faithful servant,
"Richd. Moore Stack."
Mr. Stack brought me a young kinsman of his, the Reverend David Moriarty, then professor in the Missionary College of which he speedily became the head, and finally an Irish bishop. Through trying and troubled times this gifted ecclesiastic never withdrew his friendship from me till we were separated by death.
Among the new recruits of the Nation at this time were several gifted women known to its readers as Speranza, Eva, Mary, and Thomasine. A selection from their correspondence would make a charming chapter, but this book threatens to be too big, and I can only make space for one note from the most gifted of them, which needs a liberal allowance from the reader for the perfervour commonly incident to a woman of genius:—
"34, Leeson Street, Monday.
My dear Sir,—I return, with many thanks, the volume of Cromwell, which has been travelling about with me for the last four months, and shall feel much obliged for the two others when you are quite at leisure, though not even Carlyle can make this soulless iconoclast interesting. It is the only work of Carlyle's I have met with in which my heart does not go along with his words.
"I cannot forbear telling you, now the pen is in my hand, how deeply impressed I felt by your opening lecture to your club. It was the sublimest teaching, and the style so simple from its very sublimity—it seemed as if Truth passed directly from your heart to ours, without the aid of any medium—at least I felt that everywhere the thoughts struck you, nowhere the words, and this in my opinion is the perfection of composition. It is soul speaking to soul. I never felt the dignity of your cause so much as then—to promote it in any way seemed an object that would ennoble a life. Truly, one cannot despair when God sends us such teachers. But you will wish me away again for another four months if I write you such long notes. So I shall conclude with kind compliments to Mrs. Duffy, and remain, yours very sincerely,
"I only read your lecture—some time or other I would like to hear you."
The same design of elevating and strengthening the National spirit was promoted at the other end of the social scale. Songs taken from the "Spirit of the Nation," and "Paddy's Resource," a book half a century older, were printed and placed in the hands of ballad singers to replace their ordinary ware. Mr. Lyons, a young confederate of Cork, wrote to me at this time:—
"I beg to acquaint you that I have made arrangements with the publisher to send you one thousand copies of the street ballads in a few days, probably the end of next week. The sooner we receive your collection the better. I think we are ready here for a new edition.
"Mr. Meagher has expressed his intention of getting a similar sheet printed in Waterford; an exchange may be made with him for the Cork ballads with some advantage."
Daniel Owen Madden, who was a contributor to Conservative periodicals in London, feared to be misunderstood if he continued to write even biographical papers for the Nation, but he was willing to share our literary enterprises outside the journal. He interested me as a friend of Davis, and I negotiated with M'Glashan the publication of a volume of his "Irish Miscellanies," and considered favourably books he projected for the Library of Ireland.
"1. I would write the life of Doctor Doyle con amore; there would not be a sectarian word or a sectarian thought in it. Of all modern Irishmen I think him the most admirable—a far greater nature, though not a greater man, than O'Connell. I think I would do him justice, and that my life of him would be extremely popular.
"Now it strikes me, non abstante Disraelo, that 'Lives of the Irish Philosophers ' would be an attractive, readable, popular, and most useful volume. I would take our most eminent names, write their lives briefly, give an account of their works, and have interstitial chapters, on topics cognate with the men selected. In metaphysics, Hutcheson and Berkeley; political philosophy, Burke; natural philosophy, Molyneux, Kerwin (chemist), Lloyd—intermingled with matters interstitial—(1) Introduction, with remarks, a Progress of Philosophy in Modern Times. (2) History of Trinity College—its good and evil pointed out—what it has done, and what it ought to have done. The want of moral zeal; its not awakening a thirst for science, &c. Yet a frank allowance for the difficulties arising from a distracted country, &c. Then go down in historical order, and take the men as they come. Insert a chapter on Use of Metaphysics—prior to life of Berkeley—remind my readers that politics and patriotism did not prevent Molyneux from the noble pursuit of science; and that the cultivation of the higher philosophy did not prevent Berkeley from practical patriotism, and from striving, according to his power, to help the people around him. A chapter on the Archaeological Historians of last century, and a chapter on the Modern Philosophers—Lloyd, James M'Cullagh, and Dr. Kane.
"I would rank the secondary men together. Thus I would notice Baron Smith, Thomas Wallace, Q.C., George Ensor, in a chapter. The secondary men would not require more than long notes. Perhaps a chapter on the R. I. Academy—a popular scientific institute of Belfast and Cork.
"The Edgeworths would obtain a notice as 'educators,' and the name of Edgeworth ought for ever to be dear to us. Griffin throughout his works renders him repeated tributes of admiring gratitude.
"I take for granted that the £40, proposed for payment in the Irish Library, means £40 per volume, which is very little for books of their size. I could not embark on lives of Irish philosophers less than a hundred guineas for two volumes. (3) Davis's works collected. These must be done by men of his immediate party—yourself, for his poetry."
Wallis, then in London, who was an indefatigable projector, planned an edition of Davis's works in five volumes, which he was willing to edit, and would certainly have edited with good judgment and scrupulous care. It is useless now to set out his plan in detail, but this fragment of his letter on the subject will be still interesting:—
"If James Duffy, or M'Glashan, or both of them, will become the Dublin publishers, I would also take proper steps to get a publisher here who would forward the sale of the work in England.
"One hundred subscribers at £1 would surely not be much to expect, and it would be enough to begin with, i.e., it would cover probable loss. But I have another notion which I must not forget. I never approved of your apparently making James Duffy a present of the copyright of the poems; and though I saw a note of yours implying such a donation, I hold the gift to be null and void. Duffy and M'Glashan shall publish for love, and their commission, or they must not have me as editor. No! I say this is, in its way, a permanent little property, likely for some few years, if Irish politics retain their interest, to yield a return. Nothing grand, but still something. Davis's family don't want the proceeds. You, as proprietor of the Nation, I conceive, waive your claim. I say, after paying all expenses, let any profits the work may produce be vested in trustees (Hudson, yourself, and another), and let them be applied annually in Premiums, to be called 'The Davis Premiums,' to be given to the best proficients in Irish, entering the four Irish Colleges which are to be."
But to find a publisher in Ireland who would share the responsibility of five volumes proved impossible, and even Dillon thought the project ill-timed:—
"I have had a letter from Dillon (Wallis wrote later) in which he declares himself quite opposed to bringing out an edition of Davis's works at present, his chief reason being the inability of readers to buy and of friends to subscribe."
William Carleton came to the editor's room once a week for a friendly talk, and had seldom occasion to write except when the task of supporting a large family on the meagre profits of books published in Ireland proved impossible without the aid of his friends. To live by literature in a country where literature is the luxury of a class, not the recreation of a people, was a hard task, and when the middlemen of literature scarcely exceeded two or three, the sensitive immethodic man of letters stood at a painful disadvantage. From my first settlement in Dublin I had known him well, and aimed constantly and not unsuccessfully to restore him to his natural relations to his own country and people from which bigots had alienated him. After the lapse of a generation he made a visit to his native town, and it was pleasant to find the life of the man of genius not only cheered by a cordial reception but illuminated by a few gleams of romance, which brought him face to face with his youth. He wrote me from Clogher:—
"Nothing can surpass the attention I am receiving from all classes and creeds, from high and low. As soon as I return I shall publish a narrative (in the Nation) of my visit, my impressions, &c., in all senses and in all moods—on returning after twenty years to my native place. I have made a most singular and bitter discovery here. A girl — a namesake of your own (Anne Duffy)—with whom I fell in love at fourteen, and loved until I was eighteen (I think I never loved seriously since), has now acknowledged to me with tears that the love was mutual. I had never disclosed my passion to her—and her acknowledgment now proves that there never was or can be any true love but first love. My heart is bursting and my eyes are overflowing while I write to you, and I feel that this bitter discovery has cast a gloom over my whole future life and filled my heart with a bitterness that will never, never be removed. Oh, great God! why did I not know it in time! You could not dream of my misery; I feel as if my very heart were broken and the span of my life shortened by this most extraordinary but dreadful discovery. She made the acknowledgment with tears and sorrow and the bitterest agony. I have much to tell you when I see you.—Ever, my dear Charles, faithfully yours,
Many letters of this time relate to his claim for a literary pension, with which I cordially sympathised. While taxes paid by the Irish people are applied to such a purpose, it is just and reasonable that a fair share should go to Irishmen of letters, but a fair share has never gone. Thomas O'Hagan and Mr. Stewart Blacker, a Conservative gentleman, organised a committee on which the most distinguished men in Ireland served, but they were too far away from the field of politica action to influence Lord John Russell, who admitted that the claim was a good one, but pleaded it was anticipated by superior claims. Carleton was not disposed to make allowance for the difficulties of the case, and insisted they ought to give way to justice, which, unhappily, is not their common practice. He obtained at last the goodwill of an English official, which was of more practical service to him than any combination of Irish rank and capacity.
"My dear Charles,—I received the following letter this morning from Lord Morpeth—
"'May 8, '47.
"'Sir,—Though your fame is by no means confined to Ireland, yet I think whenever the application is made to the Prime Minister it will come with most force in the shape of a representation from Ireland in behalf of one of her most successful, though, it appears, very ill-requited authors. Whenever that application is made I should like it to be accompanied by this humble testimony of mine to its propriety, and the honour it would confer on the person who gives it. I have the honour to be, sir, your very faithful servant,
"The above was in reply to one of mine in which I stated my own claims in language that startled and agitated myself when I read it over after I had written it. I don't think ever I wrote so powerful a production as the letter I sent him. One of the expressions was ' I have risen up from an humble cottage and described a whole people.' I think, however, that matters are in something like a good train at last thanks to whom? to one who is deeply indebted to your kindness, my dear Charles, and that is your faithful friend,
The pension did not come immediately, but it came at last, and brought some tranquillity to a life in which great genius was repressed by constant cares and anxieties. In a Life of Carleton recently published I find a letter which I wrote him at this time. I was in the habit of sending him a free copy of the Nation as a testimony of goodwill. It failed to reach him on one occasion, and he assumed that I had stopped it to punish some recent offence which I have forgotten, and wrote to me in a fury. I replied, disposing of the cause of quarrel peremptorily:—
"I never stopped your paper—never dreamed of stopping, and never intend to stop it. If I were displeased with you, I would not resort to so shabby a means of annoyance; on the contrary, that is the very time I would be most careful not to remind you of a trifling favour of this sort."
After dealing with the practical question, I probably fell upon him à l'outrance for his insensate rashness. The man of genius repented his violence, and I replied:—
Clarence Mangan was a man of as undoubted genius as William Carleton, and paid the same penalty. He led a life of industry and privation which the crowd to which genius is a puzzle would have honoured if it had not been associated with a weakness which completely mastered him at times. After such a misadventure he came to me in deep distress. I promised that a few friends would find him an adequate income for six months if he would pledge himself to refrain from intoxicating drink for that period. He was quite willing to promise, and honestly designed, I have no doubt, to keep his pledge, and we hoped that if such an experiment proved successful he might be finally rescued from the fiend.
"My dear Carleton,—You push my words past their legitimate meaning, and I probably wrote them stronger than I felt. For I was deeply wounded that you should treat me as if I were M'Glashan or James Duffy, or Fardorougha. … Still, my friend, there is a basis of truth in them. In a gust of passion you are one of the most unjust of men, and shut your eyes to everything but your wrath. That is one side of the account, but only one. No friend was ever firmer in adversity, not swayed a hair's breadth by fear, favour, or worldliness—utterly ignoring all the small, shabby motives that influence common men, impregnable against all things but the tempestuous fury of your own passion. You should be able, if anybody could, to make allowance for my position; but you were as merciless as Skinadre, and I had not the soft word that turneth away wrath, but was as angry as yourself. Well, well, with all our mutual sins, neither of us will find easily a man who likes him as well, and has been as ready to proclaim it in the face of friends or foes, as the man he was angry with last week.—Always yours,
"C. G. D."
"9, Peter Street, 8th June.
"My dear Duffy,—May God for ever bless you! I know you too well to suppose that you are one to keep the word of promise to the ear and break it to the hope.
You spoke of getting up as much for me as might pay for half a year's board—though I consume, God knows, very little food indeed. Suppose you were to say a quarter's, instead of a half year's, and allow me the difference in hand to enable me to dispose of my poor half broken-hearted brother, and to settle with my landlord withal. If you do this you will rescue me from the depths of despair. M'Glashan has an Anthology (an Irish one) of mine in his hands, and he owes me about £2 on them. But as they have not yet appeared (though the Anthology is in type) I have an utter repugnance of asking him for any more money. I paid him the £7 10s. which he granted me at the same time with your liberal loan. Would to God that I had worked as zealously since for you, my best, my truest, my noblest-hearted friend! But I will yet retrieve the past in this respect, or may my name be blotted out for ever from the page of the Book of Life! To the point, however. I have, in my despair, begun a Polyglot Anthology, which I calculate on finishing within a week (for I translate at the rate of about eighty lines a day) …"
The end of this letter is missing, but no trafficking with Mr. M'Glashan was necessary to secure him the interval of tranquillity he sought. Poor forlorn man of genius, there were friends who loved him better than he loved himself.
"9, Peter Street, 7 o'clock, Saturday Morning.
"My dear Duffy,—You know well that your right to the 'Echoes' is indisputable. If I fancied you did not, I could demonstrate your error by a few figures, arranged 'according to Cocker.'
"But I also know your generosity. It amazes me: by my soul, it does! If you can derive any satisfaction from knowing that it has given a new impetus to my determination to devote myself almost exclusively to the interests of my country in future, I shall feel the less remorse for having so monstrously trespassed on you.
"'Something too much of this, but now 'tis past.'
"Did it ever occur to you that Maturin's 'Milesian Chief,' the most intensely Irish story I know of might be brought out in a cheap form to advantage? Did you ever hear of Gamble, the author of 'Northern Irish Tales'? He made a powerful impression on me when I luxuriated (a la Werter) in my teens. His narratives are all domestic and exceedingly melancholy. Something might be done with him, too.
"I told you that I had written a tale for Martin Keene's Magazine. I have translated a small ballad from one of Müller's 'Greek Melodies,' and have thrown it into several stanzas. It is, however, 'all one in the Greek.'
"There is a poem of mine in Bull's printing office these twelve months—about three hundred lines or so. Only think of M'Glashan's neither printing that nor giving it back to me! It was set up—for I had a proof—and yet —— But no matter!
"I would express to you, my dear friend, my sincere regret that you are compelled to devote such a large proportion of your journal to 'frothy speeches' (I quote the words of your own paper). Believe me, that until you remedy this defect the great mass of earnest readers will peruse even the Nation with some degree of apathy and indifference.—Ever yours faithfully,
"J. C. Mangan."
Mangan had a passionate admiration for Swedenborg, and he finally sent me one of his books ("Heaven and Hell," I think), with a letter, exhorting me to study it, too long for publication here.
The unhappy man of genius, whose will did not always prove faithful to his good intentions, fell into new troubles, and at length I received this poignant letter from him:—
"My dear Duffy,— I am utterly prostrated. I am in a state of absolute desolation of spirit.
"For the pity of God, come to me. I have ten words to say to you. I implore you to come. Do not suffer me to believe that I am abandoned by Heaven and man.
"I cannot stir out cannot look any one in the face. Regard this as my last request, and comply with it as if you supposed me dying.
"I am hardly able to hold the pen, but I will not, and dare not, take any stimulants to enable me to do so. Too long and fatally already have I been playing that game with my shattered nerves. Enough. God ever bless you. Oh, come!—Ever yours,
"J. C. Mangan."
The letter contained this document—
"For Charles Gavan Duffy, Esq.
"I, James Clarence Mangan, promise with all the sincerity that can attach to the declaration of a human being, to dedicate the portion of my life that may remain to me to penitence and exertion.
"I promise in the solemn presence of Almighty God and, as I trust with His assistance, to live soberly, abstemiously, and regularly in all respects.
"I promise in the same presence that I will not spare myself that I will endeavour to do all the good within my power to others that I will constantly advocate the cause of Temperance, the interests of knowledge, and the duties of patriotism; and, finally, that I will do all these things irrespective of any concern personal to myself, and whether my exertions be productive of profit and fame to me, or as may happen in the troublous times that I believe are at hand, eventuate in sinking me still lower into poverty and (undeserved) ignominy.
"This declaration of my intentions with respect to my future purposes I give to Mr. Duffy. I mean with his permission to send similar declarations to my other literary friends, varying the phraseology of them only as his prudence may suggest. "James Clarence Mangan."
I besought James M'Glashan, who, in the Dublin University Magazine, had got the profit and éclat of Mangan's best writings for many years, to encourage him in his new departure by publishing an edition of his poems, and giving him some advance upon them. After protracted negotiation I only obtained his consent by giving him a cheque for £50, to be repaid by copies of the proposed work for my friends, and the "Anthologia Germanica" was published. Mangan was eager to express his gratitude by becoming a member of the Irish Confederation; but I discouraged the proposal. His fantastic dress and eccentric habits made him unfit to mix with the crowd, and his only settled income arose from work done in preparing a catalogue of Trinity College Library, which would probably be forfeited if he became a member of a political association.
Poor Mangan confesses his shortcomings with the frankness of genius ashamed of itself, and his generous exaggeration has been made the subject of ignorant misconceptions which class him with Savage and Dermody, but whatever his secret sins might be he demeaned himself in public like a gentleman. I knew him intimately for more than a dozen years, saw him at all hours, and under all circumstances, and never once when he was not master of himself.
A practical proposal of considerable importance came from Father Kenyon. To check the flood of misrepresentation he suggested that the leading Catholic Confederates throughout the country should publish a declaration of their opinions, and a frank exposure of the calumnies to which they were subjected. While the project was under consideration he gave it a new and practical application by suggesting that it should take the shape of a memorial to the Catholic bishops assembled in National Synod, calling for their protection against the abuse of episcopal and ecclesiastical authority. In the autumn he wrote to me:—
"Dr. William Griffin, Alderman O'Hara, and I, have just had an interview with Dr. Ryan, Bishop of Limerick (I having been deputed to that end by the Sarsfield Club, and they, chancing to be here, joining me), for the purpose of obtaining his countenance to our proceedings and his support in certain respects, which I need not here particularise. We failed in our direct purposes, but have opened out a prospect of advancing our cause that has astonished us at once by its unexpectedness and promise. It was Dr. Ryan himself that put us on the track, and I hasten to direct your attention and to engage your research and labour in the project.
"When the Irish bishops assemble in Synod next November, we Irish Catholic Confederates ought to appear by memorial before their tribunal for the purpose of seeking just redress at their hands from the calumnies and tyrannies that have been practised against us. We are also to solicit judgment upon the evil influence upon our religion of the tactics of the Hall, and of the support, which these tactics have obtained from individual priests and prelates.
"Doctor Ryan, for one, promises to speak up for us then, although he will not now pronounce publicly upon the prevailing differences.
"Now, here is a magnificent hope to realise. Might we calculate upon a synodical decision in our favour?—or at least upon such a decision as would suffice to dispel the false pretension of the Hall that the Irish hierarchy are with them? Certainly, I say, the latter; possibly, at least, the former. Doctor Kennedy, of Killaloe, will go with us altogether, and I calculated upon, and, in fact, if our memorial is well planned and skilfully worded I will not despair of a complete triumph.
"I advise you to communicate at once upon this most important movement with such friends of influence as you may have through the country, and in particular with Doctor Daniel Griffin, of Limerick. The only stronghold of the Hall lies in their admixture of the priestly influence with their proceedings, and I have no earthly doubt that this admixture will be condemned by the synod as of pernicious influence if its nature and effects be but fairly, calmly, and respectfully brought under their notice. As a matter of course, all official interference of priest or bishops against us will be condemned also. And these results will suffice for us: because if once the people are permitted to reflect upon the merits of our cause, the delusion under which they labour must vanish; and they will be driven to think on the merits when priestly support, on which alone they now pillow their consciences, shall have slipped from under them."
The project was finally carried out, but without any result worth pausing upon.
This was the editor's room in 1847. The tumult of passion on a battle-field scarcely transcends the torpor of ordinary existence more than the vivid sense of life which beats in the pulses of men who hope to accomplish memorable changes. There was no rivalry among the young men, not only because there was a spirit above personal aims, but because every man's place was ascertained and acknowledged. He had had a free field, and faisait son fait according to his gifts. If he did new and unexpected work, as sometimes happened, it was credited to him with no more cavil or contumacy than a sum placed to one's credit by his banker.
My health, which was never robust, gave way under the long strain of responsibility, and I was ordered a few weeks' rest. I projected taking it in the North of England, but a strong remonstrance from my colleagues in London altered my determination, and I made my way to them.
"My dear Friend,—You are ill, and out of spirits; won't be in Dublin for a week, and are within an hour's journey of this. Now listen to me. Put that trash about idling us out of your head. Come here. I have a great deal to say to you. Pigot has a great deal to say to you. Lucas has an enormous deal to say to you, and you have, or ought to have, a vast deal to say to the ' True Thomas.' Indeed if it were for nothing else but to get a cup of tea from Mrs. T. T., you ought not to hesitate. You sha'n't idle us. I will work in Chambers every day till three or four. In the meantime you may be with Lucas a-sauntering through the National Gallery, or collecting books from your friend Peitheram in Chancery Lane. And even if you do, I have a considerable time before me here. I have not much to reproach myself with since I came, and it would be a miserable martinet exactitude, not a good healthy working instinct, that would fear a week's visit from a friend. Come; we shall have many a good laugh at our friend Tierna's portraiture, and what is better we shall laugh with him at himself. I tell you half an hour's conversation is worth a ream of correspondence. The promised answers shall be communicated verbally.
"I say all this with of course the reservation that coming here will benefit your health, but I am strongly of opinion that it will. In the first place, any change of air is good; secondly, your spirits will be raised, which you know will re-act strongly on your body; and thirdly, I have come to the conclusion that London is absolutely and positively a healthy place; I have not had the shadow of a cold since I came here, and David Pigot, who is delicate, enjoys far better health than he did in Dublin.
"John Pigot, I need not say, joins his earnest entreaty to mine. It would be a matter of repentance to us all the winter if any notion about idling us deprived us of the pleasure of seeing you, and deprived you not only of the pleasure of seeing us, but of seeing others whom you must like to see. Believe me ever, &c.,
"I also certify to the healthiness of Babylon to the steadiness undisturbable of us students therein, and to the falsity, absurdity, stupidity, and John Bullishness of Mr. Duffy's martinet exactitude.
"Seriously, dear Duffy, I have much to discuss about Davis, which an hour's talk will expedite better than a year's writing. Your friend,
"J. E. P."
I passed a week in London, which yielded all the enjoyments and benefactions my friends anticipated.
The Confederation started with a secretary whom, after my return, they were glad to replace by inducing D'Arcy M'Gee to accept the office. John Pigot, who thought his acceptance a stroke of good luck, wrote to me on the subject:—
"Monday, 5th July.
"My dear Duffy,—Thanks for speaking to M'Glashan for me. Tell him in return that I am obliged, and will prepare the Memoir of MacDowell in the course of the summer, for any month he thinks fit.
"I heard from Bindon on Saturday of M'Gee's acceptance of office, and without any slight of Hamill I may say it was the pleasantest news to me of the Confederation since that body got born. You know I have been some months wishing just that M'Gee could have been induced to do this work; and especially that to have a man of such past and prospective reputation and achievements, literary and other, in this post, reflects on us all a sort of credit and raises the respectability of the body. This above and besides the certainty of having the business rightly done by hands so competent for business. I think we should all be heartily obliged to him for assuming the secretaryship, and I wish you would express to him for me my share of the obligation. It has besides every way increased my respect for and opinion of the man. In haste.—Ever yours truly,
"J. E. P."
A little later he wrote on another subject which interested me for Davis's sake and Ireland's:
"Wednesday, March 3, 1847.
"I have just had a note from Mrs. Hutton. It seems that poor Davis had been very anxious to have Rinuccini's 'Embassy to Ireland, from 1645 to 1649,' translated from the Italian (for a volume of the Irish Library), and Miss A. H. has been accordingly translating it (I suppose Davis would have printed and edited it, as far as necessary), and she asks me if it would be a suitable thing to do. Now if the Library was going on, nothing could be more suitable, and doubly so after the article in the Dublin Review a couple of years ago upon Rinuccini's papers. So I have answered Mrs. H. by telling her how the Library is situated, and saying that had the translation been in time, I was convinced it would have been most acceptable for your purpose.
"I added that I would write to you to find how it could be done.
"Now, here is what I want:
"If late for a regular volume, to print the translation, as I have suggested, in the course of summer or autumn. It will sell, I am convinced; but, in case of any doubt, I would be responsible for expenses myself sooner than not gratify Miss H. in this matter.
"But as you are 'well up' in the history of 1641, and subsequent years, would you write a proper preface or introduction?
"Let me hear from you on that."
In a letter to John O'Hagan at this time, one may find what, perhaps, the sympathetic reader will discover throughout the entire chapter, some light on the vie intime of these young men:—
"Have you been at Coger's Hall. There, or at some debating society, you ought to get some training you will never consent to give yourself where you are known. But who knows you in London? Discipline is as essential here as at Athens, and this, as William says, is the way to cultivate our waste lands. Some of the Maynooth Professors offer to join us in a new periodical, the proprietorship and control being divided between us. I will write you particulars by and by. But the perpetual menace of the famine made attention to any other subject only transient. Men still come back to the question, How can we save our people? "