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Page:Notes and Queries - Series 9 - Volume 11.djvu/152

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saying, " We have our doubts, and now assert them in a spirit which Mr. Russell after this article cannot misunderstand." This strong medicine worked successfully, for in the very next number of Blackwoods (April, 1826) appeared a letter by John A. Russell, dated Holies Street, Dublin, 11 March, 1826, in which the writer says :

" I have now, Sir, the happiness to give the very rescribe by assuring you that Mr. Wolfe

'did actually declare to me that the poem on the Burial of Sir John Moore (now published among his

  • Remains ') was his own composition. He wrote it

out for me very soon after it was completed, ex- pressly avowing himself the author. I can also testify that he made the same declaration to many acquaint- ances in College, among whom I have authority to name the Rev. Charles Dickinson (Chaplain of the Female Orphan House), one of his most intimate friends."

In the Patrician (edited by "Peerage" Burke), 1848, vol. vi. pp. 273 to 295, is a long article on Wolfe containing the following letter from Biehop Dickinson to Archdeacon Russell :

Ardbraccan, August 28, 1841.

MY DEAR JOHN, I distinctly remember that I read to Hercules Graves Charles Wolfe's poem on Sir John Moore, " Not a drum was heard, in my rooms, No. 5 in College. This must have been between 21 March, 1812, and 23 December, 1815 ; for it was during that time I resided in those rooms, as appears by the College registry of chambers. I can fix a limit of date so far. I remember dittinctly poor Hercules' position in the room and my own when we were thus engaged. For my part, however, I think it unnecessary to assign an exact date. Many others besides you and myself can aver that Charles Wolfe gave it to us as hia own composition. Those who knew him would want no further proof that he was fully capable of writing it. I cannot but think that his sermons present even more of poetic fire than this ode. Believe me yours sincerely,


The witnesses on behalf of Wolfe's author- ship, as discoverable by me up to the present time, are Wolfe himself, John Taylor, Samuel )'Sullivan, John A. Russell, Charles Dickin- son, and Mark Perrin, arid their respective testimonies will be found either here or in W. & Q.' for 15 June, 1901, with a correction relating to Perrin on 31 August, 1901.

As regards the above-named witnesses two things may be noted : their primd facie re- spectability (the law being represented by Mr John Taylor, of the Middle Temple; the Church by the remaining five witnesses, among whom were a bishop and an arch- Beacon), and the fact that all the five indepen- ient parties were most closely acquainted with the character and habits of Wolfe, and in constant intercourse with him at the time when the poem was produced, they and he being fellow-students as well as friends. As

regards the character of the testimony given, it is as follows : Wolfe's assertion of his claim to the authorship of the ode is conveyed in two ways first, in the form of his own written and extant statement, and secondly, in that of a verbal declaration made by him to Archdeacon Russell and Bishop Dickinson, and reported by those gentlemen, who, besides being witnesses of unimpeachable integrity, had at the time of the alleged authorship known Wolfe intimately under circumstances rendering their deception practically impossible. Further, Wolfe's written statement is more than a general assertion, and contains the three following details : that he himself wrote the poem ; that it originally consisted of only two stanzas ; that its completion was due to the approbation these first-made stanzas received on recital ; and the three details here speci- fied are confirmed from personal knowledge by two other witnesses, the Rev. S. O'Sullivan and Mr. John Taylor. Lastly, the evidence of all the above-named witnesses receives a general confirmation from the Rev. Mark Perrin, who was on intimate terms with the parties concerned, and took an active part in the introduction of the poem to public notice, being thereby brought into direct personal intercourse upon the matter with the author himself.

2. Probable date. Taylor states that he thinks it " was some time in the year 1814" that Wolfe showed him the completed ode. This seems to have been a slip of memory, as Wolfe's letter sending him the finished work is dated 6 September, 1816. O'Sullivan states that "it was about the summer of 1814 or 1815" that the ode was begun and ended. Dickinson states he read the poem some time "between 21 March, 1812, and 23 December, 1815." Perrin states that O'Sullivan gave him the poem "one morning in the year 1816," saying that Wolfe had got the inspiration for it " a few evenings " before from the * Edin- burgh Annual Register.'

When the poem appeared, unsigned, in Black-wood's Magazine for June, 1817, the editor added the following note :

"This little poem first appeared in some of the newspapers a few days ago. It is too beautiful not to deserve preservation in a safer repository ; and we have accordingly inserted it among our original pieces. Ed."

In * N. & Q.,' 2 nd S. i. 158, being the issue for 23 February, 1856, MR. WILLIAM J. FITZ- PATRICK, of Booterstown, Dublin, states that he had " found the poem after a little delay " in his "file of Currick's Morning Post for 1815." The present writer has caused the file