Графични страници
PDF файл

curtain of oblivion. Controversy of rary. His son, by his first marriage, any kind indurates the feelings, and had died of decline at Madeira, in inclines the gentlest natures to aspe- November, 1845, and left him without rity. Literary, political, or religious descendants. warfare, has often rendered men It is difficult to fix the exact rank otherwise uniformly and constitution- which, as a dramatic writer, Sheil is ally amiable-callous and uncharitable entitled to hold. He cannot for & on an insulated question. Sheil, after moment be placed on a level with the death of his first wife, married, in Knowles, and is, perhaps, not superior 1830, the widow of Edmund Power, to Maturin. As an orator he takes Esq., of Gurteen, in the county of much higher ground. In private, no Waterford, with whom he received a man was ever more loved by his intimate large accession of fortune and interest. friends, or more esteemed as a social He died at Florence, where he was companion. He possessed a rich vein minister plenipotentiary, on the 25th of natural humour, a fund of informaMay, 1852. The immediate cause of tion, a delightful mode of conveying his decease was a sudden attack of what he knew, and a kind heart, ever gout in the stomach. His remains ready to acknowledge and assist the were brought home, and consigned to merit which required help while strugthe earth at Long Orchard, in Tippe- gling into notoriety.


John BANIM was born at Kilkenny, on previously presented a tragedy called 3rd April, 1798, and died in the neigh- Turgesius, first to Elliston, and then bourhood of his native city, in August, to Harris, but by both it had been 1842, when he can scarcely be said to declined. Damon and Pythias came have reached the prime of ordinary life; out late in the season, and was only but privation, disease, and disappoint- repeated seven times ; but it gave ment bad done their work upon him, great satisfaction, is still on the actand had rendered him prematurelying-list in Dublin, as in many of the old. Some years before his death, first provincial theatres, and will very general sympathy was attracted to probably be revived in London, if a the manly, persevering struggle he rising actor should happen (which is was making against the many com- not unlikely) to take a fancy to the bined attacks, which, while they para. leading character. The two friends, lysed his frame, rendered bim totally Damon and Pythias, were originally incapable of literary exertion. Sir sustained by Macready and Charles Robert Peel stepped in to the rescue Kemble. The ladies, Calanthe, the of the sinking author, restored him to betrothed of Pytbias, and Hermion, his country, and smoothed his declin- the wife of Damon, by Miss Dance ing years by a pension of £150 from and Miss Foote. Both bad extreme the civil list, to hich an addition of beauty to recommend them, in com. £40 was afterwards made for the edu- pensation for the absence of exalted cation of his daughter, an only-sur- talent. viving child. Banim began life as a The recent Damon and Pythias was miniature or portrait

- painter, but preceded by a very ancient drama, nature intended him for a votary of written as far back as 1571, by Richard literature, and her promptings were Edwards, who was a student of Christ too powerful to be resisted. Perhaps Church, Oxford, and may be consithe early success of Damon and Pythias dered as amongst the very earliest of had an important influence on his our theatrical writers. His play is future course. This drama--in which, reprinted in the first volume of however, Sheil is usually supposed to “ Dodsley's Collection of Old Plays," have had some participation, and was published in 1744. The title is quaint, certainly the organ through wbich it and runs as follows :forced its way to the London boardswas first acted at Covent Garden, on

" The most excellent Comedie of two the the 28th of May, 1821. Banim, at moste faithfullest Freends, Damon and that time, had only just entered into Pythias ; Newly imprinted as the same was his twenty - fourth year. He had shewn before the Queene's Majestio by the children of her Grace's Chapell ; except the most ridiculously introduced, for the prologue, that is somewhat altered to the sake of a scene of low buffoonery. proper use of them that shall hereafter have

Jack and Will make him half drunk. occasion to plaie it, either in private or

Grim asks if it be true that the king open audience. Made by Maister Edwards, then being maister of the children, 1571.

forces his daughters to shave him? Printed by Richard Jones, 4to, N. D. ; also,

They answer, yes, and offer to prac4to, 1582."

tise on him in the same fashion that

the royal ladies handle Dionysius. Banim might have been acquainted While shaving him they pick his with this play, although he took the pocket. Grim is not absolutely called groundwork of his own more imme- Grim the Cobbler of Croydon, but he diately from passages in Pliny's letters. seems to be meant for that personage, Edwards's play is in rhyme, and not as he is said to have a Croydon com. divided into acts. The story on which

plexion. it is founded is related at length by There was a Damon and Pythias, by Polyænus, in the twenty-second chap- Henry Chettle, acted in 1599, but it was ter of his fifth book.* Dionysius of in all probability only Edwards's under Syracuse, being offended at Éuephe- the name of another author. The ad. nus, contrived to get bim into his ditions and alterations to the old play power, and condemned him to death. by the modern dramatist are managed Euephenus asked permission for an with much taste and effect, but one interval between sentence and execu- has been objected to by hypercritics as tion, to return to his own country, as not being an improvement. According he had an unmarried sister whom he to the original story, the condemned wished to settle in life, and promised friend was allowed an absence of six to return. All who were present de- months, and consequently, there was a rided the proposal, but Dionysius good reason why the other should be demanded who would be his security. made answerable for his return. But Euephenus named Encritus, who at in Banim's play there is no such coonce, being sent for, accepted the re- gent reason, as Dionysius might just as sponsibility. Euephenus, according well have permitted Damon's wife to to his engagement, returned and sur- come to Syracuse, as have allowed rendered himself up at the end of six Damon six hours to go and take fare. months, the stipulated period of his well of his wife. We do not feel the absence. Dionysius, struck by the force of this criticism, but think, on virtue of the two friends, set them both the contrary, that the shortness of the at liberty, and requested to be accepted intervening time increases while it con. by them as a third companion in denses the dramatic interest. But amity. The generosity of the tyrant there was a mistake as the play origi. gained him the friendship of many of nally stood, which we may call an im. the Italians. Valerius Maximus relates possibility. Hermion and her child the same story in the seventh chapter were brought in at the end to complete of his fourth book, but more concisely. the happy group. The author forgot Ciccro calls the two friends Damon that Damon had only just arrived in and Phintias.t

time, by riding for life and death on a In the play, as constructed by Ed. fiery steed, and that no possible conwards, Damon and Pythias land toge- veyance could bring the rest of his father at Syracuse. Carisophus, who is mily to Syracuse with the same elec. a parasite and a sycophant, accuses tric rapidity: Damon to Dionysius as a spy. The

A short time before the success of rest proceeds as in the story. At the Damon and Pythias, Banim bad pubconclusion, Carisophus is banished from lished a poem called " The Celt's Parathe court. Aristippus, the founder of dise,” and afterwards gradually carried the Cyrenaic sect of philosophers, and his reputation as a novelist to a very disciple of Socrates, is included amongst distinguished and enduring height, by the characters. Grim the cobbler is his " Tales of the O'Hara Family,"

* For the benefit of lazy readers, who dislike to pore over musty Greek, it is well to observe that an English translation of Polyænus is not unfrequently stumbled upon at old book-stalls in London and Dublin.

† Cic. Offic. lib. iii. cap. 10.

“The Croppy,” “The Denounced," form (whatever that form may be) in which it “ The Boyne Water," ~ Father Con- succeeded in London, and in which alone I nell," and many other able and origi- could have ventured to encounter the renal delineations of national character.

sponsibility of its presentation to the public. His strength lay in the exhibition of

Taking into account the flattering and kindly strong passion, feeling, and impulse, in

encouragement I had, upon a former occa. the inferior orders and uneducated

sion, gratefully received from the enlightened

audience of Dublin, and also recollecting how peasantry: His attempts at painting unprotected by legal enactment are the intefashionable manners must be consider. rests of dramatic authors, your numerous real. ed as comparative failures. There is

ers will decide, sir, whether or no I have been perhaps a sameness in his works, which very liberally or justly dealt with in this transare confined to one peculiar class of action, when my character as a writer, my subjects, and treated after the pre- legitimate claims to humble advantage from vailing bent of his own fancy. But my writings, and perhaps, my private feelthis objection applies to almost every ings appear to be saerificed to what, under prolific writer, and is a small blemish

the circumstances, must have proved only a where there is so much intrinsic beanty.

trifling consideration, and, I consider, not an

undeserved one. A play by Banim, called The Prodigal,

“ I have the honor to be, sir, your most was accepted at Drury-lane in 1823, obedient servant, and although in rehearsal, was with

"Johs BANIM." drawn in consequence of some disagree. ment between Kean and Young, who The want of legal protection, to were then acting together in that which Banim alludes, was remedied theatre. No copy appears to have a few years after by the “ Dramatic been found amongst the author's Authors' Bill," in many respects a just papers after his death.

and valuable enactment, although the Banim found time to contribute retrospective clause was a novelty in largely to periodicals and magazines. legislation which pressed unfairly on His novels have, like Walter Scott's,

managers who had previously entered furnished matter for many successful on leases of theatres, under the idea dramatisations, and occasionally he that they possessed the right of acting adapted them himself. Amongst the certain old

pieces, which was now taken latter were The Death Fetch, The Last from them. Until the passing of that Guerilla, and The Sergeant's Wife,

act, any printed drama was open to be acted at the English Opera House

represented anywhere; and this had its with marked success, between 1825

corresponding advantages, as it in. and 1827. When the first of these

creased the publicity and attraction of pieces was played in Dublin, from a

the author's name, and helped to sell pirated copy, obtained without the

his work. Although he might lose in author's permission, and taken by

one way, he gained in another. Mr. a short-hand writer, Banim published Arnold, at that time manager of the the following letter in the Dublin English Opera House, was very jeaMorning Register :

lons of any of his pieces being acted

elsewhere, and for that reason seldom “ London, 24, Mount-street, Grosvenor-equare, "March 12th, 1827.

printed them when he had the power “SIR, Some months ago Mr. Harris

of keeping them in manuscript. It applied at the Theatre Royal English Opera

was thought at the time that the obHouse here, for authentic copies of two

jection in the present instance lay with dramas of mine, The Last Guerilla and The Arnold, but Baniin's letter shows that Death Fetch, produced last summer, and

he was the obstacle. How far he had a was informed that I had reserved to myself right to complain is another question. the right of replying to his application. But if The Death Fetch had been Subsequently I wrote to Mr. H., to the

printed and acted in every theatre in effect that I was prepared to attend to any

the three kingdoms, it is reasonable offer that he might make. My note did not

to suppose that its publicity and popureceive the honor of an answer, and the

larity would induce many readers to matter seemed ended; but now learning

look after the original series of " Tales that The Death Fetch has come out with little effect in Dublin, I beg leave, through

by the O'Fara Family," who had not the medium of your journal, respectfully

thought of purchasing that work beand anxiously so state, that, inasmuch as I fore, and by doing so, add to the prohave supplied no copy to the Dublin theatre,

fits of the author by circulating & the drama has not there appeared in the new edition. The case appears to re

semble a knife which cuts with a dou- proved less favourable than before. It ble-edge. In one particular Banim was was only performed twice, and bas misinformed. His drama did produce never been revived. There is much a very powerful effect when acted in vigour in the writing, and the leading Dublin.

character is powerfully and truthfully In 1830, Banim produced an origi- drawn, but the winding-up is undranal drama in two acts, at the English matic and ineffective. The abdication Opera House, entitled The Sister of of Sylla is one of the most extraordi. Charity, which was received with nary events in history, and a strange much approbation, and owed its suc- anomaly in personal ambition. It reads, cess in great part to the inimitable too, with an imposing air in poetry :acting of Miss Kelly. This was fol

“ The Roman, when his burning heart lowed, in 1832, by The Conscript's

Was slaked with blood of Rome, Sister, which, though frequently re

Threw down the dagger-dared depart,

In savage grandeur home.' peated, brought no profit to the author.

In 1835, Banim happened to be in Reduced to action on the stage, the Dublin, in miserable health and em. scene becomes an anti-climax, and the barrassed circumstances. His friends curtain falls flatly as the crimson dicthought the opportunity a favourable tator, after a laboured harangue, de. one for bestowing on him a testimony seends from the rostrum, and walks of their esteem in the legitimate form quietly off to his private residence. A of a benefit in the Theatre Royal, as play requires a more imposing tableau à dramatic and national writer who at the end, either of marriage, murder, had well deserved a compliment at battle, victory, or enthronement. their hands. The night took place on A tragedy on the subject of Sylla, by the 21st of July, under the immediate Jouy, was acted in Paris during the patronage of the popular viceroy, the reign of Charles X., but some of the Marquis of Normanby. All the lead- political sentiments occasioned such a ing proprietors and editors of the dif- ferment that the authorities interferent papers came forward with anx- fered, and suspended the representaious zeal to promote the object in tion. It was translated into English, view, and a bost of well-wishers formed and printed in London, in 1834. themselves into an active committee. Banim appears to bave made considerThe performances consisted of his own able use of this version, which is but a dramas of The Sergeunt's Wife and flimsy affair, and a perusal excites surThe Sister of Charity, with an Occa- prise at the slight foundation from sional Address, and the farce of The whence serious political mischief is Irish Widow. The selection was weak sometimes supposed to emanate. As certainly, and there were no actors far back as 1753, no less a litterateur of first-rate celebrity included, with than Frederic the Great converted the the exception of David Rees; but grim Roman autocrat into the hero of none were available at the time, which à musical romance, and gave him happened to fall after the close of the three songs to sing. A vocal Sylla is regular season. The use, neverthe- not much more preposterous than an less, was crowded, and a large and operatic Othello. This dramatic en. welcome sum, exceeding £200, was tertainment, as it is called in the titlehanded over to the beneficiare by his page, was translated by Samuel Derzealous friend, Mr. G. Mulvany, who rick, an Irishman, alternately actor, had been foremost and indefatigable in author, and adventurer, and successor his exertions.

of the famous Beau Nash as master of A considerable period before this, the ceremonies at Bath and Tunbridge Banim had written an historical drama Wells. If John Banim had not writon the subject of Sylla the Dictator, ten his national tales, replete and which had been offered to the London glowing as they are with imagination, managers without success. On the 18th

power, pathos, startling incident, al. of May, 1837, this play was brought out ternations of gloom, terror, and agoin the Dublin theatre, with a view, as nising excitement, joined to a graphic on the preceding occasion named above, minuteness of detail, which stamps reato the author's advantage. The result lity upon fiction, his poetry might

* Lord Byron. "Ode to Napoleon Bonaparte."

have been forgotten, and his dramas under the combined evils of poverty, would scarcely have elevated him above sickness, and extinguished hopes. In the ranks of mediocrity. His best and the vivid portraiture of Irish characmost agreeable works are those which ter, habits, customs, and feelings, he he composed the latest, when suffering has never been surpassed.


GERALD GRIFFIN, the author of the tions to the magazines. In 1825, be tragedy of Gisippus, is more generally procured the representation of an known and recognised by his national Operatic melo-drama at the Lyceum, stories, illustrative of Irish character or English Opera-house, in the Strand, and manners." The Collegians,” and but the result does not appear to the series of “Tales of the Munster Fes- have been very encouraging, for he tivals," acquired a wide-spread popula- wrote no more for the theatre. la rity in their day, and the author was 1827 appeared his “ Holland-Tide, or placed, by general consent, as an Irish Munster Popular Tales," a work of novelist, by the side of Banim and much promise, which raised high exCarleton. Griffin was born at Lime. pectations as to his future efforts. rick, on the 12th of December, 1803. This was followed by “ Tales of the His first schoolmaster, who rejoiced in Munster Festivals," containing “Card. the euphonious cognomen of Mac-Eli- Drawing," “ The Half-Sir,” and “Suil got, appears to have been a genuine Duiv, the Coiner," in three volumes. Milesian Pangloss, one of the species The second publication greatly sur. who have often sat as models to hu- passed the popularity of the first; and, morous caricaturists, but whose singu- in 1829, his reputation received an im. larities could not easily be exaggerated. portant increase from “The ColleOne of his advertisements began thus : gians," which is generally considered -"When ponderous polysyllables pro- his masterpiece. A writer in the mulgate professional powers." He Edinburgh Review praises this work boasted of being one of the only three

in liberal terms. He sayspersons in Ireland who could read correctly—the other two being the Bishop "The Collegians' is a very interesting of Killaloe and the Earl of Clare. and well-constructed tale, full of incident The future novelist and dramatist was and natural passion. It is the history of the not allowed to benefit himself long

clandestine union of a young man of good under the tuition of this " learned pun.

birth and fortune with a girl of far inferior dit,” but was placed first under a pri. rank, and of the consequences which too vate tutor, and finished his education

naturally result. The gradual decay of an

attachment which was scarcely based on at a school in his native city. His turn for literature developed itself in early

anything better than sensual love-the irk.

someness of concealment, the goadings of boyhood. While a mere youth, he

wounded pride—the suggestions of self-inwrote in the Limerick Advertiser news.

terest, which had been hastily neglected for paper; and before he had completed an object which proves inadequate when his twentieth year, he had a dramatic gained - all these combining to produce, stock-in-trade of four tragedies, the first neglect, and lastly aversion, are intelast of which was Gisippus. Urged restingly and vividly described. An attachby the praises of his friends, and burn- ment to another, superior both in mind and ing with the hope of literary distinc

station, springs up at the same time; and tion, he betook himself to the great

to effect a union with her, the unhappy wife

is sacrificed. It is a terrible representation arena, where there is supposed to be

of the course of crime; and it is not only room and opportunity for every de.

forcibly, but naturally displayed. The chascription of persevering talent; but be.

racters sometimes express their feelings with ing a stranger in London, without

unnecessary energy, strong emotions are too influential introductions, he found it long dwelt upon, and incidents rather slowly more difficult than he had anticipated developed ; but there is no common skill to obtain from any of the managers a and power evinced in the conduct of the perusal of his tragedy. Disappointed

tale." in his leading expectation, he employed himself in reporting for the The story was afterwards moulded daily press, and in occasional contribu- into a very effective drama, acted with

« ПредишнаНапред »