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Shrill cymbals, and the stormy joy of flutes
Dripping with odorous nectar, to my lips
Is raised, and mad sweet mirth-frenzy divine
Is in my veins,-hot love burns through mine eyes,
Throned by the God, and lifted by his love
Unto forgetfulness of mortal pains,
Up to the prayers and praise and awe of earth.
Much may be expected from a young poet who has already done so well; all the more that he is a man of business, and that literature is with him a staff and not a crutch.
To return a moment to Ufton Court.
I am indebted to my admirable friend Mrs. Hughes for the account of another hiding place, in which the interest is insured by that charm of charms-an unsolved and insoluble mystery.
On some alterations being projected in a large mansion in Scotland, belonging to the late Sir George Warrender, the architect, after examining, and, so to say, studying the house, declared that there was a space in the centre for which there was no accounting, and that there must certainly be a concealed chamber. Neither master nor servant had ever heard of such a thing, and the assertion was treated with some scorn. The architect, however, persisted, and
at last proved by the sure test of measurement and by comparison with the rooms in an upper storey, that the space he had spoken of did exist, and as no entrance of any sort could be discovered from the surrounding chambers, it was resolved to make an incision in the wall. The experiment proved the architect to have been correct in his calculations. A large and lofty apartment was disclosed, richly and completely furnished as a bedchamber; a large four-post bed, spread with blankets, counterpanes, and the finest sheets, was prepared for instant occupation. The very wax-lights in the candlesticks stood ready for lighting. The room was heavily hung and carpeted as if to deaden sound, and was of course, perfectly dark. No token was found to indicate the intended occupant, for it did not appear to have been used, and the general conjecture was that the refuge had been prepared for some unfortunate Jacobite in the '15, who had either fallen into the hands of the Government or had escaped from the kingdom; while the few persons to whom the secret had necessarily been intrusted had died off without taking any one into their confidence-a discretion and fidelity which correspond with many known traits of Scottish character in both rebellions, and were eminently displayed during the escape of Charles Edward.
BIOGRAPHY, although to me the most delightful reading in the world, is too frequently synonymous with tragedy, especially the biography of poets. What else are the last two volumes of " Lockhart's Life of Scott?" What else, all the more for its wild and whirling gaiety, the entire "Life of Byron?" But the book that, above any other, speaks to me of the trials, the sufferings, the broken heart of a man of genius is that "Life of Gerald Griffin," written by a brother worthy of him, which precedes the only edition of his collected works. The author of "The Collegians" is so little known in England, that I may be pardoned for sketching the few events of an existence marked only by high aims and bitter disappointments. His parents were poor Irish gentry, with taste and cultivation unusual in their class and country; and all of his early youth that he could steal from Greek and Latin was spent in the far dearer and more absorbing occupation of sketching secretly drama after drama, or in dreaming sweet dreams of triumphs to come, as he lay floating in his little boat on the broad bosom of the Shannon, which flowed past his happy home. When he was about seventeen, the elder branches of his family emigrated to Canada, leaving him to the care of his brother, Q
Dr. Griffin, who removed to Adare, near Limerick. It was proposed that he also should follow the medical profession. But this destination was little suited to the cherished visions of the young poet; and about two years after he set off gaily for London with "Gisippus," and I know not how many other plays in his pocket, for his only resource, and his countryman John Banim for his only friend. He was not yet twenty, poor boy! had hardly left his father's roof, and he set out for London full of spirits and of hope to make his fortune by the stage. Now we all know what "Gisippus" is-the story of a great benefit, a foul ingratitude, suffering heaped upon suffering, wrong upon wrong, avenged in the last scene by such a pardon, such a reconciliation as would draw tears. from the stoniest heart that ever sate in a theatre. We all know the beauty of "Gisippus" now; for after the author's death that very play, in Mr. Macready's hands, achieved perhaps one of the purest successes of the modern drama. But during Gerald Griffin's life it produced nothing but mortifications innumerable and unspeakable. The play and the poet were tossed unread and unheard from actor to actor, from manager to manager, until hope fainted within him, and the theatre was abandoned at once and for ever.
During this long agony he quarrelled in some moment of susceptibility, long repented and speedily atoned, with his true friend Banim; and went about the huge wilderness, London, an unknown, solitary lad, seeking employment amongst the booksellers, fighting the battle of unfriended and unrecognised talent as bravely as ever it was fought, and was all but starved
in the contest, as Otway and Chatterton had been before him. The production of "The Collegians," the very best tale of what has been termed "The Irish School," averted this catastrophe. But even after "The Collegians," which O'Connell delighted in calling his favourite novel, the struggle, often a losing struggle, seems to have continued. Bitter sufferings ooze out. He speaks of himself in some most affecting stanzas, as doomed to die whilst his powers are still unacknowledged :
“With this feeling upon me, all feverish and glowing,
I snatched at my laurels while yet they were growing,
For the next dozen years he appears to have lived an anxious and unsatisfactory life, partly in arduous and obscure literary drudgery, working for different booksellers at the several series of "The Munster Festivals," "The Duke of Monmouth," and other tales, partly sharing the happier retirement of his affectionate relations in the county Limerick. But in London, in spite of his fine genius, his high and sterling qualities, he seems to have remained friendless and unknown. Partly, perhaps, this was the fault of a shy and sensitive temperament. He says himself:
"I have a heart. I'd live
And die for him whose worth I knew ;