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But, Mangan, as seen in his works, was quite a disserent mortal. His translations from the German, though not strictly literal, never miss or mar the sentiment, and the language and rhythm are perfect. His pathos is simple and unconstrained; but, when he attempts humour, it is either buffoonery or the unreal laughter of the clown through his mask. We could quote whole songs
from his 'Anthologies,' which, in language and natural melodiousness, far excel the renderings of the same songs by Lord Lytton, Brooks, and others. Notwithstanding his mode of life, he was scrupulously pure, even prudish, in his versions and translations. His Irish pieces are well known in his own country, and all he wrote is worthy to be known by all readers of poetry, for they are manifestly the productions of a poet and scholar of refined taste and wide culture.
The Reverend Francis Sylvester Mahony-or Father Frank Mahony, as his friends called him ; or Father Prout, as he is known to readers—is another of the names great in Irish literature which Cork can claim as her own.
Of his clerical calling it is enough to say that during his life he did not undertake a cure of souls, and that his later years were clouded by an ever-present remorse at his having obtruded himself into a sacred calling for which he had no vocation. If he had been a lesser man is unclerical life would have entailed on him obloquy, reprehension, censure, from the Catholic Irish people; but, notwithstanding his unreverend life, notwithstanding his contempt for O'Connell, he was regarded with affection by his countrymen ; and his townsmen, ever ready to appreciate and applaud literary ability, were proud of him living, and we hope are proud of him dead.
The late Archbishop of Tuam, Dr. MacHale, many years ago reproved one who in his hearing disparaged the unpriestly priest, by saying that 'the Irishman who wrote Father Prout’s papers was an honour to his country. Father Prout did more than this. He sang • The Bells of Shandon,' a song that
has heard; and it is in the fitness of things that, after a wayward, wandering, erratic life, he sleeps near where he was born, beneath the shadow of Shandon Church, beside the bells he made famous.
'Father Frank’ was a member of an old and respected Cork family. He was descended, of course, from the first who, in the mythical times, bore the family name (which, we are told, means in Irish “a calf of the plain '), through the kings O'Mahony, and so forth. But his immediate forefathers were of the middle class, and he himself was designed for the priesthood. He was born in 1804 or 1805, was educated at France and at Rome, took orders, and became a tutor at Clongowes College. He, however, soon discovered that for neither teaching nor preaching was he adapted, and he resigned-in effect --his orders, and embraced literature as his profession. He was a principal writer for Fraser's and Bentley's—the two chief magazines of the day; and subsequently, in 1846, he became Roman correspondent of the Daily News, of which his friend Charles Dickens was editor. In 1858 he became Paris correspondent of the Globe, and remained so till his death, which occurred in Paris on the i Sth of May, 1866.
'The Reliques of Father Prout,' and 'The Final
Reliques,' have been read by everyone, and the scholarship, wit, humour, and pathos with which they abound have been admired, laughed at, and remembered. His knowledge of numerous languages, his extraordinary powers of versifying in foreign tongues, dead and living, his wonderful versatility, always excite and will continue to excite admiration and applause. He was in all respects an extraordinary character. "He belonged, says one biographer, 'to a race of mortals now quite gone out of existence, like the elk and wolf-dog.' His personal appearance was remarkable: 'a short, spare man, stooping as he went, with his right arm clasped in the left hand behind him — a sharp face with piercing grey eyes that looked vacantly upward, a mocking lip, a close-shaven face, an ecclesiastical garb of slovenly appearance. He was altogether a Bohemian and a profound scholar, brimful of wit, of sarcasm, of comedy.
"The Bells of Shandon’ was written when he was quite young, a student at the Irish College in Rome. It is said that the opening lines are still to be seen in a room there, scrawled on the wall just above where his bed used to be. At Clongowes, he had in his class John Sheehan, afterwards a well-known contributor to Bentley's under the name of “The Irish Whisky Drinker.' He had also among his pupils Frank Stack Murphy (afterwards a serjeant-at-law), in conjunction with whom some of the translations into Greek were made and published.
His connection with Fraser's brought him into companionship with Thackeray, Coleridge, Carlyle, Southey, Lockhart, Dr. Maginn (also a Cork man), Maclise (another Cork man), and others, then and since notable. He hated O'Connell, and wrote for the Times a bitter sarcasm on him—'The Lay of Lazarus.'
Everywhere a wit, nowhere a cleric, always hilarioushis slovenly, shabby, mendicant garments could not preclude the idea that the bright eyes and roguish mouth' and sudden solitary laugh were traits of an uncommon individual. He was classed with Hood and Thackeray into the triumvirate of English humourists by a French critic, and his most recent biographer says, justly, of his works : 'They are as exhilarating as the first runnings of a well-filled wine-press, the grapes heaped together in which have been ripened by laughing suns and grown in classic vineyards.'
JOHN BANIM wrote the song or ballad called “Soggarth Aroon,' and Lord Jeffrey, in a letter, confessed that of the volume of “Irish Ballad Poetry published by Duffy, of all the most pathetic and most spirited pieces,' he was 'most struck by “Soggarth Aroon,”' after the two first stanzas, Banim is, however, best known as a novelist; his "Tales of the O'Hara Family,' written in conjunction with his brother Michael, his ‘Boyne Water,' and other prose works, earned for him the distinction of being once described as Ireland's greatest novelist.
He was born on the 3rd of April, 1798, in Kilkenny, where his father was a small shopkeeper, and he manifested at a very early age a tendency to authorship. We are told he composed and wrote a fairy tale when six years old, and at ten wrote 'poems ! The author, however, gave place to the artist, and at eighteen he established himself in Kilkenny, and commenced life with this pro
fession. A romantic and tragic incident terminated his art-career, and at twenty years of age he moved to Dublin, where he procured a precarious subsistence by fugitive contributions to periodicals. He wrote a poem, ‘The Celt's Paradise”; and plays, “The Jest' and 'Damon and Pythias,' which were, through Mr. Lalor Sheil's patronage and influence, brought out at Covent Garden.
'The Tales of the O'Hara Family,' the work which is best known, was next published. He married early and settled in London, and met with some success; so that he could, as we have already mentioned, befriend poor Gerald Griffin in his struggles there. But ill-health and domestic sorrow broke him down, and a charitable subscription was organised to enable him to visit the Continent. The change was of small benefit; in 1835 'he returned to Ireland a complete wreck,' after the burial in France of his only son; and on his way to his native Kilkenny he was detained at Dublin, where he was accorded a benefit at the Theatre Royal, at which he was received with every demonstration of honour. He obtained, on Lord Carlisle's recommendation, a pension of £150 from the Civil List and an allowance for his daughter's education. He died on ist August, 1842, at Kilkenny, aged forty-four, and was buried in the graveyard of St. John's there.
John Banim has been called the 'Scott of Ireland, not alone because his novels were founded on national themes, but because he was a palpable imitator of Scott's style. He is sometimes tiresome in his descriptions, and he fails to represent the higher social classes; but his portrayal of the Irish peasantry has never been equalled. He dwells in his novels too much on the horrible; the worst and darkest human passions are too ready to his