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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
James Clarence Mangan (1803–1849)
Critical and Biographical Introduction
 
IN the summer of 1894 some workmen engaged in removing a mass of rubbish, to make room for a new building in one of the poorer quarters of Dublin, came upon the ruins of an old cellar. A casual passer-by happened to notice the old wall, with its low window looking out upon a level with the narrow and squalid alley. Moved by some bookish recollection, he realized that he was standing at the corner of Bride Street and Myler’s Alley, known in the older days as Glendalough Lane; and that the miserable vestige of human habitation into which the rough navvies were driving their pickaxes had once been the poor shelter of him who,—
  “Worn by weakness, disease, and wrong,
  Had fled for shelter to God, who mated
His soul with song.”
From this spot James Clarence Mangan, wasted with famine and already delirious, was carried by the Overseers of the Poor to the sheds of Meath Hospital in June 1849; too late, alas! to save the dying man, who in the years of his young manhood had sung and suffered for Ireland. A few friends gathered about him to comfort his patient and gentle soul, and to lay his bones in the cool clay of Glasnevin.
  1
  The life of Mangan is a convincing proof that differences of time and place have no influence upon the poet’s power. Poverty and Want were the foster-brothers of this most wonderful of Ireland’s gifted children. His patient body was chained to daily labor for the sordid needs of an unappreciating kindred, and none of the pleasant joys of travel and of diversified nature were his. He was born in Fishamble Street, Dublin, in 1803, and never passed beyond the confines of his native city; but his spirit was not jailed by the misery which oppressed his body. His wondrous fancy swept with a conqueror’s march through all the fair broad universe.  2
  Like Poe and Chatterton, Mangan impaired his powers by the use of intoxicants. He was very sensitive about the squalor of his surroundings, and was reticent and shy in the company of more fortunate men and women: but with admirable unselfishness he devoted his days, his toil, and the meager rewards which came to him from his work, to the care and sustenance of his mean-spirited kindred. For years he labored in the hopeless position of a scrivener’s clerk, from which he was rescued by the interest of Dr. Todd, and was made an assistant librarian of Trinity College. There it was his habit to spend hours of rapt and speechless labor amid the dusty shelves, to earn his pittance. Dr. Petrie subsequently found him a place in the office of the Irish Ordnance Survey; but Mangan was his own enemy and foredoomed to defeat. He wielded a vigorous pen in Ireland’s cause, and under various names communicated his own glowing spirit to his countrymen through the columns of several periodicals. He published also two volumes of translations from the German poets, which are full of his own lyric fire but have no claim to fidelity. It was in his gloomy cellar-home that he poured out the music of his heart. When he died, a volume of German poetry was found in his pocket, and there were loose papers on which he had feebly traced his last thoughts in verse. Mangan will forever remain a cherished comrade of all gentle lovers of the Beautiful and True.  3
 
 
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