George Fox

Life
1809-?1880; b. Belfast, ed. TCD; friend of Samuel Ferguson, wrote translation of much-anthologised ‘The County of Mayo’, poss. written with assistance from Ferguson, an early friend, who dedicated his own collected poems to him; Yeats included this poem in A Book of Irish Verse (18950. PI JMC DBIV TAY RAF OCIL

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Commentary
Samuel Ferguson: ‘Mr Fox, to judge of him by the influence he exercised on the minds of two at least of our coterie, will be recognised as a man of singular ability and attractiveness of conversation. His discourse, indeed, possessed a fascination equal to all that I have heard of Coleridge. [... &.c].’ (Q. sources; see under Samuel Ferguson, supra. and “Notes”, infra. )

A. P. Graves, Irish Literary & Musical Studies (Nelson 1913), gives circumstances of Fox’s friendship with Samuel Ferguson and quotes from Ferguson and Lady Ferguson(p.39f.)

Frank O’Connor, Book of Ireland (Collins 1979), states that the Irish original of “The County of Mayo” was written by Thomas Lavelle, a 17th c. writer (op. cit., , p.53).

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Quotations
The County of Mayo”: ‘On the deck of Patrick Lynch’s boat I sat in woeful plight, / Through my sighing all the weary day and weeping all the night. / Were it not that full of sorrow from my people forth I go, / By the blessed sun, ’tis royally I’d sing thy praise, Mayo. / When I dwelt at home in plenty, and my gold did much abound, / In the company of fair young maids the Spanish ale went round. / Tis a bitter change from those gay days that now I’m forced to go, / And must leave my bones in Santa Cruz, far from my own Mayo. / They are altered girls in Irrul now; ’tis proud they’re grown and high, / With their hair-bags and their top-knots - for I pass their buckles by. / But it’s little now I heed their airs, for God will have it so, / That 1 must de art for foreign lands, and leave my sweet . p Mayo. / ’Tis my grief that Patrick Loughlin is not Earl in Irrul still, / And that Brian Duff no longer rules as Lord upon the Hill; / And that Colonel Hugh McGrady should be lying dead and low, / And I sailing, sailing swiftly from the county of Mayo.’ (Printed in Brendan Kenneally, ed., Penguin Book of Irish Verse, 1970; also quoted by W. B. Yeats in his “List of 30 Best Irish Books”, Daily Express, 27 Feb. 1895; see Wade, ed., Letters, p.246, with ed. note, ‘a translation fro the Irish of Thoams Lavelle, by George Fox (?1809-after 1848) [... &c.]’.

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References
Patrick Rafroidi, Irish Literature in English, The Romantic Period, 1789-1850 (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1980), Vol. I; quotes the first line, ‘On the deck of Patrick Lynch’s boat I sat in woeful plight ...’. Dublin Book of Irish Verse subscribes ‘from the Irish’. [‘ must leave my bones in Santa Cruz, far from my own Mayo’; [further, as infra.]

Anthologies: Arthur Quiller Couch, ed., Oxford Book of English Verse, incls. “The County of Mayo [1250-]. Geoffrey Taylor (Irish Poets of the Nineteenth Century) explains that the ‘County of Mayo’ was first thought to be by Ferguson and is the only known poem of George Fox. Also incl. in Yeats’s Ballads and Songs of Young Ireland and Donagh McDonagh/Robinson, eds., Oxford Book of Irish Verse (1958); also in Brendan Kennelly, Penguin Book of Irish Verse [as supra].

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Notes
Dedicatory: Ferguson dedicated his Poems (1880) “Georgio, Amico, Condiscipulo, Instauratori”.

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