John Bernard Trotter

CriticismQuotations

Life
1775-1818, Co. Down; liberal Protestant; br. of E. S. Ruthven, Dublin MP; ed. TCD, BA 1795; barrister; priv. sec. to Charles James Fox whom he accompanied to Paris; fnd. Harp Society, Dublin, 1809; organised O’Carolan Commemoration; d. in poverty, Cork; his sister painted the portrait of harper Patrick Quin. IF

Patrick Quin, harper
Patrick Quinn - Irish Harper

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Works
  • An Investigation of the Legality and Validity of a Union (Dublin 1799), 8o.
  • Stories for Calumniators; Interspersed with Remarks on the Disadvantages, Misfortunes, and Habits of the Irish … &c., 2 vols. (Dublin 1809), 12o.
  • The Political Guardian, conducted by J. B. Trotter, No. 1 (Dublin: King 1810), 8o. [all published].
  • Memoirs of the Latter Years of the Right Honourable Charles James Fox. Third edition (London: R. Phillips 1811), , xxxix + 152pp., 8o.
  • Five Letters to Sir W. C. Smith … Catholic Relief, the affairs of Ireland, and the conduct of the new Parliament. To which are added a sixth letter, with notes on the former. The third edition (Dublin: C. Crookes 1813), 66pp, 8o.
  • Walks Through Ireland, in … 1812, 1814, and 1817; Described in a Series of Letters to an English Gentleman, with Biographical Memoirs of J. B. Trotter (London 1819), 8o.

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Criticism
‘Biographical Memoirs of John Bernard Trotter’, in Walks through Ireland, In a series of Letters to an English Gentleman, by John Bernard Trotter Esq. Private Secretary to the late Right Hon. C. J. Fox (London, printed by Sir Richard Phillips and Co., Bride-Court, Bridge-Street, and sold by John Cumming, Dublin 1819), pp. vi-xxxvi.

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Commentary

See account of the Dublin Harp Society in Frank Callery, A History of Blindness in Irish Society (forththcoming in 2015)- as attached.


[Q. auth. - prob. from Irish Book Lover:] ‘This eccentric individual and clever writer was born in the County Down in 1775, and educated at the grammar-school in Downpatrick, whence he proceeded to T.C.D., where he graduated in 1795. Intended for the bar, he early turned his attention to literature, and his first anti-union pamphlet brought him to the notice of Fox, who appointed him his private secretary, in which capacity he accompanied him to France. Trotter’s admiration of Fox, developed into hero worship - and it is stated that the great statesman and orator breathed his last in the arms of his faithful secretary. / Living in such an atmosphere, and with his brother E. S. Ruthven, afterwards a colleague of O’Connell, it can be well believed that Trotter flung himself with ardour into the historic election of 1805 when Castlereagh was driven from Down. Thenceforth, Trotter led a chequered existence, at one time riding in a coach and four, at another pursued by duns; now dispensing profuse hospitality, to all and sundry, anon an inmate of a debtor’s prison. He evinced great interest in the revival of the harp, establishing a Harp Society in Dublin. His later years were passed in poverty, and his misfortunes evidentally tended to unbalance his mind. He died in unspeakable destitution in Cork in 1818, tended by his young wife and a boy whom he had reared and educated from poverty. Trotter plied a busy pen. In addition to the following bibliography, for which I am indebted to Mr. E. J. Byard of the British Museum, I am inclined to attribute to him Circumstantial details of the Long Illness and Last Moments of Charles James Fox (2nd edn. London 1806, 8°., 79pp.) Whilst the biography prefixed to his posthumous and best known work, Walks Through Ireland, mentions as either written or edited by him Historical Register (Lewis, Angelsea St., Dublin, c.1806), “Margaret of Waldemar”, a poem entitled “The Battle of Leipsic”, “The Rhine or Warrior Kings” in 24 books, and Cork Historical Register, but of these I can find no existing copies.’

Bibliography: 1: An Investigation of the Legality and Validity of a Union (Dublin 1799), 8o. 2: Stories for Calumniators; Interspersed with Remarks on the Disadvantages, Misfortunes, and Habits of the Irish … &c., 2 vols. (Dublin 1809), 12o. 3: The Political Guardian, conducted by J. B. Trotter, No. 1 [all published] (King, Dublin 1810), 8o. 4: Memoirs of the Latter Years of the Right Honourable Charles James Fox . Third edition, xxxix + 152pp. R. Phillips (London 1811), 8o. 5: Five Letters to Sir W. C. Smith … Catholic Relief, the affairs of Ireland, and the conduct of the new Parliament. To which are added a sixth letter, with notes on the former . The third edition. 66pp. (Dublin: C. Crookes 1813), 8o. 6: Walks Through Ireland, in … 1812, 1814, and 1817; Described in a Series of Letters to an English Gentleman, with Biographical Memoirs of J. B. Trotter (London 1819), 8o. [End].

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Rolf Loeber & Magda Loeber, with Anne Mullin Burnham, A Guide to Irish Fiction, 1650-1900 (Dublin: Four Courts Press 2006), briefly cite his complaint that ‘’[b]ooks in Irish are not to be had’ in 1812. (Walks through Ireland in … 1812, 1814 and 1817, London 1819; p.46; Loeber & Loeber, op. cit., p.lv.)

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Quotations
Fever fit: ‘In one part of the ruins, where a fine arched side-aisle was still very perfect, my guide showed some terror: I soon learned from him the cause. A person ill of fever had been left there the day before, lest he should communicate the infection to the family where he lodged. — He was left to expire! His hollow voice plaintively implored some drink; I assured him he should have it, and be taken care of, and hope revived at the moment life was ebbing fast away. In another part of this monastery I saw a hat of a departed victim of fever exposed some time ago, and at our inn I heard the following story: An American gentleman, totally a stranger, well clad and of pleasing appearance, came a few months ago to Kilmallock. He went to no inn, but wandered about the ruins, till at last entering them he was observed no more, and perhaps forgotten! He was ill, and fever burned in his veins; but where can a pennyless and forlorn wanderer turn in a country where he is without friends or money ? — It happened a gentleman was ill at the inn, and required the attendance of a person to sit up every night. The inn-keeper’s son performed this humane office frequently; and very early one morning, as the stars were fading at the approach of twilight, he walked out to the monastery to refresh himself with the morning air; he heard a murmuring noise as of some human being. It was two or three days after the American gentleman’s disappearance. He recollected this, and advanced — but can I go on? — Extended on his back in a recess of a ruined aisle, the unfortunate stranger lay speechless and expiring one hand clenched the mouldering wall, the other his hat. The young man, terrified and shocked, ran for assistance. On his return this victim of misfortune was no more! — Fever had arrested his steps.’ (Quoted in Thomas Crofton Croker, Researches in the South of Ireland, London: 1824, p.68, n.; presum. taken from Walks Through Ireland, 1819.)

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References
Irish Minstrelsy, or Bardic Remains of Ireland with English poetical translations, 2 vols. (London: Joseph Robins, 1831), cites See Trotter’s Walks in Ireland in claiming of Edmund Spenser that his ‘name is still remembered in the vicinity of Kilcolman, but the people entertain no sentiments of respect or affection for his memory’. (Hardiman, op. cit., p.321; see further, under Spenser, q.v. - as attached.)

Stephen Brown, Ireland in Fiction (Dublin: Maunsel 1919), lists Stories for Calumniators, 2 vols. (Dublin: Fitzpatrick 1809), ‘interpersed with remarks on the disadvantages, misfortunes, and habits of the Irish’, ded. Lord Holland; called remarkable by Brown; three stories, based on fact, recounting sad aftermath of Rebellion, and consequences if those in authority listen to slander … told to Mr. Fitzpatrick by persons related the the victims; his remarks interspersed; considered friendly towards Catholics; favours Irish language and land reform, also higher education of women.

James Cahalan, The Irish Novel (1988), cites J. B. Trotter as a doctor and a novelist.

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