John Francis Waller

LifeWorksCriticismCommentaryQuotationsReferencesNotes

Life
1810-1894 [var. 1809; pseud. Jonathan Freke Slingsby]; b. Limerick; ed. TCD, BA 1832; bar, 1833; hon. degrees of LLB and LLD, 1852; permanent official in courts of Chancery; Registrar of Rolls Court, 1867; studied bar in London; frequent poetic contrib. ‘The Spinning Wheel’ and other songs to Dublin University Magazine as “Jonathan Freke Slingsby”;
 
issued The Slingsby Papers (1852), poems and prose; also Ravenscroft Hall (1852), a poem; became editor of Dublin University Magazine after Charles Lever; ed. Gulliver’s Travels (1864), Goldsmith’s Works (1864-65) and a memoir prefixed to Moore’s Irish Melodies (1867); he wrote entries for Imperial Dictionary of Universal Biography; later wrote for Cassell & Co.; d. Bishop’s Stortford, 19 Jan. CAB ODNB PI IF2 DIB DIW RAF MKA OCIL

 

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Works
Harlequin Blunderbore, or the Enchanted Faun (Dublin 1843); Harlequin Fulminoso, or the Ganders of Glena Fearna, a Christmas Pantomime (1851); Slingsby Papers ... (McGlashan 1852); Poems (1854), et al.; as Jonathan Freke Slingsby [Christmas column] in Dublin University Magazine, Vol. XLVII, Jan.-June (Dublin: Hodges, Smith & Co.; London: Hurst and Blackett 1856).

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Bibliographical details
The British Isles, in Picturesque Europe
[ser.] (Cassell, Peter & Galpin n.d. [c.1880]), 12o; ill. by many of the most eminent artists; ‘West of Ireland’ [Chap. 2], by John Francis Waller [subsigned end], pp.30-55; cites Otway, Sir William Wilde, Petrie, Sir Bernard Burke, Mr Willis [‘Dunluce the most picturesque ruin he ever saw’]; mentions the restoration of Cong by Sir B[enjamin] L. Guinness, and the saying of Sheridan’s Sir Lucius O’Trigger [‘snug lying at the Abbey’]; the tour proceeds from Clare to Dunseverick, and takes in also Howth and Dublin Bay [‘ranks amongst the most beautiful bays in the world [with] Naples ... Navarino’], ‘We had in view to select representative specimens, both natural and artistic, to illustrate the varied scenery of the country in its beauty and its ruggedness, its richness and its sterility, its grandeur and its dissolution; its mountains and its valleys; its lakes and bays; its inland loveliness and its bold, wild, ocean-washed coasts; its religious edifices; its mouldering strongholds; its geology, its history, and antiquities; contented are we if we have done this and shown that Ireland deserves to occupy no mean place in Picturesque Europe [56 END]

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Criticism
[Obit.,] Athenaeum, 3 Feb. 1894, p.149; Aubrey de Vere [Hunt], ‘Lines on Death of J. T. Waller’, in National Magazine (1830), p.353; Thomas E. Webb, ‘Our Portrait Gallery,’ 2nd ser., Dublin University Magazine 83 (1874);

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Commentary
Barbara Hayley, ‘Irish Periodicals’, in Anglo-Irish Studies, ii (1976) [pp.83-108], under Dublin University Magazine (p.94-97): Irish founders include Otway, Butt, John Anster, Samuel O’Sullivan, Sam. Ferguson, William Archer Butler, and John Francis Waller, who Hayley collectively characterises as young dons and undergraduates in protest against pro-Catholic liberalism of University authorities; over the years by publishing Irish work ... it established that an Irish literary world did exist. they firm state, ‘We are conservatives; and no feeble vacillation shall dishonour our steady and upright strength. We cannot assent to the suspicious friendship that would counsel an impotent moderation, where vigour and intrepid activity would prompt to rough collision. (Dublin University Magazine, vol. 9 No. 31, Mar 1837, p.365. FURTHER, From 1845 to 1861 there were a succession of editors, and the magazine was less aggressive, less national, reviving its attack on Irish literary and political subjects under Le Fanu, who sold after ten years to John F. Waller for 1,500, who edited it for seven years, allowing it to decline before sale to Kennington Cooke in 1877, the final year of publication. (Hayley, bibl., Michael Sadleir, ‘Dublin University Magazine’, Bibliographical Society of Ireland, vol. 5, No. 4 (1938).

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Quotations
The Spinning-wheel Song”: ‘Mellow, the moonlight to shine is beginning, / Close by the window young Eileen is spinning. / Bent o’er the fire, her blind grandmother sitting, / Crooning and moaning and drowsily knitting. // Merrily, cheerily, noiselessly whirring, / Spins the wheel, rings the wheel, while the foot’s stirring. / Lightly and brightly and airily ringing, / Sounds the sweet voice of the young maiden singing. / What’s the noise that I hear at the window I wonder.’ / ’Tis the little birds chirping the holly-bush under’ / ’What makes you be shoving and moving your stool on, / An’ singing, all wrong that old song of “The Coolun”? // There’s a form at the casement-the form of her true love, / And he whispers, with face bent: “I’m waiting for you, love. / Get up from the stool, through the lattice step lightly, / We’ll rove in the grove while the moon’s shining brightly.” // Merrily, cheerily, noiselessly whirring, / Spins the sheel, rings the wheel, while the foot’s stirring. / Sprightly and lightly and airily ringing, / Trills the sweet voice of the young maiden singing. // The maid shakes her head, on her lip lays her fingers, / Steals up from the stool-longs to go and yet lingers. / A frightened glance turns to her drowsy grandmother, / Puts one foot on the stool, spins the wheel with the other. // Lazily, easily, swings now the wheel round, / Slowly and lowly is heard now the reel’s sound, / Noiseless and light to the lattice above her, / The maid steps - then leaps to the arms of her lover. / Slower - and slower - and slower the wheel swings / Lower - and lower - and lower the reel rings; / Ere the reel and the wheel stop their ringing and moving, / Through the grove the young lovers by moonlight are roving.’ [Supplied on Irish List.]

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References
Dictionary of National Biography, John Francis Waller, Hon. LLD, 1852, Dublin University Magazine, &c.; lived latterly as man of letters in London. [See namesake, in Notes, infra.]

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Charles Read, ed., A Cabinet of Irish Literature (3 vols., 1876-78) selects ‘The Spinning-wheel Song’ [‘Mellow the moonlight to shine is beginning/Close my the window young Eileen is spinning/Bent o’er the fire her blind grandmother, sitting/Is croaning and moaning, and drowsily knotting/”Eileen, achorea, I hear some one tapping ...”/There’s a form at the casement - the form of her true love/And he whispers, with face bent, “I’m waiting for you, love”/ ... Noiseless and lighty to the lattice above her/The maid steps - then leaps to the arms of her lover.’]; ‘A Plea for Irish Song [acc. Contents - recte ‘Union’]; ‘The song of the Glass’; ‘Welcome as the Flowers in May’.

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Justin McCarthy, ed., Irish Literature (Washington: Catholic Univ. of America 1904) dates unnamed second collection 1854 [VAR]; also ‘Dead Bridal’, 1856; JMC selects ‘Kitty Neal’ [‘Ah sweet Kitty Neal, rise up from that wheel,/Your neat little foot will be wearing from spinning;/Come, trip down with me to the sycamore tree/Half the parish is there, and the dance is beginning/ ... ... No such sight can be found as an Irish lass dancing’ ([bold type); ... ‘Dance light, for my heart it lies under your feet, love’ (ital.)] Noe var.: JMC gives bio-dates as 1810-94.

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D. J. O’Donoghue, Poets of Ireland (Dublin: Hodges Figgis 1912),, The Slingsby Papers, prose and verse (Dublin 1852); Ravenscroft Hall and other poems (1852); The Dead Bridal, A tale of Venice, verse (1856); Poems (1854, 1863); Occasional Odes (186?) Peter Brown, Poet and Peripatetic, verse (1872); St. Patrick’s Day in my Own Parlour (Dublin [1852]?), Harlequin Blunderbore or the Enchanted Faun, pantomime (prod. Dub 1843); Festival Tales (1873); contrib. Dublin University Magazine as ‘Iota’ and ‘Jonathan Freke Slingsby,’ and became ed. of Dublin University Magazine after Lever; contrib. extensively to Cassells’ publications [see infra] and wrote commemorative poetry etc.; d. 1894. Article on Waller in Dublin University Magazine Mar 1874 by Thom. E. Webb.

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Brian McKenna, Irish Literature, 1800-1875: A Guide to Information Sources (Detroit: Gale Research Co. 1978), calls him a prolific contrib. to Dublin University Magazine for 40 years from 1833; lists works , Harlequin Blunderbore, or the Enchanted Faun (Dublin 1843); Harlequin Fulminoso, or the Ganders of Glena Fearna, a Christmas Pantomime (1851); Slingsby Papers ... (McGlashan 1852); Poems (1854), et al.; bibl. Thomas E. Webb, ‘Our Portrait Gallery,’ 2nd ser., Dublin University Magazine 83 (1874); also Athenaeum, 3 Feb. 1894, p.149.

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John Cooke, Dublin Book of Irish Verse bio-dates 1810-1894; ‘Kitty Neil’; ‘Quien Sabe?’, from Peter Brown; ‘A Waking Dream’ [‘I dream of heaven,/Far beyond those tranquil skies ... My dead, in robes of gold and white,/Alive before my eyes.’)

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Robert Farren, Course of Irish Verse (1948), He wrote the still-sung ‘Spinning-Wheel’ which, running like treadle and wheel, goes Irishly ... not great verse, but melodious, racy song ...’ (p.11).

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Desmond Clarke, Ireland in Fiction [Pt II] (Cork: Royal Carbery 1985), get things the wrong way round [‘pseud. of Jon. Freke Slingsby, 1810-1894’]; d. England; ed. TCD, Irish bar; ed. Dublin University Magazine; adds, The Slingsby Papers, papers sentimental, pathetic, humorous with poems and stories reprinted from the Dublin University Magazine (Dublin: McGlashan & Gill 1852), 144pp.; St. Patrick’s Day in My Own Parlour (Dublin: McGlashan & Gill 1852), 144pp. [pag. sic].

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Patrick Rafroidi, Irish Literature in English: The Romantic Period, 1789-1850 (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1980), b. Limerick, Bar; Hon. Sec. RDS and Vice-President RIA, 1864; settled in England on retirement. Slingsby Papers (M’Glashan 1852) Occasional Odes (Hodges Smith & Co. 1864) 23p.[?]; compilations (cf. Imperial Dictionary of Universal Biography, Glasgow 1857-63). COMM, Th. E. Webb, The Dublin University Magazine, March 1874.

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Notes
Jonathan Swift : Waller’s biographical account of Swift for an edition of Gulliver’s Travels in 1864 is noticed with reprint of an illustration of the ghost of Stella visiting the Dean, in History Ireland (Winter 1995, p.25).

Sir Hardress Waller (1604?-1666?), regicide; acquired Castletown, Co. Limerick, by marriage, 1630; colonel against Irish rebels, 1641; visited London to ask help of Charles I against rebels, 1641; governor of Cork, 1644; commanded parliamentary regt. in England, April 1645-49; one of Charles I’s judges, 1649; served as Maj.-Gen. in the re-conquest of Ireland, 1650-51; supported Cromwell, 1653, granted lands in Co. Limerick, 1657; seized Dublin Castle, 1659; sent to England, 1659; withdrew to France, c.1660; stood his trial as a regicide, Oct. 1660; imprisoned, Oct. 1660, till death. (ODNB).

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