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Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 9, page 78, February 26-27; March 3, 1858 [newspaper clipping]

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Identifier: DX03466248

Title: Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 9, page 78, February 26-27; March 3, 1858 [newspaper clipping]

Description: Newspaper clipping regarding alleged plagiarism in Fitz James O'Brien's story, The Diamond Lens, the idea having supposedly been the late William North's.


The Diamond Lens Controversy.

NEW-YORK, Friday, Feb. 26, 1858.

To the Editor of the New-York Times:

SIR: Observing a controversy in your paper with respect to an alleged manuscript production of the late WILLIAM NORTH, which bears most a remarkable, if not identical, similarity with a recent performance of a Mr. FITZ-JAMES O'BRIEN, I beg to add my personal testimony as to the correctness of the correspondent in your issue of this morning. I had the pleasure of a most intimate acquaintance with Mr. NORTH, who was engaged by me to contribute to the Sachem newspaper, of which I was editor and proprietor, and during a period of a long and severe illness, Mr. NORTH was a daily visitor to my house and there remained many hours in my companionship. At that time Mr. NORTH submitted for my perusal several manuscripts, upon two of which he had expended much time, and which he regarded with a deal of pride and satisfaction. One of these was subsequently printed in Putnam's Magazine, under the title of the "Living Corpse;" and the other, which remained inedited up to the time of his decease, I can conscientiously identify as the waif on which Mr. O'BRIEN has lain violent hands. I remember both tales with great distinctness, as much from their fantastic conception as from the apparently Germanic source of their origin. Mr. NORTH had been educated at a German University, and was an enthusiastic admirer of [E.T.A.] HOFFMANN, and other writers of the grotesque school.

Mr. NORTH, in his life-time, had been on intimate terms with Mr. O'BRIEN; but shortly prior to his composition of the Slave of the Lamp, their good fellowship had been dissolved from a quarrel, and the romancer satirized his former companion under the title of Fitzgammon in that novel, which was only finished the morning of his suicide. Any person acquainted with the two parties cannot fail to draw a disparaging distinction between the scholastic attainments of the late Mr. NORTH and the Hiberrian pretensions of the ever-present and somewhat pertinacious Mr. FITZ-JAMES O'BRIEN, whose sole merit in Saxon literature must be derived from his apochryphal descent from the Kings of old Erin.

Respectfully yours, THOMAS PICTON.


To the Editors of the Evening Post:

The tardy candor which Mr. AUGUSTUS MAVERICK displays in a letter concerning the authorship of "The Diamond Lens," published in your paper of last Thursday, compensates somewhat for the evasive character of his reply to my first note. In his last communication Mr. MAVERICK fathers the anonymous report that I am not the author of the story in question, and with a warlike contempt of threats that were never made, and pugnacity that was never demonstrated declares his readiness to substantiate his assertion. I am to be demolished the instant I desire to be demolished. I have only to say the word, and Mr. AUGUSTUS MAVERICK will descend upon me like the Assyrian. Terrible powers with which Mr. AUGUSTUS MAVERICK supposes himself invested are vaguely by him hinted at. Masked batteries of fatal facts are ready to open on me. Ambuscades of mysterious literary gentlemen (who, I suppose, are kept concealed on the premises of the NEW-YORK TIMES) only await the signal from their leader to rout me utterly. A melodramatic stranger—clad, I presume, in the usual slouched hat and mantle—is patiently waiting for his cue from Mr. MAVERICK to rush upon the scene, armed with the conventional speech, commencing "It is now four years since I read the Diamond Lens," &c.; after which, it is supposed that I will retire, covered with confusion and shame. This potent personage is thus alluded to. . . .

Rights: NoC-US


Dates: 1858-02-26

Type(s): Clipping, Newspaper

Maker/Creator: O'Brien, Fitz James, 1828-1862

Subjects: Diaries
Bohemians (New York artistic and literary movement)
Short stories


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