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Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 9, page 79, March 3, 6, 12, 1858 [newspaper clipping, continued]

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Identifier: DX03467081

Title: Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 9, page 79, March 3, 6, 12, 1858 [newspaper clipping, continued]

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 following facts, therefore, appear to be established against Mr. O'BRIEN:

1. The previous existence of WILLIAM NORTH'S Micro-Cosmos.

2. Identity of plot between Micro-Cosmos and the Diamond Lens.

3. Mr. O'BRIEN'S acknowledgment that he was aware of the existence of NORTH'S story. (Vide last letter of Mr. O'BRIEN.)

4. That Micro-Cosmos was a story precisely in Mr. NORTH'S peculiar vein.

5. That the Diamond Lens is a story not in Mr. O'BIEN’S usual vein.

Per Contra.

1. Mr. O'BRIEN'S assertion.

That assertion is as follows:

"I assert, without any reservation whatever, that I am the sole authot of the story called 'The Diamond Lens,' which was published in the January number of the Atlantic Monthly; that I am also indebted to no one for any portion of the plot or language; and that previous to its composition I never had any knowledge, direct or indirect, of any similar story, whether by Mr. NORTH or any other person."

The controversy now turns on a question of probabilities.

1. Is it probably that a literary gentleman, whose reliance is upon his pen, would have nursed a story like this so many years as Mr. O'BRIEN claims to have done, without attempting to make it available previous to January last?

2. Is it at all improbable that Mr. O'BRIEN, having one been the intimate friend of Mr. NORTH, should have been favored, as all that gentleman's intimate friends were, by a statement of the plot?

3. Is it not possible that Mr. O'BRIEN may have used NORTH'S plot, and yet be entitled to credit for the manner in which he has used it? Mr. [Washington] IRVING once made similar use of an old groundwork for a tale, and the precedent was good; but there is this slight difference between Mr. IRVING and Mr. O'BRIEN, that the former did, and the latter did not, acknowledge the indebtedness for the main idea.

Still further, I have another witness, —a friend of Mr. NORTH, who was in Cincinnati until very recently. His recollection of NORTH'S story is perfect. He traces the identity of the plot through the whole current of the Diamond Lens. This gentleman is now in New York, and will be happy to communicate with Mr. O'BRIEN.

I do not wish to be considered the special champion of Mr. WILLIAM NORTH. That unhappy gentleman is now in his grave. I never had any particular acquaintance with him. The fact, however, that he wrote a tale, based upon the same general idea as the one now in controversy, I hold to be established; and, as a purely literary question, the proof of priority seems to be settled in favor of WILLIAM NORTH.

With these remarks, and having no desire to advertise Mr. O'BRIEN'S story further, I take my leave of the subject. Yours very truly,


NEW-YORK, Wednesday, March 3.


To the Editor of the New-York Times:

NEW-YORK, Friday, March 12, 1858.

SIR: I regret that, after having given publicity to Mr. MAVERICK'S elaborate impeachment of my literary integrity, you should have found yourself unable to insert my reply establishing my claim to the authorship of "The Diamond Lens." I will now endeavor to condense the chief points of that letter in the scanty space which you allow me.

The two important statements which Mr. MAVERICK advances are contained in Mr. SEYMOUR'S note, embodied in the former gentleman's communication of the 3d. inst.

I. Mr. SEYMOUR details the plot of a story called "Microcosmos," written by Mr. NORTH. Those who have read "The Diamond Lens" will at once see, on comparing the plots of. . . .

Rights: NoC-US


Dates: 1858-03-03

Type(s): Clipping, Newspaper

Maker/Creator: Maverick, Augustus

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


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