Charles Robert Maturin

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Maturin, Charles Robert, Rev., author, was born in Dublin in 1782. [His ancestor, Gabriel Maturin, a Huguenot refugee, arrived in Ireland a cripple, after twenty-six years' confinement in the Bastile. His son Peter became Dean of Killala, and his grandson Dean of St. Patrick's: from the latter descended Rev. C. Maturin, Senior Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin; and Rev. C. R. Maturin, the subject of this notice.] He distinguished himself at school and college, married before he took his degree, and having entered the Church, obtained the curacy of Loughrea, which he afterwards exchanged for that of St. Peter's in Dublin.

To increase his narrow income of about £85, he prepared scholars for college, and under the name of "Dennis Jasper Murphy," published some works of fiction. For his Milesian Chief he received £80 from Colburn. In 1816 he met an unexpected success in the reception of his tragedy of Bertram, at Drury-lane — a tragedy praised by Scott and Byron, who took much interest in having it brought forward. His profits on this occasion were more than £ 1,000, and he was induced to throw off the disguise of authorship.

In 1815 he obtained a prize for a poem on the Battle of Waterloo. His next play, Manuel, brought out in 1817, was a failure, and having launched into expenses on prospects that were never realized, the remainder of his life was a severe struggle for subsistence. He wrote several other novels and poems, besides a volume of controversial sermons. He died of a lingering disease, at his house in York-street, Dublin, 30th October 1824, aged about 42. A writer in the University Magazine says: "He was eccentric in his habits almost to insanity, and compounded of opposites — an insatiable reader of novels; an elegant preacher; an incessant dancer (which propensity he carried to such an extent, that he darkened his drawing-room windows, and indulged during the day-time); a coxcomb in dress and manners; an extensive reader... Among other peculiarities, he was accustomed to paste a wafer on his forehead whenever he felt the estro of composition coming on him, as a warning to the members of the family, that if they entered his study they were not to interrupt his ideas by questions or conversations."

Talfourd styles his Fatal Revenge "one of the wildest and strangest of all false creations proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain. It is for the most part a tissue of magnificent yet appalling horrors." Sir Walter Scott speaks of Bertram as "grand and powerful, the language most animated and poetical, and the characters sketched with a masterly enthusiasm;" while Allan Cunningham says it contains "incoherent language, improbable incidents, and distracted vehemence." Byron styles his Manuel "the absurd work of a clever man." Blackwood calls his romance of The Albigenses, published in 1824, "four volumes of vigour, extravagance, absurdity, and splendour. .. This last work is also his best."

Sources

116. Dublin University Magazine (46). Dublin, 1833-'77.

16. Authors, Dictionary of British and American: S. Austin Allibone. 3 vols. Philadelphia, 1859-'71.

166. Huguenots in England and Ireland: Samuel Smiles. London, 1867.

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