[newspaper clipping continued]
AUGUSTUS MAVERICK, ESQ.
The following facts, therefore, appear to be estab-
lished against Mr. O BRIEN:
1. The previous existence of WILLIAM NORTH S
2. Identity of plot between Micro-Cosmos and the
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.
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 proba-
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 previ-
ous 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. 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, acknowl-
edge the indebtedness for the main idea.
Still further, I have another witness, a friend of
Mr. NORTH, who was in Cincinnati until very recent-
ly. His recollection of NORTH S story is perfect. He
traces the identity of the plot through the whole cur-
rent 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 ac-
quaintance 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 adver-
tise 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 en-
deavor 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, em-
bodied 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 both, on what slender
grounds I have been charged with plagiarism. In
addition, I beg to make the following statement:
Mr. NORTH S story, Microcosmos, of which I never
heard until after The Diamond Lens had passed out
of my hands, was submitted at the bureaus of two liter-
ary magazines, and rejected by both. The first pe-
riodical is known as Harper s New Monthly Magazine.
The editor of this serial a gentleman whose expe-
rience and critical acumen no one will question has
on several late occasions stated to certain men of
letters that he read Microcosmos in his critical
capacity ; that he retains a distinct recollection of it,x
and that it contained nothing in plot or treatment to jus-
tify a charge of plagiarism, against the author of The
Diamond Lens. Both Mr. SEYMOUR and Mr. MAVER-
ICK being personally acquainted with the gentleman
above alluded to, can easily satisfy themselves as to
the truth of this statement.
The evidence of the editor of Harper is surely as
reliable as that of Mr. SEYMOUR, particularly as the
latter acknowledges that he has never read The
II. Mr. SEYMOUR details a conversation which he
states he held with a friend of mind, in which that
friend is reported to have said that he remembered
Mr. NORTH S story of Microcosmos. The annexed
letter from that friend, addressed to you, will show
the value of Mr. SEYMOUR S evidence without any fur-
ther comment from me.
I am, Sir, your ob t serv t,
FITZJAMES O BRIEN.
PICAYUNE OFFICE, Saturday, March 6, 1858.
To the Editor of the New-York Times:
SIR: I have been informed that I am the person al-
luded to by Mr. CHARLES SEYMOUR, in the TIMES of
yesterday, under the gratifying title of a celebrated
artist, and find that I am there made to play the part
of a witness against Mr. O BRIEN, for the purpose of
fastening on that gentleman a charge of plagiarism.
In justice to Mr. O BRIEN I beg to state, that I have
not the remotest recollection of Mr. NORTH S ever
having written any story resembling in the slightest
degree the Diamond Lens, and as I was Mr. NORTH S
oldest and most intimate friend, I think the probabili-
ties are that had he written such a story I should have
known the fact.
I also wish to state that I never authorized Mr.
SEYMOUR, or any one else, to say that I had given Mr
O BRIEN the idea for the Diamond Lens. I think Mr.
SEYMOUR could scarcely have understood my share in
our private and hurried conversation in Broadway, or
he would not have published those statements con-
cerning myself to which I have taken exception.
Yours, obediently. F. BELLEW.
[NOTE BY MR. SEYMOUR. The above letter seems to
deny something, but in reality does not. It has, like
Mr. O BRIEN S communication, a somewhat awkward
wriggle towards a doubt concerning the prior-exis-
tence of NORTH S Micro-Cosmos. It is in vain. The
plot of Mr. NORTH S story has been published, and its
truth recognized by scores of his friends. Compare it
with the Diamond Lens, as Mr. O BRIEN suggests.
If there be no resemblance, there is no plagiarism: if
there be a resemblance, why then Mr. O BRIEN gets
the benefit of it.
Mr. BELLEW did not authorize Mr. SEYMOUR to
say what he did, nor did he authorize him not to say
it. There was no allusion to the private character of
the conversation ; no confidence imposed, con-
sequently none betrayed. But to set the matter
entirely at rest, Mr. SEYMOUR mentions this circum-
stance, (also without authority:) Many days ago a
gentleman addressed him in Broadway, and stated as
an item of down-town news, that Mr. BELLEW had
said so-and-so (what Mr. SEYMOUR published) openly
in the office of a public Journal. Mr. SEYMOUR, there-
fore, concluded that Mr. BELLEW, as the oldest and
most intimate friend of Mr. NORTH, was naturally
and creditably anxious to act as his champion. It is
worthy of mention, too, that Mr. BELLEW S name was
not mentioned until now. He has (not unwisely,
perhaps) himself insisted on being betrayed.
[NOTE BY THE EDITOR. This must end this con
troversy so far as the columns of the TIMES are con-
[handwritten by Gunn]
x Guerney told me the contrary
of this &c. Bellew told me
also Cahill as he, I have no doubt be-
lieved, that the idea of the story was
his originally. And O B s narration
of his proposed plot for the story
to myself and others, before it appear-
ed was exactly similar to North s
Microcosmos as described by Seymour.
|Title:||Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Nine: page seventy-nine|
|Description:||Newspaper clipping regarding alleged plagiarism in Fitz James O'Brien's ''The Diamond Lens'' from a story by the late William North.|
|Subject:||Bellew, Frank; Cahill, Frank; Guernsey; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Irving, Washington; Maverick, Augustus; New York times.; North, William; O'Brien, Fitz James; Plagiarism; Seymour, Charles (Bailey)|
|Coverage (City/State):||[New York, New York]|
|Title:||Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Nine|
|Description:||Includes descriptions of boardinghouse living, a picnic at Hoboken with other New York artists and journalists, his drawing and writing work in New York, attending a lecture by Lola Montez, visits to James Parton and Fanny Fern and the Edwards family, a controversy over Fitz James O'Brien's story ''The Diamond Lens,'' artist Sol Eytinge's relationship with writer Allie Vernon, the suicide of writer Henry William Herbert, antics of the New York Bohemians, the interest of people living in his boarding house in spiritualism, a visit to his friend George Bolton's farm in Canada, a visit to Niagara Falls, and a scandal involving Harbormaster Willis Patten, who lives in his boarding house.|
|Subject:||Boardinghouses; Bohemians; Farms; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Publishers and publishing; Suicide; Travel; Women|
|Coverage (City/State):||New York, New York; Rochester, New York; Elmira, New York; Paris, Ontario, Canada|
|Note:||Thomas Butler Gunn was born February 15, 1826, in Banbury, England, and came to New York in 1849. During the Civil War he worked as a correspondent for the New York Tribune and the New York Evening Post. He returned to England in 1863, and died in Birmingham in April 1903. The collection includes twenty-one volumes of his diaries, including newspaper clippings, letters, photographs, sketches, and various other items inserted by Gunn. Diary entries date from July 7, 1849, to April 7, 1863, and include his experiences with the New York publishing and literary world, his descriptions of boarding houses, his travels throughout the United States, and his experiences traveling with the Federal army as a Civil War correspondent.|
|Publisher:||Missouri History Museum|
|Rights:||Copyright 2011 Missouri History Museum.|
|Source:||Page images, transcriptions, and metadata of the Thomas Butler Gunn diaries have been provided by the Missouri History Museum.|