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3-200 (Text)

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addressee author,male,Deniehy, Daniel Henry,32
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Newspapers & Broadsides
Deniehy, 1884
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In Memoriam "ALAS for poor Whitty! He died last night in Booroondarra," was the telegraphic message from a dear and honoured mutual friend of Edward Whitty's and our own, put into our hands on Thursday morning. The author of "Friends of Bohemia" and "The Governing Classes" has passed away in the very springtide of his youth, having given the world barely an indication of his extraordinary powers. For years few things have shocked and saddened us more than this. 
Mingled with our intense admiration for his genius was a deep sympathy with griefs which made his case signal and salient in the annals of domestic sorrow. We had never had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Whitty, but kindly letters had been exchanged, and mutual friends had created a mutual interest, and he once wrote of his intention to visit us in Sydney. Some weeks since, however, we met in the city the amiable physician who had attended Mr. Whitty with paternal care, and his sad notification at once quenched a hope we had very dearly cherished. In the opinion of the medical man, Mr. Whitty's health would not even sustain the slight fatigues of the voyage up from Melbourne. 
But still we had no thought that the dark hand was so near. Only a few months since he arrived in Melbourne. In England his wife and two children had been carried off within the space of a fortnight by typhus fever. Far advanced in consumption, he was driven abroad to seek in change of scene some little relief from the weight of his anguish, some little solace, too, for his own poor withering frame. And with the darkness of these things about him, in a strange land - though well we know he had beside his pillow, in the last hours, friends as true and tender and loyal as ever man had - Edward Whitty died on the night of the 21st instant, in his thirty-fifth year, or thereabouts. There is, to our mind, no story in the whole melancholy chronicles of the misfortunes of men of genius, so sad as this of Edward Whitty. That he was something more and something higher than a man of genius, that his nature was moulded of the profoundest sensibilities, and that he altogether lived upon deep and passionate affections, is evinced by the utter shattering of health, hopes, and interests in the world which followed the loss of his dear ones. Others, and men of fine minds and fine feelings, too, would have perhaps come out of the typhoon dismasted and with broken timbers, but eventually to repair and to ride quietly for years on the world's waters. So young, too, so gifted, so abounding and ebullient with the life-blood of intellectual power; not the mere faculty of writing graceful verses or beautiful trifles of any kind, but with that power, disciplined by learned experiences in the ways of life, to deal with men and things, hard and cold and clear, and bright and warm and joyous, just as they are. He knew life. He knew men and women, as it is only given to those destined in time to become masters to know them. And in indications of this lies the value of "Friends of Bohemia," as an implement for gauging the author's genius. The book, it is true, is a mere bundle of sketches, with no connecting thread of story, and a very shadowy and undefined plot. It was obviously no intention of the author to make it specifically a story. He only cared to present sketches of life and character of a peculiar kind. But there are scattered through it gleams of insight into human nature, worn and haggard and wilful as it is under the régime de Bohème, such as one seldom found beyond the pages of Balzac or Thackeray. 
Any writer, with "adequate experience," can write of Bohemia. But to know and tell how the poor, jaded, wild heart beats in Bohemia, to see and depict clearly and keenly, without cloud or impediment of any kind, the story of a human life, flowing forward, all heartless and reckless, through the systematic vice of communities with an intensified civilization, only Edward Whitty could. 
His creation of Nea, in "Friends of Bohemia," the poor girl-wife, that her father, a selfish peer, deeply in debt to an old commercial speculator, had given to the latter Bohemian's son, though but a sketch, is a picture of the very highest beauty, and positively a contribution to the imaginative literature of England. 
Saddest of all, now that Edward Whitty has passed away, is the fact that his genius has developed itself in no adequate degree, and in no work commensurate with its power. "The Governing Classes" is a collection of the most brilliant and, as a hostile reviewer admitted, the "justest" political sketches of modern times. But they are the mere croquis of an artist that could paint, if he chose to work, like Hogarth. "Friends of Bohemia" was thrown off so hastily, and with so little purpose of matching his abilities with the task, that we are told Mr. Whitty never even corrected his proofs. But we have no heart to write criticisms of his genius or his writings now. Some other time, perhaps. Enough to pay this tribute to his memory. And to think, too, with a sad, sad heart of all that might have been, and all that never will be; to shape sorrowfully for ourselves some faint image of the man we admired so deeply, and hoped one day to know personally and to love. His last letter to us was as cheerful as if written by a healthy and prosperous man in the sunshine of a happy home. He spoke of several projects, and said he was then engaged in writing "a Frenchy little book." How that gay expression haunts us. Poor Whitty! it is to us somewhat like the little watch and the trifles taken out of Jack Wortley's pocket, " things that women who had loved him had given him," when the poor youth fell with Diego's bullet in his heart. Alas! alas! poor Edward Whitty! many of the vastest and dearest projects that employ those foolish hearts of ours must yet lie away in that dim melancholy region where the "Frenchy little book," which the pale, wasted hand was writing when the cloud descended, must stop for ever!