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Mahony, Francis Sylvester

MAHONY, FRANCIS SYLVESTER (1804-1866), known as " Father Prout," Irish priest and author, son of a woollen manufacturer, was born in Cork in 1804. His classical education was chiefly obtained at a Jesuit college at Amiens, and after studying in Paris he entered the Jesuit college at Rome and was admitted into the Society of Jesus. He served in Switzerland and at Clongoweswood, Ireland, where he was prefect of studies and subsequently master of rhetoric. Here he was involved in scandals that led to his resignation. On going to Italy he was told at Florence that he was expelled from the Society. He succeeded, however, in obtaining priest's orders at Rome in 1832, and returned to Ireland, but subsequently went to London, officiating for some time in the chapel of the Bavarian Legation. While there he fell in with William Maginn, and about 1834 began to contribute his celebrated " Prout Papers " to Fraser's Magazine. These consist of episodes in the life of the parish priest " Father Prout," and dialogues after the model of " Christopher North," varied by translations of well-known English songs into Latin, Greek, French and Italian verse, which he humorously represents as being the true originals from which the English authors had merely plagiarized them. Mahony's translations have been universally admired for the extraordinary command which they display of the various languages into which his renderings are made, and for their spirit and freedom both of thought and expression. His original verse tends chiefly to show that with all his sarcastic and cynical wit his genius had also its tender, serious and sentimental side. His " Bells of Shandon " has always been greatly admired. In 1846 Mahony became correspondent at Rome to the Daily News, and his letters from that capital gave very vivid pictures of the first years of the reign of Pius IX. The last twelve or fifteen years of his life were spent in Paris, whence he supplied the Globe with a series of piquant letters on the incidents of the day. He died in Paris on the 18th of May 1866.

The Reliques of Father Prout were collected from Fraser's Magazine and published in two volumes in 1836; The Final Reliques of Father Front, chiefly extracted from the Daily News and the Globe, were edited by Blanchard Jerrold in 1876, and an edition of his works, edited by Charles Kent, was published in 1881.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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