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Eight Engravings on Steel.

Edinburgh :



280. z 482,



THOMAS MOORE was born in Dublin on the 28th May 1779. The social circle in which his parents moved was neither elevated nor yulgar. His father was a small tradesman, of quiet, taciturn character, possessing a vein of humour which he occasionally did not scruple to exercise on the priests of his own faith. The poet's mother, good devout Catholic that she was, regarded these sallies of her husband with a pious horror. But though a little too susceptible to priestly influences, her superstition had in it nothing ascetic. Moore's gay pleasure-loving disposition, passion for music, taste for all social enjoyment, and

general zest of life, were derived from his mother. To her tact, also, was he indebted for that varied training which contributed so remarkably to his success in society. At a very early age the future poet was placed at school. Mr White, an eminent Dublin elocutionist, was his master. Richard B. Sheridan had been White's pupil. From this distinguished pedagogue Moore acquired that facility in declaiming which rendered him, while yet a mere boy, the delight of those domestic re-unions in which his mother taught her son-to associate social festivity with more refined and intellectual pleasures than the hard drinking with which enjoyment was then too often identified. Like Pope, Moore may almost, without hyperbole, be said to have lisped in numbers. The exact date of his earliest rhymes has not been preserved, but at the age of eleven we find him in print, and at the age of fourteen he has become a contributor of poetry to the Anthologia Hibernica, a Dublin magazine. Some of his verses then published as by “ Master Moore" give no inadequate earnest of his style of song-writing.

The acquisition of the showy accomplishments in which Moore already excelled was happily not purchased by the sacrifice of more substantial learning. His classical attainments were more than respectable, and his knowledge of the ancient languages was supplemented by a knowledge of the more important of the modern tongues of Europe. Italian he learned from the family priest, and a French emigrant taught hiin'the tongue of France. By this varied preliminary training, Moore was fully prepared to reap all the advantages the removal of those restrictions which had closed the University of Dublin against the Catholics of Ireland was now about to confer. In the summer of 1793 that institution was opened to Roman Catholics, and in 1794 young Moore is entered at Trinity College. At college he prosecuted the usual studies with more thau average success. The production of Latin hexameters was, however, a task from which on all convenient occasions he was disposed to shrink. Sometimes he successfully substituted English for Latin verses, gaining the approval of the judges and the reward of merit. While the even tenor of his “ life's morning march” is quietly alternated by classical studies and musical exhibition, the conspiracy of the United Irishinen is rapidly approaching its crisis. It is with an Irish poet, not Irish politics, that we have now specially to do; but in justice to the poet's memory we must cast a hurried glance upon his relation to the conjunction of '98. It has recently been made the reproach of Moore that he was at heart a rebel. A very slight examination of the facts connected with the most serious political escapade with which he was ever identified will show upon what slender grounds the charge is founded. During the last years of Moore's college life societies of “ United Irishmen” were rapidly forming within the Univer. sity. Robert Eminet, and other leaders of that ill-fated organisation, were amung his father's friends; but though on friendly terms with all the more eminent of the revolutionary party, and in daily contact with college companions initiated into its secrets, Moore never was a member of any of their associations, nor at any time their political confidant. As a Catholic he had heard the tyranny of English ascendancy freely enough commented on; nor had that ascendancy yet degenerated into a merely sentimental grievance. Did not his Catholicism exclude him from all prospect of University honours ? were not its scholarships still closed against the sons of the proscribed faith? It would not have been wonderful in such circumstances, and in such a conai. tion of society, had Moore been found committed to the fortunes of the United Irishmen. But he was not committed. He had, indeed, written a rather fervid article in their organ The Press,” but the sound and fury signified nothing. The pleasure of seeing himself in print as a political gladiator, rather than any desire to co-operate with the contemners of England, dictated the article. His own prudent ambition combined with the anxious dissuasives of his mother to keep Tom aloof from the desperate enterprise of Einmet. It was, however, known to the college authorities that he had contributed to the rebel organ; what else he might have done was not known. When, therefore, the Dons of the University came to inquire into the loyalty of the Undergraduates, Tom was among the suspected. Summoned before the tribunal that sat in judgment upon the students, the scene between himself and Chancellor Fitzgibbon is highly creditable to the youth. If he refused to share the dangers, he resolved to say nothing to heighten the calamities of the imprudent. When the oath was tendered, in a clear firm voice Tom said, I have an objection, my Lord; I have an objection to taking the oath. Wbat's your objection, sir ? retorted Fitzgibbon sternly. I have no fear, my Lord, that anything I might say would criwi. nate myself, but it might tend to affect others; and I must say that I despise that person's character who would be led, under

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