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élite of society present of both sexes; well-dressed men and groups of fair women, all looking their best;' together with dancing, music, the Tyrolese minstrels, and Madame Vestris and Fanny Ayton, rowing up and down the river, singing Moore's 'Oh come to Me when Daylight sets !' and so on. The author of The Epicurean’ relates all this for the purpose of introducing an anecdote concerning his book, and we notice it for the same reason. During one of the pauses of the music, the Marquis of PalmellaMoore disguises the name of the Portuguese ambassador in this impenetrable mode, the Marquis of P-lm-a-approaching the poet, remarked upon the magnificence of the fête. Moore agreed. The tents,' he remarked, “had a fine effect.' 'Nay,' said the marquis, ‘I was thinking of your fête at Athens. I read it this morning in the newspaper.' 'Confound the newspaper
r!' Moore had a great aversion to having his best morceaux served up without the context in that manner; but worse remained behind. A Mr D- accosted him a few minutes afterwards, and mentioning the book, added these flattering words : 'I never read anything so touching as the death of your heroine.' "What!' exclaimed the delighted author, “ have you got so far as that already?' 'Oh dear, no, I have not seen the book-I read what I mentioned in the Literary Gazette.'
Mr Moore, 'to anticipate my catastrophe in that manner !' Perhaps so; but that which we should like especially to know is whether Mr B—m, who is mentioned as being present at the enunciation of these courtesies, was Mr Brougham. If so, the flash of the keen gray eyes that followed the compliment on the touching death of Alethe, must, to an observant looker-on, have been one of the most entertaining incidents of the fête.
The smart political squibs, scattered like fireflies through the dreary waste of journalism during the last active years of Moore's life, are not obnoxious to criticism. Squire Corn, Famished Cotton, Weeping Chancellors, Salmagundian Kings, and knavish Benthamites, as pencilled by Moore, have passed from the domain of wit and verse into that of the historian and the antiquary, into the hands of the collector of forgotten trifles; and there we very willingly leave them, pleasant, piquant, and welcome, as we fully admit them in their day to have been. Moore has also written several pieces of religious verse, which, although not of very high merit as poetry, finely at times bring out and illustrate the Christian spirit in its most engaging aspect - unalloyed, unclouded by the mists of fanatic sectarianism. As, for instance, in this verse
• The turf shall be my fragrant shrine,
And silent thoughts my only prayers.' The spirit that inspired these lines is infinitely more spiritual and Christian than that which breathes upon and gives galvanic momentary life to the dry bones of mouldering controversial bigotry. Such a hymn is worth the Travels of an Irish Gentleman' a thousand times over, and Sullivan's replies to them into the bargain.
Our brief passage through the trim gardens, gay with flowers, sparkling with light, and vocal with melody, of Moore's poetry, verse and prose,
here concludes, and we have
may be presumed, the means of forming & sound judgment upon his pretensions as poet, romancist, and politician.
First, then, as to his rank as poet. Whilst freely expressing our opinion as to his deficiency in highly-imaginative, sustained, poetical genius, and his entire want of dramatic power, we have at the same time done justice to the point and quickness of his wit, the varied brilliancy of his sparkling fancies, and the fine harmony and cadenced flow of his verse. That he was not an inspired creative poet like Shakspeare, Milton, Burns, and a few others, is true; but beneath those heaven-reaching heights there are many still lofty eminences upon which gifted spirits sit enthroned, their brows encircled with coronets bright with gems of purest ray, serene, though pale, indeed, and dim in presence of the radiant crowns of the kings of poetry and song, between whom also there are degrees of glory; for immeasurably above all, far beyond even the constellated splendour
Of the blind old man of Scio's rocky isle,' soars Shakspeare, palm-wreathed and diademed with stars. One of these lesser heights and circlets must unquestionably be awarded to Thomas Moore. His wing, it must be admitted, is feeble, requiring artificial stimulants and help to lift him above the ground a sufficient time for warbling a brief melody. He did not sing as a flower exhales—from the law and necessity of its nature; still there is at times a grace, and tenderness, and music, about his carefully-polished snatches of song, which the world is not sufficiently rich in to willingly let die. The truly-inspired poet, we need hardly add, requires no artificial preparations of congenial 'atmospheres' to perfect and pour forth the divine thoughts and harmonies which crowd his brain, inflame his blood, and stir his heart. He sings because it is a vital condition of his life that he should do so. The thoughts of Burns kindled into glorious song as he followed his plough along the level field or mountain-side. The Mary in Heaven'welled up from his throbbing heart as the sudden inrush of tumultuous memories brought back the image of the loved and lost, and came forth with stifling sobs and blinding tears of passionate regret and tenderness; and as the Poet of all Time lay dreaming in his youth by the silver Avon, the immortal creations with which he has peopled the world, thronged dimly in his brain, with a confused murmur of the sorrows, the remorse, the griefs, the agonies, the mirth, the wit, the joys, the tears, the love, afterwards incarnated and winged forth from amid the din and drudgery of a playhouse. Who can read the account of Moore's painful three years' incubation at Mayfield Cottage—which we have given nearly in his own words, and for another moment believe in his poetic inspiration? Fancy a really inspired man, possessed of the necessary faculty of verse, coming forth, after brooding for that long period over his work, and presenting to the world a pretty, perfumed, spangled lay-figure like 'Lalla Rookh,' as a true, living creation, radiant with the light and vital with the breath of poetry !
With respect to the somewhat objectionable character of Moore's earlier productions, much excuse is to be found in the heartless, soulless, meretricious, withered state of society-not in which he was born, that was sound and healthy, if somewhat perverse, but in which he chiefly passed his youth and prime-of manhood. The debased and debasing tone of 'good' Irish society, at a time when such men as Toler and others of the same stamp could rise by dint of unblushing subserviency and hair-trigger
pistols to the highest and most dignified offices in the state, and when corruption in its unveiled loathsomeness was the admitted principle of government, can only be truly estimated by those who, for their sins doubtless, have been compelled to rake in the private histories of that altogether disreputable period. This fetid atmosphere necessarily affected the imitative and impressionable genius of Moore, and his Juvenile Songs may be said to have been but a reflex—a refined one too—of the reckless, debauched, bacchanalian, sensuous tone of sentiment and manners then so fatally prevalent. The air of the regent's court was scarcely healthier or more purifying; and exposed to such influences-poor, and ambitious of applause, intoxicated by the smiles of exclusive fashionable circles, in which he was not indeed born, but which gradually became a necessity of his existence, and whose continued favour could only be purchased by ministering to their tastes—Moore, under such circumstances, should be forgiven much. As public sentiment acquired a healthier tone, so did his writings; and his last considerable effort, “ The Epicurean,' is as distinguished for the reticence of its language and the purity of its sentiment as for the absence of the fanciful genius which threw a glittering veil over the productions of his earlier life. This excusatory suggestion has been forestalled by Moore himself, and is well expressed in the following verse of one of his songs :
Oh blame not the Bard if he fly to the bowers,
His soul might have burned with a holier fiame !' We very heartily believe it; and in estimating frailties of this nature, so powerfully influenced by the strong god Circumstance, we should do well
, whilst reading Moore's somewhat boastful excuse, to bear also in mind the words of a far greater man
• What's done we partly may compute,
But know not what's resisted.' Turning from Moore the poet to Moore the politician, there is not much to remark upon; neither certainly is there place for two opinions. Moore wrote politics at times—pointed, bitter, rankling politics—but he was really at heart no politician. There was no earnestness in what he did in this way, and it was early and abundantly evident from his alternate eulogies and vituperation of democratic institutions, that he had no firmly-based convictions. His love for Ireland was a sentiment only: it never rose to the dignity of a passion. Not one of his patriotic songs breathes the fiery energy, the martyr zeal, the heroic hate and love, which pulsate in the veins of men who ardently sympathise with a people really oppressed, or presumed to be so. But let us hasten to say, that if there was little of the hero or martyr, there was nothing of the renegade or traitor about Thomas Moore. The pension of three hundred a year obtained for him of the crown by his influential friends was not the reward of baseness or of political tergiversation. It was the prize and reward of his eminence as a writer, and his varied social accomplishments. If he did not feel strongly, he at all events felt honestly; and although he had no mission to evoke the lightning of the national spirit, and hurl its consuming fire at the men who, had they possessed the power, would have riveted the bondage of his people, he could and did soothe their angry paroxysms with lulling words of praise and hope, and, transforming their terribly real, physical, and moral griefs and ills into picturesque and sentimental sorrows, awakened a languid admiration, and a passing sympathy for a nation which could boast such beautiful music, and whose woes were so agreeably, so charmingly sung. Liberal opinions Moore supported by tongue and pen, but then they were fashionable within a sufficiently-extensive circle of notabilities, and had nothing of the coarseness and downrightness of vulgar Radicalism about them. The political idiosyncrasy of Moore is developed in the same essential aspect in his memoir of Lord Edward Fitzgerald as in his national songs. There is nothing impassioned, nothing which hurries the pulse or kindles the eye—but a graceful regret, a carefully-guarded appreciation of the acts and motives of that unfortunate and misguided nobleman run throughout. Moore was what men call a fair-weather politician—which means, not that storms do not frequently surround them but that by a prudent forethought, a happy avoidance of prematurely committing themselves, they contrive to make fair weather for themselves, however dark and tempestuous may be the time to other and less sagacious men, and who, when their sun does at last shine, come out with extreme effulgence and brilliancy. Moore, therefore, as a politician, was quite unexceptionable, though not eminent. He was at once a pensioned and unpurchased, and, we verily believe, unpurchasable partisan; an honest, sincere, and very mild patriot; a faithful, and at the same time prudent and circumspect lover of his country, its people, and its faith. There are very high-sounding names in the list of political celebrities, of whom it would be well if such real though not highly-flattering praise could be truly spoken.
Moore's prose works require but little notice at our hands beyond that incidentally bestowed upon them in our passage through his works. None of them that we are acquainted with add at all to the reputation for genius acquired by his poetry. The flow and rhyme of verse are indispensable to carry the reader through stories without probability or interest, and to render men and women, not only without originality- that frequently happens — but destitute of individualism, decently tolerable. ignorant of the contributions to the 'Edinburgh Review;' but they could scarcely have much enhanced the power and attractiveness of a periodical which in his time numbered amongst its contributors such names as Jeffrey, Brougham, Sidney Smith, Hallam, Macaulay, and others of that mint and standard. Moore is assigned by his friends a high rank amongst the defenders or apologists of the Church of Rome; and we believe his "Travels, like Cobbett's “Reformation,' have been translated by papal authority and command into most of the languages of Europe. Of his merits in this department of literature, which is quite out of our way, we do not presume to offer an opinion. His book unquestionably displays a vast deal of research and learning; but whether it is so entirely perverse as its adversaries contend, or so pre-eminently irrefragable and convincing as its admirers assert, we really cannot say:
It is, after all, in the home-life of individuals that their true character must be read and studied. The poet and the politician—the latter more
especially_dwell, as regards their vocations, apart from the household tests which really measure the worth, the truth, the kindliness of individual men and women. Moore, we are pleased to be able to repeat, as a son, & husband, a father, a friend and neighbour, bore, and deservedly, the highest character. His domestic affections were ardent, tender, and sincere, and the brilliant accomplishments which caused his society to be courted by the great ones of the world shed its genial charm over the quiet fireside at which sat his wife, and in whose light and warmth the children whose loss have bowed him to the grave grew up only to bloom and perish. There have been much greater poets, more self-sacrificing, though perhaps no more sincere lovers of their country; but in the intimate relations of domestic life, and the discharge of its common, every-day, but sacred obligations, there are few men who have borne a more unspotted and deservedly-high reputation than Thomas Moore.
One word as to the music—the airs of the melodies. They were for the most part, it is well known, arranged, and the accompaniments generally written, by Sir John Stevenson. The changes in the melody which not unfrequently occur, whether hurtfully or otherwise individual taste must determine, were, Moore himself emphatically assures us, invariably his
END OF VOL. X.