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THOMAS MOORE was born at No. 12 Little Longford Street, Dublin, on the 28th of May, 1779.1
His father originally kept a small wine shop or grocery store, and afterwards was raised to the dignity of barrack-master. His mother's name was Anastasia Codd; his maternal grandfather a gouty Tom Codd. They were Roman Catholics. Both of his parents were amiable; his father not remarkable in any other way; his mother rather superior in wit and intelligence. They took great pride in their boy and made a show child of him. He early displayed a talent for recitation and music; his mother predicted that he would go on the stage.
When he was eleven he wrote an epilogue for a private exhibition at a summer bathing-place, and won great applause by his singing of the songs of Patrick in O'Keefe's farce, “The Poor Soldier.” Long before that he had “lisped in numbers, for the numbers came. When he was fourteen his first published verses appeared in the Anthologia Hibernica, a Dublin magazine, creditable, but short lived.
In 1793 the University and the Bar were thrown open to Roman Catholics, and the following summer Moore entered at Trinity College. He followed his tastes, and only by his natural quickness escaped the disgrace of failure. He became an intimate friend of Robert Emmett and other young conspirators, and narrowly evaded the judicial inquisition which made martyrs of so many of his friends.
He was eighteen when he took his degree of Bachelor of Arts. He had already made a large part of his translation, or rather paraphrase, of Anacreon, and the Provost of the University advised him to publish it.
He went to London in the spring of 1799, and there entered the Middle Temple as a law student. Lord Moira was the first of the long list of his titled friends. Through him Moore made other fashionable acquaintances, and when the publisher to whom he submitted the Anacreon refused to publish the work without a guarantee, Moore easily secured a large number of influential subscribers, including the Marquis of Lansdowne, and what was still more important - permission to dedi. cate it to the Prince of Wales. It was published in 1800, and brought him fame. His law studies suffered under the burden of his popularity; he often had six invitations for an evening, dined with bishops and lords; everywhere happy, gay, and Irish-careless.
The next year he published a volume of original poems under the title: “The Poetical Works of the Late Thomas Little." He lived long enough to be ashamed of the indecencies which marred them, but he did not at the time hesitate to dedicate the second edition over his initials to a Dublin friend.
Lord Moira got Moore appointed Poet Laureate, but his only official work in that capacity was one birthday ode. He quickly resigned it, and accepted the office of Registrar of the Admiralty Court of Bermuda. He left England in September,
1 A baptismal register extant gives the date as 1780. The doubt is of small moment.
1803, but he found the duties of the place uncongenial, and he undoubtedly longed for the gay society of London. He appointed a deputy, and, after spending four months in travelling in the United States and Canada, he returned, home with a volume of poems completed. The new volume of “ Epistles, Odes, and other Poems” appeared early in 1806, and that same year he began the composition of his “ Irish Melodies.''
Jeffrey contemptuously reviewed Moore's poems in The Edinburgh Review, and called them" a public nuisance.' Moore challenged Jeffrey, and just as the parties were about to fire off their pistols, which were charged blank, the police arrested them. This duel resulted in a warm friendship. Lord Byron made an allusion to “ Little's leadless pistol," and the fiery young poet sent out a challenge to Byron. This also led to a life-long friendship. Moore was disappointed in not receiving high political preferment on the death of Pitt. He lived for several years at Lord Moira's house at Donington Park, writing his songs and going into the finest society, where his fascinating manners and his delightful talent for music made him the cynosure of all.
In 1802 a private theatre had been established at Kilkenny. The female parts were filled by professional actresses ; the male characters by amateurs. Moore was frequently called upon to exercise his talent on that stage.
In 1809 a Miss Elizabeth Dyke was performing the part of “ Lady Godiva” to Moore's “Peeping Tom.” She was only seventeen, and extremely pretty. Moore fell in love with her, and married her clandestinely in March, 1811.
It proved to be a happy marriage. Moore's London friends received her cordially, and the parents of both the young people quickly forgave them the imprudent step. Moore was receiving from the publishers of his songs £ 500 a year, and that with a prospect of the engagement continuing indefinitely.
In 1812 Moore began his satirical attacks on the Prince Regent and other political personages. Naturally they ruined his chances of obtaining office, though they diverted the Whig society of Holland House, and were popular in town. For twenty years he glibly poured out pasquinades, squibs, epigrams, and satires, full of audacious wit, not seldom vulgar and scurrilous, but as a rule marked by good temper. In 1813 appeared “ The Twopenny Post Bag," which, incredible as it may seem at the present day, went through fourteen editions in a few months. In March of that year his second daughter Anastasia was born, and he moved to Ashburne in Derbyshire, where, during the following three years, he wrote his romance of “Lalla Rookh," Even before he had put pen to paper he received £3000 from the Longmans. But it was some time after the arrangement was made before he actually got to work on the poems. The only sorrow that touched the young couple at their Ashburne cottage was the loss of their third daughter, Olivia, who died when only seven months old.
“Lalla Rookh” was published in May, 1817. A second edition was printed within a fortnight, and six or seven were exhausted within the year. He was enabled to pay off his debts, and to pension his father, who had lost his place as barrack-master.
He then accepted the banker-poet Rogers's invitation to visit Paris, and was so delighted with the gay city that he proposed to live there for several years. That little plan was abandoned, owing to the death of his oldest daughter, Barbara, a beautiful little girl of five. He took his family to Sloperton Cottage, near the estate of his friend, Lord Lansdowne. The rent was only £40 a year. That was his home during the rest of his life. He soon began the composition or his
Fudge Family in Paris," which turned out to be a satire on Lord Castlereagh and Sidmouth rather than what he had at first intended
- an exposé of the absurdities of the English tourists visiting Paris after the war. Five editions came out in quick succession, and Moore's share of the profits was £350. But whatever