Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

A BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SKETCH

OF

THOMAS MOORE, ESQ.

COMPRISING ANECDOTES OF ANCIENT MINSTRELSY, ILLUSTRATIVE OF THE

« IRISH MELODIES."

BY J. W. LAKE.

NOTWITHSTANDING the number of literary men to words that burn, and sentiments that find an echo ta whom Ireland has given birth, there is very little every generous breast. connected with their names which conveys to us any Had Mr. Moore done no more than this, he would thing of a national association; for the land of their be entitled to the gratitude of his countrymen; but nativity scarcely enjoys a single ray of that brilliant his genius, like his own Peri, seems never pleased, mind, which sheds its intellectual brightness over the but while hovering over the region he loves ; or if it sister country. Congreve was an apostate, and Swift makes a short excursion, it is only in the hope of only by accident a patriot; whilst Goldsmith was securing some advantage that may accelerate the weak enough to affect an air of contempt for a peo- removal of those disqualifications, which are supposed ple whose accent was indelibly stamped on his tongue. to exclude happiness from the limits of his country We could protract the list of her ungrateful and In“ Lalla Rookh” he has given his fire-worshippers thoughtless “men of mind" even to our own day; the wrongs and feelings of Irishnien; while, in the but the task would be invidious, and we gladly turn " Memoirs of Captain Rock," he has accomplished a from it to one who forms a splendid exception-one most difficult task-written a history of Ireland that who is not ashamed of Ireland, and of whom Ireland has been read. is justly proud.

On such grounds we may well claim for Mr. Moore

what he deserves—the crown of patriotism; but it is Land of the Muse! in glory's lay,

not on this head alone he is entitled to our praise. In history's lenf thy name shall soar

As a poet, since the lamented death of Byron, he When, like a meteor's noxious ray,

stands almost without a competitor; and as a proseThe reign of tyranny is o'er; Immortal names have honour'd thee

writer, he is highly respectable. A Sheridan, a Wellesley;

Mr. Moore is the only son of the late Mr. Garret And still is beaming round thy shoro

Moore, formerly a respectable tradesman in Dublin, The spirit bright of Liberty,

where our poet was born on the 28th of May, 1780. For thou canst boast a patriot, Moore!

He has two sisters ; and his infantine days seem to

have left the most agreeable impressions on his meMr. Moore is every way an Irishman, in heart, in mory. In an epistle to his eldest sister, dated Novem. feelings, and in principles. For his country he has ber, 1803, and written from Norfolk in Virginia, he done more than any man living: he has associated retraces with delight their childhood, and describes her name, her wrongs, and her attributes, with poetry the endearments of home, with a sensibility as exquiand music, neither of which can ever die, while taste, site as that which breathes through the lines of Cow. patriotism, and literature subsists in the world; and per on receiving his mother's picture. whilst these survive, Ireland will form the theme of He acquired the rudiments of an excellent education Beauty's song, and Irish music the charm of every under the care of the late Mr. Samuel Whyte, of cultivated mind. But, all extrinsic circumstances Grafton-street, Dublin, a gentleman extensively known apart, there is in the melodies of Mr. Moore a sacred and respected as the early tutor of Sheridan. He fire, which conveys its vividness to the soul of his evinced guch talent in early life, as determined his readers ; and they must be made of sterner stuff than father to give him the advantages of a superior eduthe ordinary race of men, if their bosoms do not glow cation, and at the early age of fourteen, he was entered with liberal and patriotic enthusiasm, while they pe- a student of Trinity College, Dublin. ruse the harmonious creations of a poet who has Mr. Moore was greatly distinguished while at the slarhed the wild and eccentric airs of his country in University, by an enthusiastic attachment to the liberty

B

and independence of his country, which he more than ment of Registrar to the Admiralty. This was a once publicly asserted with uncommon energy and patent place, and of a description so unsuitable to his eloquence; and he was equally admired for the splen- temper of mind, that he soon found it expedient to dour of his classical attainments, and the sociability fulfil the duties of it by a deputy, with whom, in con of his disposition. On the 19th November, 1799, Mr. sideration of circumstances, he consented to divide Moore entered himself a member of the honourable the profits accruing from it. From this situation, Society of the Middle Temple, and in the course of however, he never derived any emolument; though, the year 1800, before he had completed the 20th year a few years since, he suffered some pecuniary inconof his age, he published his translation of the “Odes venience, owing to the misconduct of his deputy. of Anacreon" into English verse with notes, from Alluding to his trip across the Atlantic, in a work whence, in the vocabulary of fashion, he has ever published soon after his return to Europe, he says: since been designated by the appellation of Anacreon "Though curiosity, therefore, was certainly not the Moore. So early as his twelfth year he appears to motive of my voyage to America, yet it happened have meditated on executing this performance, which, that the gratification of curiosity was the only advanif not a close version, must be confessed to be a fas- tage which I derived from it. Having remained about cinating one, of this favourite bard. The work is a week at New York," he continues, "where I saw introduced by a Greek ode from the pen of the Trans- Madame, the half repudiated wife of Jerome Baonalator, and is dedicated, with permission, to his Royal parte, and felt a slight shock of an earthquake, the Highness the Prince of Wales, now George the only things that particularly awakened my attention, Fourth. When Mr. Moore first came to London, his I sailed again for Norfolk, where I proceeded on my youthful appearance was such, that being at a large tour northward through Williamsburg, Richmond," dinner-party, and getting up to escort the ladies to the etc. In October, 1804, he quitted America on his drawing room, a French gentleman observed, “ Ah! le return to England, in the Boston frigate, commanded petit bon homme qui s'en va!" Mr. Moore's subse- by Capt. Douglas, whom he has highly eulogized for quent brilliant conversation, however, soon proved his attention during the voyage. In 1806, he pub him to be, though little of stature, yet, like Gay, “in lished his remarks on the Manners and Society of wit a man." Assuming the appropriate name of America, in a work entitled Odes and Epistles. The Little, our author published, in 1801, a volume of preface to this little work sufficiently evinced the original poems, chiefly amatory. Of the contents of talent of Mr. Moore as a writer of prose. this volume it is impossible to speak in terms of un

The fate of Addison with his Countess Dowager qualified commendation. Several of the poems ex- holding out no encouragement for the ambitious love hibit strong marks of genius: they were the productions of Mr. Moore, he wisely and happily allowed his of an age, when the passions very often give a colour- good taste to regulate his choice in a wife, and some ing too warm to the imagination, which may in some years ago married Miss Dyke, a lady of great personal degree palliate, if it cannot excuse, that air of lubricity beauty, most amiable disposition, and accomplished which pervades too many of them. In the same manners, in whose society he passes much of his year, his “ Philosophy of Pleasure" was advertised, time in retirement at his cottage near Devizes, diverbut was never published.

sified by occasional visits to London. To complete Mr, Moore's diffidence of his poetical talents in this picture of domestic happiness, he is the father of duced him to adopt, and with reluctance to reject, as several lovely children, on whose education he bea motto for his work, the quotation from Horace, stows the most judicious and attentive care. Primum ego me illorum, quibus dederim esse poetis,

Mr. Moore appears equally to have cultivated a

taste for music as well as for poesy, and the late cele Excerpam numero; neque enim concludere versus Dixeris esse satis

brated Dr. Burney was perfectly astonished at his

talent, which he emphatically called "peculiarly his and at a later period, when his reputation was fully own.' Nor has he neglected those more solid established, he spoke of himself with his wonted mo- attainments which should ever distinguish the welldesty. “Whatever fame he might have acquired, he bred gentleman, for he is an excellent general scholar, attributed principally to the verses which he had and particularly well read in the literature of tho adapted to the delicious strains of Irish melody. His middle ages. His conversational powers are great, verses, in themselves, could boast of but little merit; and his modest and unassuming manners have placed but, like fies preserved in amber, they were esteemed him in the highest rank of cultivated society. in consequence of the precious material by which The celebrated poem of Lalla Rookh appeared in they were surrounded,"

1817; in the summer of which year our poet visited Mr. Sheridan, in speaking of the subject of this the French capital, where he collected the materials memoir, said, “That there was no man who put so for that humorous production, "The Fudge Family much of his heart into his fancy as Tom Moore: that in Paris.” In the following year, he went to Ireland, his soul seemed as if it were a particle of fire sepa- on which occasion a dinner was given to him, on the rated from the sun, and was always fluttering to get 8th of June, 1818, at Morrison's Hotel in Dublin, back to that source of light and heat.”

which was graced by a large assemblage of the most Towards the autumn of 1803, Mr. Moore embarked distinguished literary and political characters. The for Bermuda ;" where he had obtained the appoint- Earl of Charlemont took the head of the table, Mr.

Moore sat on his right hand, and Mr. Moore, sen *The scene of Shakspeare's inimitable tragedy of “The (since dead,) a venerable old gentleman, the father of Tempest," is said to have been laid in the island of Ber- our bard, was on his left. As soon as the cloth was muda.

removed, Non nobis, Domine, was sung by the

vocalists present; numerous loyal and patriotic toasts that produced the most lively emotion throughout tha followed. The Earl of Charlemont then proposed room. the memory of the late lamented Princess Charlotte, A gentleman afterwards sang a lively and wellwhich was drank in solemn silence; after which a written song, composed for the occasion. The subsweet and plaintive song was sung, in commemora- ject was the poets' Election in Olympus, at which tion of her late Royal Highness. After a short inter- there were several candidates, such as Byron, Scott, val, the Earl of Charlemont again rose, and, with a Southey, etc.; but which ended in a due return of suitable eulogium, proposed the health of the distin- Moore, who had a great majority of votes. This jeu guished Irishman who had honoured the country with d'esprit produced much merriment, and the health of his presence. When the applause had subsided, Mr. the author was drank with applause. Moore rose, much affected, and spoke to the follow- Lord Charlemont then gave the living Poets of ing effect:

Great Britain ;' on which Mr. Moore said: “ I feel this the very proudest moment of my whole “Gentlemen, notwithstanding the witty song which life; to receive such a tribute from an assembly like you have just heard, and the flattering elevation which this around me, composed of some of the warmest the author has assigned me, I cannot allow such a and manliest hearts that Ireland can boast, is indeed mark of respect to be paid to the illustrious names a triumph that goes to my very heart, and awakens that adorn the literature of the present day, without there all that an Irishman ought to feel, whom Irish- calling your attention awhile to the singular constel. men like you have selected for such a distinction.- lation of genius, and asking you to dwell a little on Were my merits a hundred times beyond what the the brightness of each particular star that forms it. partiality of the noble chairman has invested me with, Can I name to you a Byron, without recalling to your this moment, this golden moment of my life, would hearts recollections of all that his mighty genius has far exceed them all

. There are some among you, awakened there; his energy, his burning words, his gentlemen, whose friendship has been the strength intense passion, that disposition of fine fancy to wanand ornament, the 'dulce decus' of my existence; der only among the ruins of the heart, to dwell in who, however they differ from my public sentiments, places which the fire of feeling has desolated, and, have never allowed that transient ruffle on the surface like the chesnut-tree, that grows best in volcanic to impede the progress of the deep tide of friendship soils, to luxuriate most where the conflagration of beneath; men who feel that there is something inore passion has left its mark? Need I mention to you a sacred than party, and whose noble natures, in the Scott, that fertile and fascinating writer, the vegeta. worst of times, would come out of the conflict of tion of whose mind is as rapid as that of a northern public opinion, like pebbles out of the ocean, but more summer, and as rich as the most golden harvest of smooth and more polished from its asperities by the the south ; whose beautiful creations succeed each very agitation in which they had been revolving. To other like fruits in Armida's enchanted garden--'one see them beside me on a day like this, is pleasure that scarce is gathered ere another grows ! Shall I recall lies too deep for words. To the majority of you, to you a Rogers (to me endeared by friendship as gentlemen, I am unknown; but as your countryman, well as genius,) who has hung up his own name on as one who has ventured to touch the chords of Ire- the shrine of memory among the most imperishable land's Harp, and whose best fame is made out of the tablets there? A Southey, not the Laureate, but the echoes of their sweetness; as one whose humble author of “Don Roderick," one of the noblest and talents have been ever devoted, and, with the blessing most eloquent poems in any language? A Campbell, of God, ever shall be devoted to the honour and ad- the polished and spirited Campbell, whose song of vancement of his country's name; whose love for " Innisfal" is the very tears of our own Irish muse, that country, even they, who condemn his manner of crystalized by the touch of genius, and made eternal? showing it, will at least allow to be sincere, and per- A Wordsworth, a poet, even in his puerilities, whose haps forgive its intemperance for its truth-setting capacious mind, like the great pool of Norway, draws him down as one who loved, not wisely, but too into its vortex not only the mighty things of the deep, well:—to most of you, gentlemen, I say, I am but but its minute weeds and refuse? A Crabbe, who thus known. We have hitherto been strangers to has shown what the more than galvanic power of each other; but may I not flatter myself that from this talent can effect, by giving not only motion, but life night a new era of communion begins between us? and soul to subjects that seemed incapable of it? I The giving and receiving of a tribute like this is the could enumerate, gentlemen, still more, and from very hot-bed of the heart, forcing at once all its feel thence would pass with delight to dwell upon the ing into a fulness of fruit, which it would take years living poets of our own land ;-the dramatic powers of ordinary ripening to produce; and there is not a of a Maturin and a Sheil, the former consecrated by man of you who has pledged the cup of fellowship the applause of a Scott and a Byron, and the latter this night, of whom I would not claim the privilege by the tears of some of the brightest eyes in the emof grasping by the hand, with all the cordiality of a pire; the rich imagination of a Phillips, who has long and well-cemented friendship. I could not say courted successfully more than one muse—the versamoru if I were to speak for ages. With a heart full tile genius of a Morgan, who was the first that mated as this glass, I thank you for your kindness to me, our sweet Irish strains with poetry worthy of their and have the sincere gratification of drinking all your pathos and their force. But I feel I have already healths."

trespassed too long upon your patience and your Lord Allen "the memory of Mr. Curran;" on time. I do not regret, however, that you have deigned which a very modest, pathetic, and eloquent speech to liston with patience to this humble tributo to the was delivered by his son, in a tone and manner living masters of the English lyre, which I, 'the

gave

meanest of the throng,' thus feebly, but heartily, have and matter-of-fact steadiness of business for thosh paid them."

spirit of fairness and liberality among public men, In 1822, our author made a second visit to Paris, which extracts the virus of personality out of party where he resided for a considerable time with his zeal, and exhibits so often (too often, I am sorry lo say, amiable wife and family. The fame of his genius, his of late) the touching spectacle of the most sturdy po. social yet unpretending manners, and his musical litical chieftains pouring out at the grave of their most talents and conversation, acquired him much esteem violent antagonists such tributes, not alone of justice, with the most eminent literary and literary-loving but of cordial eulogy, as show how free from all pricharacters of the French capital. During his stay in vate rancour was the hostility that separated them that city, at the request of Messrs. Galignani, he sat and lastly (as I trust I may say, not only without for his portrait, which was most ably executed by F. infringing, but in strict accordance with, that wise Sieurac, and is allowed by all who have seen Mr, tact which excludes party politics from a meeting like Moore to be a masterly likeness. An excellent en- the present,) for that true and well-understood love graving from it, is prefixed to the present edition of his of liberty, which, through all changes of chance and works. The writer of this sketch may perhaps be ex- time, has kept the old vessel of the Constitution sea. cused for introducing here an impromptu he wrote, in worthy-which, in spite of storms from without, and the blank leaf of a book belonging to a little girl, the momentary dissensions between the crew within, daughter of Mr. Moore, at his house in the Champs still enables her to ride, the admiration of the world, Elysees, Paris :

and will, I trust in God, never suffer her to founderSweet child! when on thy beauteous face,

for all these qualities, and many, many more that The blush of innocence I view,

could be enumerated, equally lofty and equally valuaThy gentle mother's features trace,

ble, the most widely-travelled Englishman may Thy father's eye of genius too,

proudly say, as he sets his foot once more upon the If envy wakes a transient sigh,

chalky cliffs,— This is my own, my native land, and That face is my apology.

I have seen nothing that can, in the remotest degree, Previous to Mr. Moore leaving Paris, the British compare with it.'Gentlemen, I could not help,-in pobility and gentry resident in that capital gave him a that fulness of heart, which they alone can feel tomost splendid dinner at Roberts's. About 60 persons wards England who have been doomed to live for were present; Lord Trimblestown was in the chair, some time out of it-paying this feeble tribute to that supported on his right by Mr. Moore, and on his left most noble country; nor can I doubt the cordiality by the Earl of Granard. The vice-presidents were with which you will drink—Prosperity, a long prosSir Godfrey Webster, Sir John Byerley, and the perity to Old England.'' Reverend Archibald Douglas, who superintended the This speech was hailed with the warmest acclamapreparations for the banquet, which consisted of tions, and the utmost hilarity prevailed till“ morning every luxury the gastronomic art could produce. Mr. grey began to peep.” Never did more gaiety, good Moore was in high health and spirits ; songs, catches, humour, and cordiality grace a poet's festival, than at and glees, blended delightfully with the sparkling this farewell dinner to Tom Moore. Champagne. Several speeches were made by Lord To the above specimens of our author's oratorical Trimblestown, Messrs. Byerley, Kenney, Grattan, powers, we subjoin here two other speeches, of more etc.; and Mr. Moore introduced the toast of “Pros- recent date, which he delivered on occasions which perity to Old England" in the following eloquent called forth all the glow of his heart, and sympathy language:

of his nature. “As the noble chairman has, in compliment to the On the 6th of last May, the anniversary meeting land of my birth, given the ever-welcome toast of of the patrons and friends of the “ Artists' Benevo* Prosperity to Ireland,' I beg leave to suggest a lent Fund" was held at the Freemasons' Tavern, the similar tribute to that other country to which we all Right Hon. Frederick Robinson, Chancellor of the belong, and to whose real greatness and solid glory- Exchequer, in the chair. In the course of the evenall Irishman as I am, and with my political and his- ing, Mr. Shee, R. A., proposed as a toast “The health torical recollections fresh about me-I am most ready of Thomas Moore, and Thomas Campbell," which to bear testimony and homage before the world. was drunk with enthusiastic applause. Immediately Yes, gentlemen, there may be, and there are (for God after this Mr. Moore rose, and returned thanks as forbid that I should circumscribe virtue within any follows:particular latitude,) there may be, and there are high "I assure the meeting that I feel very sensibly and minds, warm hearts, and brave arms every where. very strongly the high honour which has been conBut for that genuine high-mindedness, which has ferred on me, nor do I feel it the less sensibly, from honesty for its basis—the only sure foundation upon the kind and warm-hearted manner in which the toast which any thing lofty was ever built—which can dis- hast been proposed by my excellent friend and fellowtinguish between real, substantial greatness, and that countryman. To have my name coupled with that false, inflated glory of the moment, whose elevation, of Mr. Campbell, I feel to be no ordinary distinction. like that of the balloon, is owing to its emptiness, or if a critical knowledge of the arts were necessary for if not to its emptiness, at least to the levity of its a just admiration of them, I must at once admit, much freight-for that good faith, that punctuality in en- as I delight in them, that I cannot boast of that know gagements, which is the soul of all commercial as ledge. I am one of those uninitiated worshipper well as all moral relations, and which, while it gives who admire very sincerely, though perhaps I could to business the confidence and good understanding not, like the initiated, give a perfectly satisfactory of friendship, introduces into friendship the regularity reason for my admiration. I enjoy the arts, as a DAR unacquainted with astronomy enjoys the beauty of Jnified and of a higher elevation. There is an anecsunset, or the brilliant wonders of a starry night. dote in the history of literature not unconnected with Amongst the many objects of commiseration with this topic. When the art of printing was first intro which the world unfortunately abounds, there is not duced, the types with which the first works were one that appeals more intensely to the feelings than printed were taken down and converted into drinkingthe family which a man of genius leaves behind him, cups, to celebrate the glory of the invention. To be desolate and forsaken ; their only distinction the re-sure, there have been other literary glasses not quite flected light of a name which renders their present so poetical; for it has been said, that as the warriors misery more conspicuous, and the contemplation of of the North drank their mead in the hall of Odin out which must add poignancy to their sufferings. There of the skulls of those whom they had slain in battle is no object under heaven more sure to be visited so booksellers drank their wine out of the skulls of with the blessings of success than that which has in authors. (Laughter and applause.) But different view the alleviation of such misery. I am happy to times have now arrived ; for authors have got their find that the Government, of which the Right Ho- share of the aurum potabile, and booksellers have got nourable Chairman forms a part, has taken the fine rather the worst of it. There is one peculiarity atuts under their protection. It is for them a proud tendant upon genius, which is well worth mentioning, and honourable distinction, that, while they show with reference to the great objects of this admirable they possess the talents of statesmen, they also prove Institution. Men of genius, like the precious per: they have the liberal feelings which belong to men fumes of the East, are exceedingly liable to exhaus: of taste.”

tion, and the period often comes when nothing of it This speech was received with repeated cheering, remains but its sensibility; and the light, which long and the eloquent speaker sat down amidst the loudest gave life to the world, sometimes terminates in beapplause.

coming a burden to itself. (Great applause.) When At the 37th Anniversary of the “Literary Fund we add to that the image of Poverty-when we conSociety," Sir John Malcolm introduced the health of sider the situation of that man of genius, who, in his our poet in the following manner :

declining years and exhausted resources, sees nothing " It is another remarkable feature of this Institution, before him but indigence—it is then only that we can that its applause may be valuable to genius, when its estimate the value of this Institution, which stretches money is not wanted. I allude to one now present out its friendly band to save him from the dire caamongst us, whom I have not the honour of knowing lamity. (Applause.) This is a consideration which personally, but whose fame is well known all over ought to have its due effect upon the minds of the the world. I now claim the liberty to pay my tribute easy and opulent, who may themselves be men of of admiration to the individual in question; for, al- genius; but there may be others who have no property though I have spent a great part of my life in distant to bestow upon them; and the person who now adclimes, his fame has reached me; and the merit of dresses you speaks the more feelingly, because he one of his works I am myself well able to appreciate cannot be sure that the fate of genius, which he has -I mean Lalla Rookh-in which the author has just been depicting, may not one day be his own." combined the truth of the historian with the genius (Immense applause.) of the poet, and the vigorous classical taste of his In 1823, Mr. Moore published « The Loves of the own country with the fervid imagination of the East. Angels," of which two French translations soon after I propose the health of Mr. Thomas Moore.” appeared in Paris. While Mr. Moore was compos

The health was then received with all the honours; ing this poem, Lord Byron, who then resided in upon which Mr. Moore rose and said :

Italy, was, by a singular coincidence, writing a similar “I feel highly flattered by the compliment now poem, with the title of “ Heaven and Earth,” both of paid me, although there are others who might more them having taken the subject from the second verse justly have laid claim to it-I allude to the translator of the 6th chapter of Genesis : “ And it came to pass, of Oberon (Mr. Sotheby,) whose genius instructed, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that enlightened, and delighted the world, long ere a lay they were fair; and they took them wives of all of mine appeared before the public. I cannot, how. which they chose.” ever, but feel myself highly honoured by the manner in The two poets presumed that the Sons of God were which my health has been received in such an assem- angels, which opinion is also entertained by some of bly as the present. The soldier is delighted with the the fathers of the Church. applanse of his companions in arms; the sailor loves We have already alluded to our author's, "Memoirs to hear the praises of those who have encountered the of Captain Rock," the celebrated “Rinaldo Rinalperils of the deep and of naval warfare ; so I cannot dini" of Ireland; or rather the designation adopted help feeling somewhat like a similar pleasure from by the “Rob Roys” of that unfortunately divided the approbation of those who have laboured with me country. Mr. Moore has since increased his reputain the same field. This is the highest honour which tion, as a prose writer, by his publication of the Life hey can offer, or I can receive. As to the Honoura-Jof the late Right Honourable Richard Brinsley Sherisle Baronet who has proposed my health in so flat- dan, which, from the superior sources of information kering a manner, I feel that much of what he has said at his command, is, in a literary point of view at least, may arise from the influence of the sparkling glass a valuable acquisition to the lovers of biography. which has been circulating among us. (A laugh.) i We here annex a list of Mr. Moore's works, with do not by any means say that we have yet reached their respective dates of publication, as far as we have the state of double vision (a laugh,) but it is well been able to verify them. kaown that objects seen through a glass appear meg.

The Odes of Anacreon, translated into English

« ForrigeFortsæt »