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THOMAS MOORE, ESQ.
COMPRISING ANECDOTES OF ANCIENT MINSTRELSY, ILLUS
TRATIVE OF THE « IRISH MELODIES.»
BY J. W. LAKE.
NOTWITHSTANDING the number of literary men to whom Ireland has given birth, there is very little connected with their names which conveys to us any thing of a national association; for the land of their nativity scarcely enjoys a single ray of that brilliant miqd, which sheds its intellectual brightness over the sister country. Congreve.was an apostate, and Swift only by accident a patriot; whilst Goldsmith was weak enough to affect an air of contempt for a people whose accent was indelibly stamped on his tongue. We could protract the list of her ungrateful and thoughtless « men of mind » even to our own day; but the task would be invidious, and we gladly turn from it to one who forms a splendid exception-one who is not ashamed of Ireland, and of whom Ireland is justly proud.
Land of the Muse! in glory's lay,
In history's leaf thy name shall soar,
The reign of tyranny is o'er;
Immortal names have honour'd thee
A Sheridan, a Wellesley;
The spirit bright of Liberty,
Mr Moore is every way an Irishman, in heart, in feelings, and in principles. For his country he has done more than any man living: he has associated her name, and her attributes, with poetry and music, neither of which can ever die, while taste, patriotisın, and literature subsist in the world; and whilst these survive, Ireland will form the theme of Beauty's song, and Irish music the charm of every cultivated mind. But, all extrinsic circumstances apart, there is in the melodies of Mr Moore a sacred fire, which conveys its vividness to the soul of his readers; and they must be made of sterner stuff than the ordinary race of men, if their bosoms do not glow with liberal and patriotic enthusiasm, while they peruse the harmonious creations of a poet who has clothed the wild and eccentric airs of his country in words that burn, and sentiments that find an echo in every generous breast.
Had Mr Moore done no more than this, he would be entitled to the gratitude of his countrymen; but his genius, like his own Peri, seems never pleased, but while hovering over the region he loves; or if it makes a short excursion, it is only in the hope of securing some advantage that may accelerate the removal of those disqualifications, which are supposed to exclude happiness from the limits of his country. In « Lalla Rookh » he has given his fire-worshippers the wrongs and feelings of Irishmen; while, in the « Memoirs of Captain Rock,» he has accomplished a most difficult task-written a history of Ireland that has been read.
On such grounds we may well claim for Mr Moore what he deserves—the crown of patriotism; but it is not on this head alone he is entitled to our praise. As a poet, since the
lamented death of Byron, he stands almost without a competitor; and as a prose-writer, he is highly respectable.
Mr Moore is the only son of the late Mr Garret Moore, formerly a respectable tradesman in Dublin, where our poet was born on the 28th of May, 1780. He has two sisters; and his infantine days seem to have left the most agreeable impressions on his memory. In an epistle to his eldest sister, dated November, 1803, and written from Norfolk in Virginia, he retraces with delight their childhood, and describes the endearments of home, with a sensibility as exquisite as that which breathes through the lines of Cowper on receiving his mother's picture.
He acquired the rudiments of an excellent education under the care of the late Mr Samuel Whyte, of Graftonstreet, Dublin, a gentleman extensively known and respected as the early tutor of Sheridan. He evinced such talent in early life, as determined his father to give him the advantages of a superior education, and at the early age of fourteen, he was entered a student of Trinity College, Dublin.
Mr Moore was greatly distinguished while at the University, by an enthusiastic attachment to the liberty and independence of his country, which he more than once publicly asserted with uncommon energy and eloquence, and he was equally admired for the splendour of his classical attainments, and the sociability of his disposition. On the 19th November, 1799, Mr Moore entered himself a member of the honourable Society of the Middle Temple, and in the course of the year 1800, before he had completed the 20th year of his age, he published his translation of the « Odes of Anacreon » into English verse with notes, from whence, in the vocabulary of fashion, he has ever since been designated by the appellation of Anacreon Moore, So early as his twelfth year
appears to have meditated on executing this performance, which, if not a close version, must be confessed to be a fascinating one of this favourite bard. The work is introduced by a
Greek ode from the pen of the Translator, and is dedicated, with permission, to his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, now George the Fourth. When Mr Moore first came to London, his youthful appearance was such, that being at a large dinner-party, and getting up to escort the ladies to the drawingroom, a French gentleman observed, « Ah! le petit bon homme qui s'en va!» Mr Moore's subsequent brilliant conversation, however, soon proved him to be, though little of stature, yet, like Gay, «in wit a man.» Assuming the appropriate name of Little, our author published, in 180), a, volume of original poems, chiefly amatory. Of the contents of this volume it is impossible to speak in terms of unqualified commendation. Several of the poems exhibit strong marks of genius: they were the productions of an age, when the passions very often give a colouring too warm to the imagination, which may in some degree palliate, if it cannot excuse, that air of lubricity which pervades too many of them. In the same year, his « Philosophy of Pleasure » was advertised, but was never published. Mr Moore's diffidence of his poetical talents induced him to adopt, and with reluctance to reject, as a motto for this work, the quotation from Horace,
Primum ego me illorum, quibus dederim esse poetis,
and at a later period, when his reputation was fully established, he spoke of himself with his wonted modesty : « Whatever fame he might have acquired, he attributed principally to the verses which he had adapted to the delicious strains of Irish melody. His verses, in themselves, could boast of but little merit, but, like flies preserved in amber, they were esteemed in consequence of the precious material by which they were surrounded.
Mr Sheridan, in speaking of the subject of this memoir, said, « That there was no man who put so much of his heart