Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

pursued. It has been objected, that at the time
Moore made this reluctant cession, the Memoirs were,
strictly speaking, the property of Mr. Murray, and
that Moore had consequently no claim to merit in
making the sacrifice; the rather, as he foresaw that a
round sum might hereafter be gained by his becom-
ing Lord Byron's biographer, on a new footing.
The truth is that, by the negligence of the draughts-
man or the attorney, the clause providing for the
redemption of the MSS. by Moore was not inserted
in the body of the deed, and thus the property
formally remained with the bookseller. But nobody
was cognisant of this fact till after the deed was
virtually cancelled by the destruction of the Memoirs;
so that Moore's proceeding is entitled to whatever
credit may be thought to attach to his resigning his
share in them. At the same time, Mr. Murray must
be held to have acted with perfect good faith, and
strictly business-like correctness, throughout the
affair.”
A contemporary remarks on Moore's cupidity in
his dealings, and on this feature of his character a
brief commentary seems called for. “The warmest
admirer of Moore's talents, we apprehend, cannot
dissemble from himself that the main business of his
life was to “keep the wolf from the door.” The
* There occurs at page 345 of vol. iii. the following passage, which
is worth quoting in reference to the foregoing transaction :-
“April, 1822. Ought to have mentioned that soon after my arrival
I spoke to Murray upon the subject of Lord B.'s Memoirs ; of my wish
to redeem them, and cancel the deed of sale, which Murray acceded to
with the best grace imaginable. Accordingly there is an agreement
making out, by which I become his debtor for 2000 guineas, leaving the

th: Will oft

MSS. in his hands as a security, till I am able to pay it . . . . . I know I shall feel the happier when rid of the bargain.”

[ocr errors]

steady eye which he kept upon every transaction
connected with literary profit, it would be distasteful
to observe, unless we bore in mind the anxieties
which he habitually endured respecting his daily
subsistence. One cannot deny that he read but to
reproduce—that he listened but to borrow—that he
caught at “tunes' to work up into “melodies'—that
he sang in drawing-rooms to give circulation to his
wares. Nay, he even ransacks his Bible, in church,
for dramatic subjects, to weave into musical expres-
sion; (finding one too, in Jeremiah, of all authors!)
in short, the fact is clear that Moore's thoughts
mainly alternated between his amusements and the
shop.”
But the public ought by this time to have learnt
(if it ever cared to learn anything except what suited
its convenience), that the greater portion of the labours
of literary men, even some of the highest productions
of Genius, have been extorted from their authors by
the pressure of necessity.
It would appear invidious to run over the long
catalogue of gifted writers from whose pen and brain
little would ever have descended to us but for the
temptation offered by money gains; large or small as
the case might be. The class of men who are
mentally qualified to produce, are commonly more
disposed to enjoy than to work, and hence it is that,
with a few remarkable exceptions, we owe the great
mass of our literature to the necessitous student.
Even our greatest poet of the century, Lord Byron,
confessed that but for the sake of gaining money he
should be too lazy to write poetry requiring effort.
No, the rare endowments which are fitted to contribute

to the delight of our fellow men are seldom brought forward by any inducements except those of profit; nor, in fact, will their possessors be persuaded to go through the severe probation needed in order to shine in any sphere of art, if blessed with fortune and the means of living at ease.

The following extracts will afford a sample of the familiar conversation of Bowood, where Moore was now continually a guest:—

“1824. Oct. 23rd. Dined at Bowood: company, Grosetts and Clutterbucks, Mrs. Clutterbuck looking very pretty. Clutterbuck's story of the old lady (his aunt) excellent. Being very nervous, she told Sir W. Farquhar she thought Bath would do her good. ‘It’s very odd,’ says Sir W., “but that's the very thing I was going to recommend to you. I will write the particulars of your case to a very clever man there, in whose hands you will be well taken care of.” The lady, furnished with the letter, sets off, and on arriving at Newbury, feeling, as usual, very nervous, she said to her confidant, “Long as Sir Walter has attended me, he has never explained to me what ails me. I have a great mind to open his letter and see what he has stated of my case to the Bath physician.” In vain her friend represented to her the breach of confidence this would be. She opened the letter, and read, ‘Dear Davis, keep the old lady three weeks, and send her back again.”

“1825. Jan. 3rd. Walked over to Bowood: company, Mackintosh and his daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Smith and Lewson Smith. e - © e. e. A good deal of conversation about Burke in the evening. Mentioned his address to the British colonists in North America. “Armed as you are, we embrace you as our friends and as our brothers, by the best and dearest ties of relation.” The tone of the other parts, however, is, I find, moderate enough. Burke was of opinion that Hume, if he had been alive, would have taken the side of the French Revolution. Dugald Stewart thinks the same. The grand part of Burke's life was between 1772 and the end of the American war; afterwards presumed upon his fame and let his imagination run away with him. Lord Charlemont said that Burke was a Whig upon Tory principles. Fox said it was lucky that Burke and Windham took the side against the French Revolution, as they would have got hanged on the other. Windham's speech on Curwen's motion for Reform—an ingenious defence of parliamentary corruption—like the pleading of a sophist. Burke gave the substance of the India Bill, and Pigot drew it up.”

“1833. Feb. 6th. An excellent mot of somebody to Fontenelle, on the latter saying that he flattered himself he had a good heart, ‘Yes, my dear Fontenelle, you have as good a heart as can be made out of brains.”

“In talking with Hallam afterwards, I put it to him why it was that this short way of expressing truths did not do with the world, often as it had been tried, even Rochefoucauld being kept alive chiefly by his ill-nature P There was in this one saying to Fontenelle all that I myself had expended many pages on in my Life of Byron, endeavouring to bring it out clearly; namely, the great difference there is between that sort of sensibility which is lighted up in the heads and imagination of men of genius, and the genuine natural sensibility whose seat is in the heart. Even now in thus explaining my meaning, how many superfluous words have I made use of P Talking of the Brahmins being such good chess-players (nobody, it seems, can stand before them at the game), Mrs. Hastings' naïveté was mentioned, in saying, “Well, people talk a good deal about the Brahmins playing well, but I assure you Mr. Hastings, who is very fond of chess, constantly plays those who come to the Government House, and always beats them.’”

For three editions of the Epicurean (which first came out in 1827), Messrs. Longman, we find, credited the author 700l. In 1828 Mr. Murray finally concludes a bargain with him to write a Life of Lord Byron, for which he is to receive 4000 guineas. Moore begins this in February, after having paid a visit to Newstead Abbey, and to Colwich, the residence of Mrs. Musters (formerly Miss Chaworth), with whom he conversed respecting Byron, as he has related in the Life. The usual gaddings, excursions, and pleasure-hunting characterise these years, the record of which is, however, interspersed with amusing notes of conversations, held chiefly at Holland House and Bowood; often valuable, though brief, from the light they shed upon transactions regarding which public channels of information have been of necessity imperfect ones. Many little touches reveal the state of political parties, too, in a way no out-of-doors organ could possibly do. The ill-assorted combinations of 1826-27-28, which succeeded on the break-up of Tory ascendancy, are curiously commented upon; and some good stories also find a place in the Diary. The sixth volume opens with 1829, and the death of his amiable daughter Anastasia, which plunged both her fond parents into deep affliction. The notices of the Life of Byron came out in the following year, after which Moore set to work to collect materials for that of Lord Edward Fitzgerald; in fact, he seems to have been more than commonly industrious about this time. He and his wife made a journey to Ireland in August, mainly on this errand, but also to visit Moore's mother once more. At a great meeting of from two to three thousand people, Moore being induced to make a speech on the subject of the late French Revolution of “the three days” (Bessy present among the auditors), it proved one of the happiest efforts in oratory that he ever essayed. “From this on to the end my display was most successful, and the consciousness that every word told on my auditory, reacted upon me with a degree of excitement which made me feel capable of anything. The shouts, the applause, the waving of hats, &c., after I had finished, lasted for some minutes. I heard Sheil, too, as I concluded, Say, with much warmth, “he is a most beautiful speaker!’” (Wol. vi. p. 140.) The enthusiasm felt for Moore by his countrymen is, indeed, universal, and proclaimed; and many of his admirers endeavoured to persuade him to try for a seat in Parliament for some Irish constituency. This temptation, which is renewed after his return to Sloperton, he steadily resists (although his inclination would have strongly urged him to accept the offer), on the ground of his utter want of fortune.

[graphic]
« AnteriorContinuar »