Imágenes de páginas

Of “adventures” there are, properly speaking, none in the whole six volumes; Moore's movements being chiefly from Devizes to Bath, from Bath to Farley, from Farley to Laycock, from Laycock to Bowood, and so on, much after the style of Major Sturgeon's campaigns. But although his person revolved in a limited orbit, his mental activity, and frequent unreserved commerce with the class in whose hands the government of the nation was now vested, caused him to feel no want of more enlarged experience of the world. Indeed the privilege which he enjoyed, of intimate and habitual intercourse with the Marquis of Lansdowne, was of itself an equivalent, or more than an equivalent, for a wide range of ordinary social advantages.

Moore's political feelings partook all through life of the early impressions derived from his boyish connexion with certain friends who were forward in the organization of Irish resistance to the Government in 1795-96. Though a mere youth, his ardent attachment to Ireland led him to yield the fullest sympathy to those efforts, and from that period downwards he never spoke or wrote about his native country save in a strain of mournful resentment. He was himself, whilst a college student, subjected to an examination before the formidable Chancellor Fitzgibbon, and displayed a self-possession, we might even say an heroic fidelity to his associates, highly praiseworthy in one so young. The scene is related in the first vol. of the present publication, and repeated by Moore in the preface to his Works in ten vols. 1840. His Letters of Captain Rock likewise displayed his views and feelings on Irish politics. But although he held opinions of a strongly democratic cast, he seems to have been less cordial in his wishes for reform in Parliament in 1831-32 than might have been expected. This is to be ascribed partly, as he confesses, to his having reached the age of fifty before the Reform movement became effectual, and partly to his comparatively slender interest in English politics, with which he rarely meddled, whilst with Irish affairs he maintained a constant sympathy. (See his Letter to Electors of Limerick, vol. iv. p. 305.) The “wrongs of Ireland” lay at the bottom of his heart, and tinged his views on most public questions. It is honourable both to himself and to his noble associates, that Moore's extreme opinions, though openly maintained and ably defended, never interrupted the friendly relations in which he lived with the leading statesmen of the Liberal party. His out-spoken objections to the course pursued by the Whig Government, after 1831, towards Ireland, would infallibly have offended any minister but the nobleman who bore him a friendship so warm as to be proof against the shocks of dissent when coming from his privileged neighbour.


A recent newspaper criticism has laboured to fasten upon Moore the imputation of having “dangled upon the great;”—one more groundless could scarcely be adduced. “The great” ran after Moore, not he after the great. If there be one fact more abundantly attested than another by the Diary it is this. And among the rare instincts which his nature revealed was the perception of that nice medium between familiarity and humility of demeanour, which he so admirably hit in his intercourse with the nobility of both sexes. He was treated like a spoiled child; yet he conducted himself like a well-bred man. He might assuredly feel a pride in reflecting that he could reckon among his intimate friends the names of Walter Scott, Samuel Rogers, Crabbe, Bowles, Sydney Smith, Lord Byron, Francis Jeffrey, Lord Holland, Luttrell, Lord John Russell, Lord and Lady Lansdowne, with those of other eminent and estimable persons of both sexes; and he did feel it. But no one, we venture to affirm, could charge Moore with presuming upon the favour with which they regarded him. What he seems to be most severely reproached with is, having been inwardly elated, flattered,—made happy, in short, by it. On this manner of construing the revelations comprised in these volumes, we will, even at the risk of appearing sermonic and tedious, venture to offer some remarks. The general reader of memoirs seems to require before all things, the gratification of his curiosity. But one would think that, this primary object being attained, the next would be to acquire an accurate knowledge of the inward mind and thoughts of the author, particularly if he be a person of eminent and renowned character; and so it is in a measure, for everybody takes pleasure in diving into the soul of genius, and prying into the laboratory of a poet's fancy. If, however, the writer record for posthumous publication feelings which he would or ought to have dissembled during life, such is the inveterate, the allpuissant influence of conventional habits, that, instead of thanking him for his candour and veracity, the public positively blame him for not disguising his genuine emotions, for not counterfeiting to posterity indifference both to high reputation and to homage from his fellow-creatures. The very quality which is understood to bestowa value on autobiography —viz., the presenting the writer's real mind and thoughts to the reader, is lost sight of in the abhorrence which the public entertain for what they term “ridiculous personal vanity s” They shrink from everything which is not disguised and “dressed up,” —from the real mind, as from the naked body. The public have, indeed, so long and peremptorily prohibited all external signs of self-satisfaction, or self-love, that at length they have come to believe in the Latin apophthegm, that what does not appear, does not exist; and thus, when an idol is caught in the fact, through his private closet avowals, they regard him as a rare instance of depraved morals, and fall to abusing him as such. For in our artificial society, everything is made to give way to conventional forms and usages, and neither mind nor matter dare wander beyond the prescribed despotic circle. To be sure, if a writer of autobiography has died in want and misery, if his vanity have been never so misplaced, offensive, or egregious, we can afford to be more indulgent; the mortification and humiliation he has endured have the effect of neutralizing the ascetic element within us, and we feel comforted, as it were, by the spectacle of expiatory justice. Butlet not the successful or happy man lift the veil, and reveal the pleasure with which a life of labour and poverty was sweetened when he was praised, flattered, and loved by his contemporaries. In vain would his apologists plead that vanity, under profuse homage, is at once natural, just, and innocuous. Our excellent commu


nity seldom travel so far as the domain of ethics for
their standard of judgment. They take a shorter cut;
what they dislike is odious and reprehensible, and the
converse, and from this there is no appeal.
A great deal has been said, also, respecting Moore's
neglect of his domestic hearth; so much, indeed, that
it would be unbecoming, in presenting even this
slender portraiture of the man, to pass over such a
feature in silence. He certainly enjoyed mingling
with his friends and acquaintance when his work was
done—sometimes, indeed, when it was not done—and
it is not disguised in the pages before us that Mrs.
Moore felt his frequent absences from home. On the
other hand, it should be borne in mind that, whereas
cerebral labour, especially that of the inventive
faculty, exhausts the individual more than any other
occupation, so it is of the last importance to him to
seek occasional, even frequent, renovation by some
external agency. The spirit-stirring action of
pleasant and distinguished society, the expansion of
his peculiarly happy talent for conversation, the ex-
ercise of his almost magical gift of touching the feel-
ings by musical expression*—all these recreated the
man, and replenished the springs of those powers by
means of which the poor poet was expected to produce
his page of the morrow. The physician, the lawyer,
the minister, the sharebroker, the soldier, and others,
necessarily pass their lives from home, a return to

* No person was ever gifted with a more perfect organization for music than the deceased Irish bard. Had he received a thoroughly sound musical education, it is difficult to say whether he might not have produced some great composition as gorgeous in melody and harmony as the Eastern imagery of his Lalla Rookh-ELLA, Musical Sketches, 1853. -

« AnteriorContinuar »