Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

much censured favourite of all ranks, that he enjoyed his popularity to the last; only ceasing to receive the cordial attentions of his friends when the sad visitation of physical and mental infirmity rendered it imperative on him to renounce all commerce with Society.

H. G.

LoNDoN, October, 1854.

MEMOIRS OF MOORE.

Memoirs, Journal, and Correspondence of Thomas Moore. Edited by the Right Honourable Lord JoHN RUSSELL, M.P. Wols. I. to WI. 8vo. London: 1853.

To those who, like ourselves, are verging upon their “grand climacteric” (all the world knows we were born in 1802), these volumes cannot fail to afford many an hour of delightful and interesting reading. We confess to having been absorbed in the retrospective details of a period which, in a social and literary point of view, had so much to distinguish it; details sketched by one who floated on the tide of pleasurable existence in both these forms, and whose capacity for enjoyment seems to have kept pace with his opportunities. Like many men of ardent sensibility, Thomas Moore had a vivid conception of the value of posthumous celebrity. To be able to interest his fellow men and women in his personal feelings, in his pleasures and pains, his triumphs and successes, was with Moore an object of undisguised solicitude; and to this we are indebted, in great part, though not entirely, for a minute record of his almost daily life, his innermost thoughts, and his relations with society during the meridian of his existence. If it be objected—as, indeed, we have already heard it objected—to this publication, that it is little else than “a tissue of egoistical, vain, and trivial passages in the life of an improvident, selfish adventurer,” the answer would be, that all autobiography, to be worth reading at all, must be egoistical and vain; because nobody would take so much trouble except for the sake of being allowed to talk of themselves all through the work, and to dwell, ad libitum, upon their own merits and achievements. The use of the personal pronoun has long been, by a very natural instinct of self-protection, restricted within narrow limits by the higher classes of society; hence poor Moore could not talk of his own glory and successes whilst alive, and it was a hard case, considering how much he had to be vain of. To fly to his closet, and record the flattering incidents of the day, was his best and most obvious resource. By thus “entering up” the tributes as they poured in, little and great, Moore indemnified himself, by anticipation, for the suppression of all signs of present pride and satisfaction. And since we have discovered incontrovertible evidence in these volumes of the prodigious amount of praise and flattery heaped upon his head, our wonder—recollecting how unaffectedly he bore his honours—becomes greater and greater as we read. Until the appearance of this publication, it had not, indeed, been fully present to us how extensively Moore was read and relished, nor how widely his reputation, whether as a poet, as a wit, a lyric composer, or, God save the mark! a sound political writer, had circulated, in Europe as well as in the British Isles. Yet it cannot be denied, with the proofs before us, that in each of these walks of composition, Thomas Moore was regarded with enthusiastic admiration by contemporaries, throughout the social scale, from the “man of letters” proper, “down to the Miss in her teens.” And as to personal successes, no one, surely, ever surpassed him. By his touching sentimental singing, he enchanted all who were susceptible to the charms of music; by his vivacity; sparkling conversation, and literary accomplishments, he captivated those of his own sex who prized convivial talents, whilst his more solid merits secured for him a place in the esteem and friendly regard of some of our most celebrated countrymen. Add to these sources of honourable gratification, the remarkable fact that Moore enjoyed, and deserved to enjoy, his own self-respect, and cherished his mental independence throughout all vicissitudes of life, and we have before us perhaps the amplest justification of human vanity which purely personal qualities can well furnish. A general outline of Thomas Moore's life will, we apprehend, be acceptable to most of our readers. Born in 1779, of decent, but obscure Irish parentage, in Dublin, he had the advantage of being the son of a clever, active-minded woman, who seems to have steadily kept in view the main purpose of forcing education upon the boy, as far as her slender means could serve. Moore disliked study, and would much rather have sought his fortune as an actor, or (what he would have liked still better) as a harlequin But Mrs. Moore compelled him, with her firm, yet affectionate authority, to acquire such an amount of learning as should qualify him to make his way in some one of the walks of educated labour. This purpose accomplished, by his having graduated at Trinity College, Dublin, young Moore quitted the parental roof, and at the age of nineteen dropped down into a humble lodging near Portman Square, with but a small sum of money in his pocket, and without the slightest plan for earning his present subsistence. He possessed scarcely any friends, and knew nobody of any mark in the world, but after a while contrived, by means of some letters of introduction he had brought from Dublin, to gain admission into a few families (chiefly Irish, however) where he could pass his evenings and occasionally dine. After getting himself admitted of the Middle Temple, he went back to Dublin for a space, but shortly returned to London (in 1799), with the double object of prosecuting his legal studies and of procuring subscriptions to his translation of the Odes of Anacreon ; the latter endeavour was, by the fortunate accident of Dr. Lawrence pronouncing a very favourable judgment upon the work, attended with unlooked-for success. At this period Moore makes the acquaintance of Lord Moira (also by letters of recommendation from Irish friends), who takes kind notice of him, and asks him to his country seat, Donington Park. With the Marquis of Lansdowne, too (father of the present peer), he becomes acquainted, by soliciting his subscription to the Anacreon, which Lord Lansdowne consents to give, and adds an invitation to young Moore to call upon him in London. The Anacreon comes out at length, with a brilliant list of patrons' names attached to it, and makes a decided “hit.” Moore becomes a “Lion,” is félé in fashionable circles, gets introduced to the Prince of Wales (to whom, by the way, the Anacreon was

« AnteriorContinuar »