« AnteriorContinuar »
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 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 (the 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 fêté in fashionable circles, gets introduced to the Prince of Wales (to whom, by the way, the · Anacreon' was dedicated, .by permission '), pays a visit at Donington Park, is so much liked there that it is with difficulty he can get away; and, in short, finds himself completely launched upon the great world. Here are extracts from letters addressed to his mother early in 1801, at the age of two-and-twenty:
MY DEAREST MOTHER,— You may imagine I do not want society here, when I tell you that last night I had six invitations. Everything goes on swimmingly with me. I dined with the Bishop of Meath on Friday last, and went to a party at Mrs. Crewe's in the evening. My songs have taken such a rage ! even surpassing what they did in Dublin. ....
There is not a night that I have not three parties on my string, but I take Hammersley's advice and send showers of apologies. The night before last, Lady Harrington sent her servant after me to two or three places, with a ticket for the “ Ancient Music,” which is the king's concert, and which is so select, that those who go to it ought to have been at court before. Lady H. got the ticket from one of the princesses, and the servant at last found me where I dined,' &c. &c.
.... 'Never was there any wight so idly busy as I am. Nothing but racketting; it is, indeed, too much, and I intend stealing at least a fortnight's seclusion, by leaving word at my door that I am gone into the country. I last night went to a little supper after the Opera, where the Prince and Mrs. Fitzherbert were; I was introduced to her. ....
I dine with Lord Moira to-morrow, and go in the evening with Lady Charlotte to an assembly at the Countess of Cork's. .....
• I assure you I am six feet high to-day, after discharging my debt of 701. yesterday, and I have still some copies on my hand to dispose of for myself. The new edition will soon be out,' &c. .....
“I was last night at a ball — everybody was there — two or three of the princes, the statholder, &c. &c. You may imagine the affa
bility of the Prince of Wales, when his address to me was, “How do “ you do, Moore ? I am glad to see you.” ....
I go on as usual; I am happy, careless, comical, - every thing I could wish : not very rich, nor yet quite poor; all I desire is that my dear ones at home may be as contented and easy in mind as I am.....
Such an extraordinary start into popularity and favour with the London world afforded the young poet of two-and-twenty a hopeful glance into a literary career, and he seems accordingly to have neglected the pursuit of Grim gribber' for the flowery paths of imaginative composition. In this mood he gladly. avails himself of Lord Moira's kind hospitality, and spends three or four weeks alone at Donington, storing his mind by assiduous reading, for which a fine library supplied ample resources. Strange to say, during this studious seclusion Moore appears to have had but slender longings after the excitement of the London salons : and evidences are thickly strewn throughout the pages of his Diary that a taste for rational and even simple occupations was not wanting when his friends would permit him its exercise.
Lord Moira was not long in procuring for his countryman, what was hailed by the latter as a piece of most gratifying good fortune, the appointment of Registrar of the Admiralty Court of Bermuda. In spite of the sneers with which this piece of preferment has been mentioned, as having been productive of more injury than benefit to the recipient, Moore himself never regarded it but with becoming gratitude towards his noble patron. He thus writes to his mother on learning the news of his appointment:
September 12. 1803. • MY DEAREST MOTHER,— I enclose you a note I received from Merry yesterday, by which you will perceive that every thing is in train for my departure. Nothing could be more lucky. ...
• Heaven smiles upon my project, and I see nothing in it now but hope and happiness. .....
*If I did not make a shilling by it, the new character it gives to my pursuits, the claim it affords me upon Government, the absence I shall have from all the frippery follies that would hang upon my career for ever in this country,-all these are objects invaluable in themselves, abstracted from the pecuniary. ....
My dear father should write to Carpenter, and thank him for the very friendly assistance he has given me; without that assistance, the breeze would be fair in vain for me,' &c. &c.
After a year's absence, chiefly at his post in the confessedly delicious island of Bermuda, but making besides an agreeable tour in the United States and in Canada, in his way to embark for England, Moore returned, to the undisguised joy of all his friends. He was allowed to appoint a deputy in his place at Bermuda, and began to turn his mind to bookmaking as a means of earning money. On Mr. Pitt's death a new political combination seemed to promise some advantage to Moore, and, in fact, Lord Moira did obtain the comfortable berth of Barrack Master in Dublin for the father, pending some suitable promotion in favour of the son. The latter, on the qui vive of expectation, writes to his friend, Miss Godfrey (July, 1806), • Lord Moira has told me that the commissionership intended
for me is to be in Ireland, and that if there are any such appointments, I am to have one of them.' Such are my plans, and such are my hopes. I wait but for the arrival of the 6 « Edinburgh Review," and then “a long farewell to all my «« greatness." London shall never see me act the farce of gentlemanship in it any more,' &c. &c.
The · Edinburgh Review' arrives, and contains, to Moore's infinite mortification, a somewhat contemptuous notice of his new production (Odes and Epistles).
Hence the well-known duel with Jeffrey; or, rather, the prelude to one, for the belligerent parties were interrupted by peace officers. And at this point of Moore's history there enters upon the scene one whose constant kindness, whose undeviating attachment, friendly counsel and assistance, must be counted among the most precious possessions of the poet throughout his life. We allude to Mr. Rogers, who stepped in to offer bail for Moore's appearance if called upon. However, the less that is added about this silly affair the better. The would-be combatants became firm friends within a year or two, and when Moore's unfortunate affair of the Bermuda defalcation fell out (in 1818), Jeffrey was among the first to tender his contribution in aid.
We gather from the letters' that Moore spent great part of the years 1807-8 at Donington Park, by permission of its usually absent lord, amusing himself, and working at the same time, on divers literary projects. “I read' (he says to Miss Godfrey in a letter dated March 1807) ‘much more than • I write, and think much more than either.' Again to his mother (April in this year):— The time Aies over me as swift
as if I was in the midst of dissipation, which is a tolerable • proof that I am armed for either field, for folly or for thought. • The family do not talk of coming till June, and if that be the • case, I shall not budge.
But few letters are to be found relating to the period from 1807 to 1811 inclusive *, which Moore seems to have distributed
* Two of these letters, of the year 1809, have recently been published by Mr. Croker, in which Moore asks his friend, the newly
between Donington Park, Dublin, and lodgings in London. We learn, however, by looking into his · Notices of the Life of • Lord Byron,' that it was in the autumn of the year 1811 that he formed the acquaintance of that distinguished genius. It arose out of a little epistolary skirmish between them about a supposed imputation upon Moore's veracity, which ended by an offer from the noble poet (having meanwhile explained’ it to the satisfaction of his correspondent) to meet him on amicable terms. It was at the dinner-table of Mr. Rogers that Byron and Moore first came together; the fourth member of the party being Thomas Campbell, who (as was, indeed, the case with the host himself) also enjoyed Lord Byron's company on that day for the first time.
This memorable introduction between Moore and Byron resulted in an intimacy and an attachment on both sides, which never lost its charm to the latest moment of Byron's existence. The rapidity with which their mutual friendship grew up was somewhat extraordinary, as Moore himself admits. But it is not so surprising when we recall the captivations of Moore's society on the one side, and the admiration Byron excited in the breast of Anacreon' on the other; opportunities of meeting were furnished in abundance, since they frequented the same circles, and were at this period both plunged in dissipation and folly; that is to say, in 1812, and again in the London season of 1813, wherein Lord Byron's fame first rose to its full height (on the appearance of Childe Harold'), and the London world pursued him with the most extravagant homage and adulation. Moore's Life of Byron tells us, indeed, more of himself at this stage of history than is revealed by the present publication, whilst Lord Byron's fondness for his friend's company is thus attested: • Moore, the epitome,' writes Byron to another friend, of all that is exquisite in personal or poetical • accomplishments.'*
appointed Secretary to the Admiralty, to assist him in arranging the sale of his Bermuda appointment to his deputy. The proposal is, of course, indefensible, and Mr. Croker very properly refused to afford any facility for an illegal transaction of this nature: but when we consider that the office was a sinecure, that the duties were performed by the deputy, and that the experience of Ireland before the Union must have rendered such arrangements familiar to Moore's mind, we cannot greatly wonder at his addressing this request to his countryman, then recently promoted to an English office. Moore's letters are written in December. Mr. Croker had been appointed in the previous October.
* Life of Byron, vol. ii. p. 95.
During one of Moore's Irish trips he formed part of that famed theatrical society which figured on the Kilkenny boards ; the male actors being amateurs, and the female ones mostly if not all professional, having at their head the star' of the hour, the celebrated Miss O'Neil. Moore acted well, especially in comedy, as we have been informed by one who was fortunate enough to witness those remarkable performances about the year 1810. Among other parts, his personation of Mungo,' in the agreeable opera of “The Padlock,' was, it is said, eminently happy.
Two sisters, both of them extremely attractive in person, as well as irreproachable in conduct, also formed a part of this
corps,' acting, singing, and ever and anon dancing, to the delight of their audience. With one of these beauties Moore fell desperately in love, and being regarded favourably in return by Miss Elizabeth Dyke, he a few months later united himself with her in marriage, without, it would seem, acquainting his parents with his intention. The ceremony took place at St. Martin's church in London in March 1811, and Mrs. Thomas Moore was introduced to her husband's London friends during the same spring. By these she was cordially received, although there was but one opinion among them as to the imprudence of the step in Moore's notoriously narrow circumstances.
Not to lose his privilege of using Donington library, the young couple established themselves in a small cottage at Kegworth, within a few miles of the park, Moore working continually in the library for many months. But towards the end of 1812 all hopes of advancement through the favour of Lord Moira, after many an anxious ebb and flow, finally vanished. That nobleman, whose affairs had become irremediably embarrassed, came to a compromise, as may be said, with his political principles. Not liking to throw them overboard, by joining a Government resolutely opposed to Catholic emancipation, he judged it consistent with his honour to accept at its hands the Governor-generalship of India, which he endeavoured to persuade his friends to regard as more a military than a civil appointment. On learning Lord Moira's acceptance of this splendid post, both Moore and his friends appear to have cherished an expectation that his Lordship would propose to take Moore with him to India in some capacity or another, whereby his fortunes might be materially improved. One can hardly comprehend how • friends' such as Miss Godfrey and Lady Donegal, for instance, or, indeed, how Moore himself, could have failed to perceive that Lord Moira, the avowed inti