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insignificance. His countenance is plain, but the expression so very animated, especially in speaking or singing, that it is far more interesting than the finest features could have rendered it.
“I was aware that Byron had often spoken, both in private society and in his Journal, of Moore and myself, in the same breath, and with the same sort of regard; so I was curious to see what there could be in common betwixt us, Moore having lived so much in the gay world, I in the country, and with people of business, and sometimes with politicians; Moore a scholar, I none; he a musician and artist, I without the knowledge of a note; he a democrat, I an aristocrat; with many other points of difference- besides his being an Irishman, I a Scotchman, and both tolerably national. Yet there is a point of resemblance, and a strong one. We are both good-humoured fellows, who rather seek to enjoy what is going forward, than to maintain our dignity as lions; and we have both seen the world too widely and too well not to contemn in our souls the imaginary consequences of literary people, who walk with their noses in the air, and remind me always of the fellow whom Johnson met in an ale-house, and, who called himself the great Twalmly, inventor of the flood-gate iron for smoothing linen.' He also enjoys the mot pour rire, and so do I. It was a pity that nothing save the total destruction of Byron's Memoirs would satisfy his executors. But there was a reason-Premat nox alta. It would be a delightful addition to life, if T. M. had a cottage within two miles of one. We went to the theatre together and the house being luckily a good ono, received T. M. with rapture. I could have hugged
them, for it paid back the debt of the kind reception I met with in Ireland.”
THE EPICUREAN. In 1827 Moore published the "Epicurean," which though written in prose has always taken its place amongst his poetical works. As a model of clear and harmonious language the Epicurean has few rivals. It is a moral and religious story. The hero is an Athenian, a follower of the doctrines of Epi
Discontented with Athens, and anxious to discover the secret of immortality, which he expected he would find in Egypt, he proceeds to that country about the year 250 A.D. In Egypt he becomes enamoured of a young priestess, Alethe, who is secretly a Christian. They escape from the scene of the Egyptian mysteries, and reach the hermitage of a Christian recluse. The monk preaches Christianity to the Epicurean, who becomes a Christian. A decree against Christians is pronounced by the Roman Emperor, and the recluse and the priestess are seized; the recluse is executed and the priestess sentenced, but the Egyptian high-priest, who is enraged at her not being put to death at once, ties a chaplet of poisoned berries round her head, and she dies in a few hours.
The Epicurean is not without some faults, both in plot and style, but its beauties are numerous. A few extracts will illustrate the style of the work.
“The rising of the moon, slow and majestic, as if conscious of the honours that awaited her upon earth, was welcomed with a loud acclaim from every eminence, where multitudes stood watching for her first light. And seldom had that light risen upon a more beautiful scene. The city of Memphis, that had borne away from Thebes the crown of supremacy, and worn it undisputed through ages, now, softened by the mild moonlight that harmonised with her decline, shone forth among her lakes, her pyramids, and her shrines, like one of those dreams of human glory that must, ere long, pass away. Even already, ruin was visible around her. The sands of the Lybian desert were gaining upon her like a sea; and there, among solitary columns and sphinxes, already half sunk from sight, Time seemed to stand waiting, till all that now flourished around him should fall beneath his desolating hand like the rest.
“On the waters all was gaiety and life. As far as eye could reach, the light of innumerable boats was seen studding like rubies the surface of the stream, Vessels of every kind, from the light coracle, built for shooting down the cataracts, to the large yacht that glides slowly to the sound of flutes, all were afloat for this sacred festival, filled with crowds of the young and gay, not only from Memphis and Babylon, but from cities still farther removed from the festal scene.
“ As I approached the island, I could see glittering through the trees on the bank, the lamps of the pilgrims hastening to the ceremony. Landing in the direction which those lights pointed out, I soon joined the crowd, and passing through a long alley of sphinxes, whose sparkling marble gleamed out from the dark sycamores around them, reached in a short time the grand vestibule of the temple, where I found the ceremonies of the evening already commenced.
“In this vast hall, which was surrounded by a double range of columns, and lay open overhead to the stars of heaven, I saw a group of
maidens moving in a sort of measured step, between walk and dance, round a small shrine, upon which stood one of those sacred birds, that, on account of the variegated colour of their wings are dedicated to. the worship of the moon. The vestibule was dimly lighted, there being but one lamp of naphtha hung on each of the great pillars that encircled it. But, having taken my station beside one of those pillars, I had a clear view of the young dancers as in succession they passed me.
“The drapery of all was as white as snow; and each wore loosely, beneath the bosom, a dark blue zone or bandelet, studded, like the skies at midnight, with small silver stars. Through their dark locks were wreathed the white lilies of the Nile, that sacred flower being accounted no less welcome to the moon than the golden blossoms of the beanflower are known to be to the sun. As they passed under the lamps, a gleam of light flashed from their bosoms, which I could perceive was the reflection of a small mirror, that, in the manner of the women of the East, each of the dancers wore beneath her left shoulder.
6 There was no music to regulate their steps; but as they gracefully went round the bird on the shrine, some to the beat of the castanet, some to the shrill ring of the sistrum, which they held uplifted in the attitude of their own divine Isis, continued harmoniously to time the cadence of their
feet; while others, at every step, shook a small chain of silver, whose sound mingling with those of the castanets and sistrums, produced a wild but not unpleasing harmony.
“What a power is there in innocence! whose very helplessness is its safeguard—in whose presence even Passion himself stands abashed and turns worshipper at the very altar which he came to despoil. She, who but a short hour before, had presented herself to my imagination as something I could have risked immortality to win-she whom gladly, from the floor of her own lighted temple, in the
very face of its proud ministers, I would have borne away in triumph, and dared all punishments, divine and human, to make her mine—that very creature was now before me, as if thrown by fate itself into my power, standing there beautiful and alone, with nothing but her innocence for her guard. Yet, no, so touching was the purity of the whole scene, so calm and august the protection which the dead extended over the living, that every earthly feeling was forgotton as I gazed, and love itself became exalted into reverence.
“ At the same moment, a light of the most delicious softness filled the whole air ; music, such as is heard in dreams, came floating at a distance ; and as my eyes gradually recovered their power of vision, & scene of glory was revealed to them, almost too bright for imagination, and yet living and real. As far as the light could reach, enchanting gardens were seen, opening away through long tracts of light and verdure, and sparkling every