« AnteriorContinuar »
familiar chat, directing the greater portion of his remarks exclusively to him, and exhibiting the most gracious interest in all that concerned his guest. Amongst other points, the prince, assuming that his illustrious visitor must be of high descent, questioned him respecting the particular family to which he belonged, naming in turn several ancient houses in Ireland, begging to know whether he was not allied to one of them. To each of these inquiries the poet, at first, simply replied in the negative. The prince, whose strong prepossession that "gentle blood" flowed in his accomplished visitor's veins, made him in effect less polite than he was wont to be, reiterated his question, turning from one point to another, in the hope of hitting his mark, thus creating, unintentionally, the curiosity of all present towards the questioned party. All at once it occurred to his royal highness that his guest must, as he told him, be the son of a certain Mr. Moore (a man of large fortune and distinguished birth) of - Thus pressed, the poet put an end to his royal host's persevering inquiry, and with admirable and magnanimous simplicity replied to the last suggestion “No, sir, I have not the honour of being descended from any of the distinguished families you have named-I am, sir, the son of one of the honestest tradesmen in all Dublin."
The royal questioner felt rebuked-possessing too inherent a sense of politeness not to feel that he had, under a strong prepossession, been unwittingly guilty of undue pertinacity, while it was evident to all present that it gave fresh occasion to him to admire the mind and natural nobility of his guest, to
whose talents no birth, however high, could give additional lustre.
Moore was always very sensitive on points of honour. We have mentioned in an early part of this volume his duel with Jeffrey, of which, through a circumstance of which Moore knew nothing, so much sport was made. The following account by Moore of his introduction to Byron, a circumstance which arost from Moore's keen sensibility, displays so much honourable feeling on the part of both, that we make no apology for presenting it to the reader without curtailment.
“It was at this period that I first had the happiness of seeing and becoming acquainted with Lord Byron. The correspondence in which our acquaintance originated is, in a high degree, illustrative of the frank manliness of his character, and, as it was begun on my side, some egotism must be tolerated in the detail which I have to give of the circumstances that led to it. So far back
year 1806, on the occasion of a meeting which took place at Chalk Farm between Mr. Jeffrey and myself, a good deal of ridicule and raillery, founded on a false representation of what occurred before the magistrates at Bow-street, appeared in almost all th. public prints. In consequence of this, I was induced to address a letter to the editor of one of the journals, contradicting the falsehood that had been circulated, and stating briefly the real circumstances of the case. For some time, my letter seemed to produce the intended effect-but, unluckily, the original story was too tempting a theme for humour and sarcasm to be so easily superseded by mere matter of fact. Accordingly, after a little time,
whenever the subject was publicly alluded to, more especially by those who were at all willing to wound,' the old falsehood was, for the sake of its ready sting, revived.
“In the year 1809, on the first appearance of English Bards and Scotch Reviewers,' I found the author, who was generally understood to be Lord Byron, not only jesting on this subject-and with sufficiently provoking pleasantry and cleverness in his verse, but giving, also, in the more responsible form of a note, an outline of the transaction in accordance with the original misreport, and, therefore, in direct contradiction to my public statement. Still, as the satire was anonymous and unacknowledged, I did not feel that I was in any way called upon to notice it, and therefore dismissed the matter entirely from
mind. In the summer of the same year appeared the second edition of the work, with Lord Byron's name prefixed to it. I was at that time in Ireland, and but little in the way of literary society; and it so happened that some months passed away before the appearance of this new edition was known to me. Immediately on being apprised of it—the offence now assuming a different form, I addressed the following letter to Lord Byron, and, transmitting it to a friend in London, requested that he would have it delivered into his lordship’s hands.
66 Dublin, January 1st, 1810. 6. MY LORD,—Having just seen the name of “Lord Byron
prefixed to a work entitled “ lish Bards and Scotch Reviewers,” in which, as it appears to me, the lie is given to a public statement
of mino respecting an affair with Mr. Jeffrey some years since, I beg you will have the goodness to inform me whether I may consider your lordship as the author of this publication.
"• I shall not, I fear, be able to return to London for a week or two; but, in the meantime, I trust your lordship will not deny me the satisfaction of knowing whether you avow the insult contained in the passage alluded to.
«* It is needless to suggest to your lordship the propriety of keeping our correspondence secret.
"I have honour to be your lordship's very humble servant,
THOMAS MOORE. « • 22, Molesworth-street.'
“In the course of a week, the friend to whom I intrusted this letter wrote to inform me that Lord Byron had, as he learned on inquiry of his publisher, gone abroad immediately on the publication of his second edition, but that my letter had been placed in the hands of a gentleman, named Hodgson, who had undertaken to forward it carefully to his lordship.
“Though the latter step was not exactly what I could have wished, I thought it as well, on the whole, to let my letter take its chance, and again postponed all consideration of the matter.
“During the interval of a year and a half which elapsed before Lord Byron's return, I had taken upon myself obligations both as husband and father, which make most menand especially those who have nothing to bequeath--less willing to expose themselves unnecessarily to danger. On: hearing, therefore, of the arrival of the noble traveller from
Greece, though still thinking it due to myself to follow up my first request of an explanation, I resolved, in prosecuting that object, to adopt such a tone of conciliation as should not only prove my sincere desire of a pacific result, but show the entire freedom from any angry or resentful feeling with which I took the step. The death of Lord Byron's mother delayed my purpose. after that event as was consistent with decorum, I addressed a letter to Lord Byron, in which, referring to my former communication, and expressing some doubt as to its ever having reached him, I restated, in pretty nearly the same words, the nature of the insult, which, as it appeared to me, the passage in his book tended to convey.
• It is now useless,' I continued to speak of the steps with which it was my intention to follow up that letter. The time which has elapsed since then, though it has done
neither the injury nor the feeling of it, has in many respects materially altered my situation; and the only object which I have now in writing to your lordship is to preserve some consistency with that former letter, and to prove to you that the injured feeling still exists, however circumstances may compel me to be deaf to its dictates at present. When I say injured feeling, let me assure your lordship that there is not a single vindictive sentiment in my mind towards
I but to express that uneasiness, under (what I consider to be a charge of falsehood, which must haunt a man of any feeling to his grave, unless the insult be retracted or atoned for, and which, if I did not feel, I should, indeed, deserve far worse than your lordship’s satire could inflict upon me.' In conclu