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PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.
the saloons of fashion, that he wrote “pretty verses about Ireland,” but had no heart to feel for her wrongs. I have, therefore, drawn Moore as an Irishman, and have delighted to present to the reader those scathing passages in his writings in which he lashes with unsparing hand the misgovernment of his native land. I have also drawn MOORE as a Catholic, and this through no sectarian feeling, nor through any forgetfulness of the fact that the fame of the author of the “IRISH MELODIES” belongs to all Ireland, and is not the exclusive property of any portion of her sons. But with the same pride with which MOORE gloried in belonging to the faith of a Fenelon and a Bossuet, it may be allowed to an Irish Catholic to put forward the honest boast, that while still in the full and mature vigour of his quagment, and before his fine intellect was clouded by disease, MOORE produced one of the most learned and one of the most convincing works in the defence of the Catholic religion which our language possesses.
In a few pages towards the end of this volume, I have made an attempt to present such a summary as would convey a general estimate of MOORE'S abilities, and show how highly he was prized by the greatest literary men of his time.
And let it be remembered that MOORE was not only a sweet poet, but an erudite scholar, and that in every department of literature (the drama excepted), he shone as a conspicuous and brilliant
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.
luminary. It was the opinion of O'Connell that MOORE would have been an ornament to the senate. Some have doubted the correctness of this opinion because Moore's mind was so intensely poetical, but Shiel also was a gifted poet and yet he not only became a brilliant but a most practical Senator. Moore also possessed great stores of historical knowledge and his powers of repartee would have made him a dangerous opponent in debate.
Let us hope that Ireland
“Whose every rill and every river
may yet obtain the ashes of her great poet; that we may see the accomplishment of the hope so feelingly expressed by Denis Florence MacCarthytruly pronounced, at the Charlemont House meeting, to be the best Irish poet Moore has left behind him—and that
The hour may come, when, on his mother's breast,
Without further preface I venture now to place this Volume before the Irish public, trusting that sympathising with the subject rather than criticising the execution, they will overlook its imperfections.
Dublin, May, 1852.
The publishers having informed me that my Memoir of MOORE has been for some time out of print, and that many inquiries have been made for the volume, I have prepared a new edition. I trust that, as it contains the main facts of MOORE'S career (those who require minute details must go to Earl Russell's volumes, many beautiful passages from his poetical and prose works, and several of his eloquent speeches, not now easy of access, it will be welcome at the approaching CENTENARY. The arrangement has been a little altered, and some important additions have been made, but the national tone of the volume is the same as that which won for the first edition from the press and the public the honour of a most flattering reception.
Dublin, May, 1879.
THOMAS MOORE was born on the 28th of May, 1779, in Aungier Street, in the City of Dublin, where his father carried on business as a grocer. Some memoirs make Wexford the birth-place of the poet, but he always described himself as a native of Dublin. Of Wexford, however, he said, when visiting Bannow in 1835, that he looked upon
as, in one sense, more than his own birthplace, for it was the birth-place of his mother. Moore's parents were Catholics, and he was, of course, educated in that faith.
Of his mother Moore always spoke in most affectionate terms. In 1822, at the mature age of forty-three, he wrote the following lines in her pocket-book :
“ They tell us of an Indian tree,
Which-howso'er the sun and sky
And shoot and blossom wide and high-
Downward again to that dear earth,
Its grateful being first had birth.
'Tis thus, tho' woo'd by flattering friends,
And fed with fame (if fame it be),
With love's true instinct back to thee."
At an early age Moore gave evidence of possessing considerable talent. He was placed, when very young, with Mr. Whyte, a well-known schoolmaster, in Grafton Street, Dublin, the same teacher in whose school Richard Brinsley Sheridan had been a scholar, and by no means a creditable onefor he, who in after years dazzled the world with his eloquence and wit, was pronounced, when a boy, to be “an incorrigible dunce." Moore, on the other hand, appears to have displayed a marked precocity of talent; and, as Mr. Whyte delighted in private theatricals, “Master Moore," whom he termed his “show” actor, had frequent opportunities of displaying his abilities. At the early age of ten years Moore delivered an epilogue, entitled “ A Squeeze at St. Paul's," with it is said) considerable success. Moore mentions, in the autobiographical sketch prefixed to his works, that his first attempt at verse-making was associated with the drama. Even before he had reached his tenth year he says that he acted Patrick, in the “Poor Soldier,"and Harlequin in the Pantomime at a performance arranged by the young people of his acquaintance, and that he wrote and recited an epilogue for the occasion. In fact, at so early an age did Moore enter on the “craft of verse-making," that he declares himself unable to say at what age he first began to "sing and rhyme." Like Pope,
“He lisped in numbers, for the numbers came."