MOORE'S LITERARY REMAINS.*
WE have not much liking for the industry which drags to light "suppressed passages," unearths work which an author deliber- ately doomed to oblivion, annotates and prints matter which the writer wished to remain in manuscript, and generally does its best to defeat his wishes. It is not quite so bad as rifling tombs. It is not so grave a crime as slander, and we do not know that it ought to be made a cos pendable. But there are few things more heartless than the systematic violation of every wish of an author in order to gratify idle curiosity. We do not mean all of this to apply to Mr. Shepherd's work. He was quite justified in publishing some of the political satires and squibs in this volume, which are equal to those before the world, and which were probably not republished by Moore himself for reasons which have long passed away. About their genuineness there can be no mistake. They speak for themselves, and the editor tells us that they are taken from a small quarto scrap-book of newspaper cuttings, kept by Moore, and containiEg many corrections in his handwriting. Most readers will be of opinion, we should think, that Moore did wisely in letting his juvenile sentimental poems rest in obscurity, and that the editor is ridiculously ecstatic over the tales and
verses which he has discovered. He has not, however, offended against good taste,---except, perhaps, in regard to the publication of the original notes for Moore's life of Byron. They are taken from a rough-manuscript book, partly in pencil and partly in ink. They formed a mass of rough notes, called, "Chiefly References for my Byron." Mr. Shepherd fancies that they will help to throw some new light on the poet's character. As well might chips struck off by Canova's chisel be used to show what manner of man he was. There is scarcely a sentence of any real consequence which is not virtually contained in the published work, and it is easy to surmise why some of the passages were omitted, containing, as they do, names which might give gratuitous pain.
The origin of the volume is told in the editorial introduc- tion. The publishers are in possession of the note-books, common-place books, a large mass of correspondence, and the original drafts and manuscripts of Moore's principal writings. The editor has picked out from this miscellany what he thought to be new and interesting. He has dis- covered several political satires omitted from the edition of the collected works. Moore's contributions to the Edinburgh Review after his reconciliation with Jeffrey are reprinted. He wrote a comic opera for the Lyceum in 1811, which may have pleased the galleries, but which his Liberal friends thought a little snobbish in its allusions to the Prince Regent. An unfinished Oriental tale, the Chapter of the Blanket, has been deciphered from two manu- script books, "with the greatest difficulty, and with the aid of a powerful magnifying-glass." The editor sets a very high price on this discovery. "It has all the grace and sparkle of one of the romances of Voltaire, and a sunny radiance of wit and poetry glanc- ing over it that makes us regret its premature close, like that of a brief day of sunlight passing abruptly into night." And, no doubt, the fragment is pretty and polished. But it is too long and roundabout and diffuse, and to compare it to Voltaire's Oriental tales is to remind us of the lack of crispness and purpose and directness and all the virtues which characterise Zadig or the Princess of Babylon. Not much can be said for the poems written in Moore's youth. They are full of juvenile jingle about "amorous flowers" and " Bacchus's bowers," and "dewy blos- soms opening bright," customary in poetasters of the last century,
• Prose and Verse. By Thomas Moore. With Notes and Introduction by Richard Herne Shepherd. London : Chatto and Windtm.1
and we see no good reason why they should not have been left to slumber in the rarely-visited pages of the Anthologia Ribernica, a short-lived Dublin magazine, in which they saw the light. They are no better or worse than the verses of a thousand other clever young men, who lapsed into plain prose and dullness when they grew to man's estate. They are airy and fluent imitations, that is the utmost that can be said of them ; and to speak of some of them, as Mr. Shepherd does, as "singularly prophetic of the chord which he [Moore] struck with such delightful effect in after years," is to overdo the part of the zealous, admiring editor, and fling about haphazard praise. The most interesting portion of the book is the collection of political satires. In this sort of composition Moore is unrivalled. He is as much the squib- writer par excellence as Martial is the greatest epigrammatist. The art may not require very high qualifications. A light touch, fluent versification, and a mobile fancy may be the only essentials ; but with the doubtful exception of Peter Pindar—and he was too slovenly in his versification and too local in his hits to please any age but his own—who has ever surpassed Moore as a writer of political jeux d'esprit? The pieces here disinterred may not be his very best vein, but the following lines, from a poem called "The Two Veterans," and describing a supper at which the Prince Regent and Marshal Bliicher met, are amusing :—
"Oh! wine is the thing to make veterans tell Of their deeds and their triumphs—and punch does as well—
As the Regent and Bliicher, that sober old pair, Fully proved t' other night, when they supp'd—you know where,. And good-humouredly bragg'd of the feats they'd been doing O'er exquisite punch of my Yarmouth's own brewing.
This difference there was in the modes of their strife,
One had fought with the French—t' other fought with his wife L
How I dress'd them !' said Blucher, and fill'd up, sublime- ' I, too,' says the Prince, 'have dress'd men in my time.'
Bt. One morning at dawn— Reg. Zounds, how early you...fight I I could never be ready (hiccups); my things are so tight !
Bl. I sent forward a few pioneers over night— Reg. Ugly animals these are, in general, I hear (hiccups)— The Queen, you must know, is my chief pioneer.
Bl. The foe came to meet us— Reg. There I manage better, The foe would meet me, but I'm d—d if I'll let her.
BL Pell-mell was the word—dash thro' thick and thro' thin— Reg. Carlton House to a tittle I—how well we chime in! iii. For the fate of all Europe, the fate of mon's rights, We battled— Reg. And I for the grand fête at White's ! Though the ways, deep and dirty, delay'd our design— Reg. Never talk of the dirt of your ways—think of mine! Bl. And the balls hissing round— .Reg. Oh! those balls be my lot, Where a good supper is, and the Princess is not.
And for hissing—why, faith! I've so much every day,
That my name, I expect, in the true Royal way,
Will descend to posterity,' GEORGE LE &FELE!' Bt. But we conquer'd, we conquer'd—blest hour of my life !
Beg. And blest moment of mine, when I've conquer'd my wife t
Here the dialogue falter'd ; he still strove to speak ; But strong was the punch, and the Regent's head weak ; And the Marshal cried 'Charge !' and the bumpers went round, Till the fat toilet-veteran sunk on the ground; And old Blucher triumphantly crowed from his seat To see one worthy potentate more at his feet."
A poetical correspondence between Don Miguel and Bishop Phillpotts has no other point than this,—
" 'Tis sweet, to think, whoever draws
His sword against the people's cause Is sure, at least, of thy applause, My Bishop."
Moore had a special aversion to Henry of Exeter, andhe sent to the Morning Chronicle, a rhymed letter truculently describing a new genus of Churchman called "the Phillpot," and subjoining a string of offensive questions by which "to tell if a Phil-pot is of the wrong breed or right one." The satire is fierce and thin—an exhibition of bad temper rather than wit—as may be judged from one sample,—
" Through the whole Book of Numbers I'll thank you to run, And say which the parson loves best ? Number one."
"An Invitation to the Tories, by the Rev. E. Irving," is mere mud —a coarse, truculent piece of abuse, imperfectly relieved by such
lines as these :—
" Once a week, th' dives of Owen, After his long opiate drams,
To the fiddle's sound set going Hop in parallelograms."
The lines on "The Bread-fruit Tree, a tale of the Sandwich Isles," are too long to quote. But they are among the most vigorous Free-Trade verses ever written ; there is nothing more forcible in Ebenezer Elliot's Corn-Law Rhymes, and they have touches of pathos which are rare in Moore's writings.
Moore did not contribute much to the Edinburgh Review, but his articles were most multifarious. He reviewed the poems of Lord Thin.low in that slashing, hectoring, omnipotent way which Jeffery thought the ideal of criticism, and which our fathers liked, as they did boxing, bull-baiting, and cock- fighting. A glance at the review—if we may so term a massacre in which no quarter is given— will satisfy one that Moore was as clever and unfair as could be de- sired in an Edinburgh reviewer, A.D. 1814. In another article of the same year Moore passes judgment on the whole body of the Fathers. This wonderful production is amusing in its audacity. We are assured that the Fathers, "though admirable martyrs and saints were, after all, but indifferent Christians ;" that generally they were no better than they ought to be ; that their works do not satisfy Tom Moore's high moral standard ; that Tertullian is "harsh, muddy, and unintelligible ;" that St. Chrysostom, St. Gregory Nazianzen, and St. Basil are "affected declaimers;" and that the works of the Fathers abound in puerile conceits, flaunting metaphors, and false finery. Perhaps a still more astounding instance of literary assurance is a disquisition on German Rationalism, a propos of works by Dr. Pusey, Dr. Rose, and Dr. Lee. It abounds in puns and amusing similes. But it was meant to be instructive, if not grave. It showed some knowledge of the works of Michaelis and Schleiermacher, at a time when that was uncommon in England ; it was admired by the late Dean Milman, who could not be brought to believe that it was by Moore ; and there is about it an amusing air of make-believe pro- fundity. Moore is more at home, however, in discussing the vagaries of wild Irish antiquarians respecting the round towers. He has rich materials, and he makes good use of them. Scholars who believe that they detect a Punic gentleman in one of Plautus's plays speaking Irish, that the name of the Egyptian god Osiris ought properly to be written " O'Siris," like O'Brien or O'Gorman, and that the true idea in logos can be got only by a study of Irish, are ready-made subjects of mirth. The comic opera entitled M.P. ; or, the Blue-Stocking, is not a very amusing work, and we do not much wonder that Moore decided not to republish it in his collected works, and that he spoke of it apologetically. The story is absurdly improbable. One of the heroes—for there are several—is a Henry de Rosier, son of Count de Rosier, who be- comes assistant in a circulating library, and does sundry astound- ing feats in that situation. There is an elder brother, a handsome seaman, whose suspected illegitimacy is the only reason why he is not a baronet, in place of his younger brcither, the M.P. of the story,—.a silly punster. The story reads like a reminiscence of the Trip to Scarborough, and it proves that Moore, with all his wit, had not a spark of dramatic power. We are glad that the editor has included Moore's famous but little-read letter to the Roman Catholics of Dublin,—a letter in which he asked whether "you can think without shame and indignation that for so long a period you have been the only people in Europe (with the excep- tion of a few petty States in the neighbourhood of the Pope) who have sunk so low in ecclesiastical vassalage as to place their whole hierarchy at the disposal of the Roman Church." Much of it reads like an anticipation of Mr. Gladstone's pamphlet.