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erotic and voluptuous tendency of sentiment, which is sometimes carried beyond the bounds of good taste and morality. But the voluptuousness of this poet is not of a very dangerous or corrupting nature: it is the result rather of a lively fancy than of a profoundly passionate temperament, and expresses itself in a perpetual sparkle of ingenious allusion and combination of ideas. If wit be properly defined as the power of perceiving relations between objects which to ordinary minds appear incapable of combination, then Moore possesses wit in a very high degree a degree as high perhaps as Cowley himself: and like Cowley he exhibits this faculty quite as strikingly in his serious as in his comic writings. He is in particular remarkable for the felicity with which he illustrates and adorns his fancies by allusions drawn from apparently remote and unexpected sources : and though he sometimes abuses this kind of ingenuity, which is of course out of place in passages where the poet's aim is to excite deep emotion, yet it is often productive of pleasure and surprise to the reader.
The Irish Melodies, a collection of about one hundred and twentyfive songs, were composed in order to furnish appropriate words to a great number of beautiful national airs, some of great antiquity, which had been degraded by becoming gradually associated with lines often vulgar and sometimes even indecent. The music was arranged by Sir John Stevenson, an Irish composer of some merit, and Moore furnished the poetry, which occupied in England and Ireland a somewhat similar position as regards popularity with that of Béranger in France. The themes as well as the airs of these songs are almost entirely national; and when we think of the very narrow repertory of subjects to which the song-writer is necessarily limited, we cannot but admire the extraordinary fertility of invention he has displayed. Patriotism, love, and conviviality form the subject-matter of these charming lyrics: the past glories and sufferings and the future greatness of Ireland are indeed frequently allegorized in many of those lyrics which at first sight appear devoted to love: as the praises of wine and women in the songs of Hafiz are interpreted by orthodox Mahometan critics to signify, esoterically, the raptures of religious mysticism. The versification of these songs has never been surpassed for melody and neatness : indeed, from a simple declamation of many of them, it is easy to guess at the air to which they were intended to be sung. The language is always clear, appropriate, and concise, and sometimes reaches a high degree of majesty, vigor, or tenderness. The pathetic effect is seldom missed, except when the author is led away by his ingenuity to introduce one of those conceits or witty turns, which, by their very epigrammatic cleverness, are destructive of lofty or tender emotion. Though Moore is destitute of the intense feeling of Burns, or of that exquisite sensibility to popular feeling which makes Béranger the darling of the middle and lower classes of France, yet he appeals, as they do, to the universal sentiments of his countrymen, and his popularity is proportionally great. The Irish Melodies appeared in a succession of fasciculi, and instantly attained an immense popularity: there is not a piano in
England or Ireland upon which they are not to be seen. On a somewhat similar plan Moore composed a considerable number — about seventy - of songs intended to be accompanied by tunes peculiar to various countries. These he called National Airs, and they exhibit the same exquisite sensibility to the musical character of the different airs, and the same neatness of expression, as the Irish Melodies; but they are naturally inferior to them in intensity of patriotic feeling. In the latter as in the former collection, Moore sometimes fails in his effect by indulging in playful ingenuities of fancy and epigrammatic turns of thought. A small collection of Sacred Songs affords frequent examples both of the merits and defects of Moore's lyrical genius, though the latter are perhaps more prominent as destructive occasionally of the lofty religious tone which the subject required him to maintain. None of these collections, however, can be examined without the reader's meeting with many examples of consummate felicity, both in the conception and treatment of song-composition; and they all exhibit a high polish, an almost fastidious finish of style, which, though it sometimes interferes with their effect by giving a sort of artificial and drawing-room refinement, yet certainly makes them models of perfection in their peculiar manner.
$ 9. As a Liberal, an Irishman, and a Catholic, Moore naturally felt intense hostility to those bigoted, retrograde, and tyrannical principles which governed for so long a time the policy of England towards his country; and for many years he kept up, generally in the columns of the Opposition newspapers, a constant fire of brilliant and witty lampoons. These were directed against the Tory party in general, and were showered with peculiar vivacity and stinging effect upon the Regent, afterwards George IV., Lord Eldon, Castlereagh, and all those who were opposed to the granting of any relaxation to the Irish Catholics. Moore's political squibs form an era in the history of this class of composition. Instead of the coarse and malignant invective which generally marked, before this time, these party lampoons, the wit of which could not always obtain pardon for their grossness and personality, Moore introduced a tone of good society, an elegance, a playfulness, and an ingenuity which give them a permanent value quite independent of their momentary piquancy. The ingenious way in which out-of-the-way reading and unexpected allusion were brought to bear upon the topics of the day showed the extraordinary fertility of Moore's invention, and the brilliancy of his wit. His Odes on Cash, Corn, and Catholics, his Fables for the Holy Alliance, show an inexhaustible invention of quaint and ingenious ideas, and the power of bringing the most apparently remote allusions to bear upon the person or thing selected for attack. The sharp and highly-polished shafts of Moore's satire must have inflicted exquisitely painful wounds upon the self-love of his victims; but they were wounds which rendered complaint impossible and retaliation difficult. Some of the most celebrated of these brilliant pasquinades were combined into a sort of story, as for example the Fudge Family in Paris, purporting to be a series of letters written
from France just at the period of the Restoration of the Bourbons. The authors of the correspondence are Mr. Fudge, a creature of Lord Castlereagh and a kind of political spy, his son Bob, a dandy and epicure of the first water, and his daughter Biddy, a delightful type of the frivolous, romance-reading Miss. The letters of the father give a bitterly ironical picture of the baseness and servility of the triumphant Royalist party, those of the son are a delicious mixture of cookery and dress, and the daughter, in high-flying romantic jargon, describes her adventures with a distinguished-looking stranger with whom she falls in love, under the idea that he is the King of Prussia, then incognito at Paris, but who afterwards turns out, to her infinite horror, to be a linen-draper's shopman. Nothing can be more animated, brilliant, and humorous than the description of the motley life and the giddy whirl of amusement in Paris at that memorable moment; and the whole is seasoned with such a multitude of personal and political allusions, that the Fudge Family will probably ever retain its popularity, as both a social and political sketch of a most interesting moment in modern European history.
§ 10. The longer and more ambitious poems of Moore are Lalla Rookh and the Loves of the Angels, the former being immeasurably the best, both as regards the interest of the story and the power with which it is treated. The plan of Lalla Rookh is original and happy; it consists of a little prose love-tale describing the journey of a beautiful Oriental princess from Delhi to Bucharia, where she is to meet her betrothed husband, the king of the latter country. Great splendor of imagination and immense stores of Eastern reading are lavished on the description of this gorgeous progress, and the details of scenery, manners, and ceremonial are given with an almost overpowering luxuriance of painting, artfully relieved by a pleasant epigrammatic humor displayed in the character and criticisms of the princess's pompous and pedantic chamberlain, Fadladeen. For Lalla Rookh's amusement, when stopping for her night's repose, a young Bucharian poet, Feramoz, is introduced, who chants to the accompaniment of his national guitar four separate poems of a narrative character, which are thus, so to say, incrusted in the prose story. The princess becomes gradually enamoured of the interesting young bard, and her growing melancholy continues till her arrival at her future home, where, in the person of her betrothed husband, who comes to meet her in royal pomp, she recognizes the musician who had employed his disguise of a poor minstrel to gain that love which he deserved to enjoy as a monarch. The prose portion of the work is inimitably beautiful; the whole style is sparkling with Oriental gems, and perfumed, as it were, with Oriental musk and roses; and the very abuse of brilliancy and of a voluptuous languor, which in another kind of composition might be regarded as meretricious, only adds to the Oriental effect. The four poems to which the above story forms a setting are the Veiled Prophet, the Fire-Worshippers, Paradise and the Peri, and the Light of the Harem; all, of course, of an Eastern character, and the two first in some degree
historical in their subject. The longest and most ambitious is the first, which is written in the rhymed heroic couplet, while the others are composed in that irregular animated versification which Walter Scott and Byron had brought into fashion. The Veiled Prophet is a story of love, fanaticism, and vengeance, founded on the career of an impostor who made his appearance in Khorassan, and after leading astray numberless dupes by a pretended miraculous mission to overthrow Mahometanism, was at last defeated by the armies of the faithful. He is, in short, a kind of Mussulman Antichrist. The betrayal of the heroine by his diabolical arts, and the voluptuous temptations by which he induces a young Circassian chieftain to join his standard, the recognition of the lovers, and the tragical death of the deceiver and his victims, form the plot of the story; but the gorgeous splendor of the descriptions, and the unvarying richness of Oriental imagery in the style, are the chief qualities of the poem. Its defects are chiefly a too uniform tone of agonized and intense feeling which becomes monotonous and strained, and the want of reality in the characters, the demoniac wickedness of Mokanna being contrasted with the superhuman exaltation of love and sorrow in the lovers. Nor did Moore possess full mastery over the grave and masculine instrument of the heroic versification; and, therefore, despite the astonishing richness of the imagery and descriptions, the poet's peculiar genius is more favorably exhibited in the beautiful songs and lyrics which are occasionally interspersed, as particularly in the scene where Azim is introduced to a kind of foretaste of the joys of Paradise. This portion of the poem is borrowed from the half-fabulous accounts given by historians of the initiation of the celebrated sect of the Assassins. The Fire-Worshippers is also a love-story, and bound up with the cruel persecution by the Turks of the Guebres; but under the disguise of the tyrannical orthodoxy opposed to the patriotic defenders of their country and their faith Moore undoubtedly intended to typify the resistance of the Irish Catholics to the persecuting domination of their English and Protestant oppressors. The love-adventures of Hafed the Guebre chief, and Fatima the daughter of the Mussulman tyrant, are not very original or very new; but some of the descriptions are animated and striking, in spite of a rather over-strained and too emphatic tone. Paradise and the Peri is a very graceful apologue, and the scenes in which the exiled fairy seeks for the gift which is to secure her readmission to Heaven are picturesque and varied with great skill. She successively offers as her passport to the regions of bliss the last drop of blood shed by a patriot, the dying sigh of a self-devoted lover, but these are pronounced insufficient; at last she presents the tear of a repentant sinner, which is received by the guardian of the celestial portal as "the gift that is most dear to Heaven.” Fanciful and tender to the highest degree, the subject of this little tale is worked out with great variety and picturesqueness of detail; many of the scenes are extremely beautiful, and the whole story has a compactness and completeness which render it very charmning. The Light of the Harem is a little love-episode be
tween “the magnificent son of Akbar” and his beautiful favorite Nourmahal. A momentary coldness between the lovers is terminated by the instrumentality of a mysterious and lovely enchantress, who evokes the Spirit of Music to furnish Nourmahal with a magic wreath of flowers. This has the power of giving to the voice of its wearer such a superhuman power and persuasiveness, that when she presents herself disguised, to sing before her imperial lover at the Feast of Roses, all his former passion revives, and the amantium iræ terminate with a reconciliation. The description of the fair flower-sorceress Namouna, the invocation, and above all the exquisitely varied and highly finished songs which are assigned to the different performers in the festival, all these afford striking examples of the rich, graceful, and deliciously musical, if somewhat fantastic and artificial genius of Moore.
The Loves of the Angels, the only remaining poem of any length, need not detain us long. It is manifestly inferior to Lalla Rookh, not only in the impracticable nature of its subject, but in the monotony of its treatment. The fundamental idea is based upon that famous and much misunderstood passage of the Book of Genesis, where it is said that in the primeval ages " the sons of God” became enamoured of “ the daughters of men,” the issue of which connection was the Giants. Moore introduces three of these angels, who by yielding to an earthly love have forfeited the privileges of their celestial nature, and who relate, each in his turn, the story of their passion and its punishment. Independently of the improbability which is inseparable from the idea of an amour between beings so widely dissimilar in their nature, and which is destructive of the reader's interest, the incidents themselves are so little varied that the effect is tiresome in the extreme. This poem was written during Moore's retirement to Paris, and bears some traces of the influence of Byron's somewhat similar, and not much more successful production, Heaven and Earth, which was in its turn generated to a certain degree by the writings of Shelley.
$ 11. The chief prose works of Moore are the three biographies of Sheridan, Byron, and Lord Edward Fitzgerald, and the tale of the Epicurean, the last intended originally to appear as a poem, but rewritten in prose. It is a narrative of the first ages of Christianity, and describes the conversion, under the influence of love, of a young Athenian philosopher, who travels into Egypt, and is initiated into the mysterious worship of Isis. The descriptions are sometimes animated and picturesque, but there is a languor and vagueness in the characters and in the conduct of the story, which will prevent this production from obtaining a very permanent popularity. Moore's biographies, particularly that of Byron, are of great value : indeed his memoir of his illustrious friend and fellow-poet is the best that has yet appeared. It is particularly valuable from consisting, as far as possible, of extracts from Byron's own journals and correspondence, so that the subject of the biography is delineated in his own words, Moore furnishing little more than the arrangement and the connecting matter. Byron himself furnished the materials for the biography which he desired Moore