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they also found an apology in the exquisite no mention is made throughout the volumes, playfulness of their style, in the learning except at the heads of the letters themselves. which they occasionally revealed, and in the Our suggestion is, that Lord John Russell, fino English with which they were invariably either with his own hand, or, if that be now clothed. Now, let us admire the poetry of too gravely employed on business of state, Tom Moore as we may, it is impossible to with the aid of a competent assistant, shall assert that his letters — judging from the deal with the remaining letters of the poet as specimens already given — add anything to so much raw material for biography rather his fame, or very much to the information than as biography itself. Heaps of bricks which Englishmen are anxious to obtain con- are not a house ; and no architect contemwrning the public life or private doings of plates unhewn stone and rough timber with the author of Lalla Rookh. Out of the four superstitious and unmeaning affection. If it hundred published letters, there are positively be really of vital consequence to print all not a dozen that communicate anything worth that a poet has prosaically written, good or recording of his inner or outer self, that have bad, to the purpose or away from it, we canreference to the current public events of his not see why biographers should not go a little time, that teach us anything of the poet's further, and publish a particular account of struggles, aspirations, difficulties, and tri- all the colds and influenzas his hero has sufumphs. All of them, no doubt, are full of fered, illustrated by the prescriptions made warmth, feeling, goodness; but of such qual- up in order to remove them. Letters, diaries, ities all men know Moore to have been pos- memoranda, or whatever else the illustrious sessed, and hundreds of assurances were not leave behind them, are sacred relics, of which required to reach our conviction on the point, the surviving trustees are bound to make the especially if the unnecessary evidence could best use in the interests of society as well as not be accompanied with some morsels of of the departed. Those interests are wholly substantial knowledge and historical illustra- neglected when the documents are delivered tion. Simple, pleasant utterances of a man's over without examination, and irrespectively gay spirit have no permanent interest, and of the public need. What is the duty of a weary by their frequency and repetition, even biographer, if it be not to discover, not only though they proceed from the bosom of a from the diaries, letters, and acknowledged minstrel. Light, moreover, as Moore's cor-writings of an author, but from every other respondence is, we are compelled to say that attainable source, the true character of his it loses even what little weight legitimately subject, in order that he may present to the belongs to it from a carelessness that is really world, out of his own mind, a complete, without excuse. Three letters following upon truthful, and harmonious picture – a living each other's heels, but all addressed to dif- lesson snatched from the grave, for the serferent individuals, contain a pretty fancy about vice of humanity to the latest time?
snow, pioneers, and shovels.” It was law Space is not thrown away, and time is not ful enough for Moore to excite a smile by one lost, by emphatically calling attention to these and the same joke on the countenances of points. On the contrary, we gladly seize the three distinct correspondents ; but it is most present opportunity to impress once more unwise in Lord John to awaken a feeling of upon our writers the necessity of dealing with impatience by the reiteration of light wit biography as with any other branch of litera upon the cars of one and the same reader. ture and art, and of bringing to bear upon Again. If letters have no sensible substance this most important department of writing in themselves, in the hands of a skilful editor the same conscientiousness and skill as are importanco may be lent to them by a line or deemed indispensable in other kinds of comtwo of connection and explanation. Not one position. It is certainly due to Lord John solitary link is supplied by Lord John Rus- Russell to state, that if he has not surpassed sell ; 80 that if interest is here and there in efficiency the majority of our recent biogby accident awakened, it expires almost as raphers, he has also not fallen much below soon as born for the want of a sentence to them. He has stumbled, it is true, upon the denote the character, position, and relation- same path as his predecessors, but with a ship of the correspondent — the exciting cause better excuse, it may be, than they can show of the writer's transient inspiration. Lotter for going lazily into the old track. We are after letter is addressed to individuals of whom aware that Thomas Moore consigned all his
papers to Lord John Russell for the benefit | would unquestionably have omitted from the
- that the poet's life actually remains to be the Life of Sheridan was not published by
is, for the most part, a commonplace book for In the preface to the two volumes before the reception of Sheridaniana. Moore pays as Lord J. Russell states that two embarrass- visits, makes calls, dines out mainly to collect ments chiefly weighed upon him while pre-gossip for his future publication; and the paring these papers for the press. In the reader will not be astonished to learn that a first place, he was embarrassed by the fear plentiful harvest of scandal was gathered and of overloading his work with letters and anec- duly garnered up in the notebook in question. dotes not worth preserving; and, secondly, We are forced to inquire whether it did not deeming that the poet had left much to his once occur to Lord John Russell that justice biographer's discretion, he was visited by an to the living as well as to the dead might doanxiety “to preserve the interest of letters mand the erasure of passages never, we are and of a diary written with great freedom convinced, written down for permanent record, and familiarity, at as little cost as possible to and only admitted at the time into the poet's those private and hallowed feelings which diary as recollections of gossip idly dropped, ought always to be respected.” Truth com- though industriously picked up, at the dinnerpels us to remark, that the amount of “em- table ? Poor Sherry! Has the grave corbarrassment," whatever it might be, was ered over, these forty years, the faults and manifestly insufficient to save his lordship foibles of your melancholy life, only that they from the commission of the very errors which may be now dragged to light again with a he tried to avoid ; for, not only are the two more offensive odor by your self-styled friends ? : volumes, as already intimated, fearfully over- Are there no hearts still throbbing to whom laden with letters that are altogether value the memory of Sheridan may be dear and loss; but " private and hallowed feelings” precious, who have “private and hallowed are by no means respected to the extent that feelings” worthy of respect, and who may sincere piety would suggest. Had Lord John not be disposed to prove, as easily they might, been visited with profitable compunctions, he the inconsistency of the idle tale writ down
in the diary, with the solemn judgment pro- ble pressure of circumstances alone any fuilnounced by Moore himself in the published ure that occurred in his engagements was to life of Richard Brinsley? The impression of be imputed ;” that, "80 far from never paySheridan derived by the reader of Moore's ing his debts, as is often asserted of him, he diary, as Lord John Russell has suffered it to was, in fact, always paying ;' that, “ his go forth to the world, unstripped of any of debts were by no means so considerable as its light and idle gossip, is that the author has been supposed ;' that he often paid a of the School for Scandal was a swindler and debt twice over rather than run the risk of a scoundrel. But that such was Moore's not paying it at all; that, “if his pecuniary opinion of his eloquent countryman we have irregularities are to be considered in reference the best reason in the world for disbeliev- to the injury they inflicted upon others, the ing — to wit, the evidence submitted by Moore quantum of evil for which he is responsible himself in his life of the orator and drama- becomes, after all, not so great ;' that “one tist. Those memoirs, albeit written at the actually wonders at the unlucky management time rather with the view of meeting the which contrived to found so extensive a repuprepossessions of his Whig patrons than of tation for bad pay upon so small an amount apologizing for the frailties of the dead and of debt ;' that “there are few to whose defenceless man of genius, contain deliberate kind and affectionate conduct, in some of the and frank admissions wholly incompatible most interesting relations of domestic life, so with the feeling inspired by the stories that many strong and honorable testimonies reare left to blast Sheridan's memory in the main ;" that, “it is impossible to regard his diary — admissions which, if they prove any- career otherwise than with the most charitathing at all, show, beyond a doubt, that al- ble allowances ;” and that, finally, “had he though in his search for materials Moore did been less consistent and disinterested in his not hesitate to note down for remembrance public conduct, he might have commanded every anecdote and piece of information, in the means of being independent and respectdifferent or good, that came in his way, yet able in private — he might have died a rich eventually, after seven years' investigation of apostate, instead of closing a life of patriotism the whole case, he felt bound to dismiss from in beggary – he might have hid his head in his mind all the calumnies that envy and a coronet, instead of earning for it but the hatred had engendered, and all the scandal barren wreath of public gratitude.” which, unfortunately, a too las career had We do not murmur because " noble a890provoked. Was it, we ask, for Lord John ciates," who never moved a finger to help to expose in such a case as this what Moore the living, took delight in blackening the himself had suppressed? We find it stated good name of the dead ; but we do complain in the diary that “the conduct of Sheridan that Lord John Russell, when he met with was of the meanest and most swindling kind,” the slanders heaped upon the head of a man and that “ his actions were one series of de- who, though from the ranks, still, like himbauchery and libertinism.” Hard measure this self, loved literature with the same ardor that for poor Sheridan! Did not the memoirs, he cherished popular rights, did not hesitate to seven years subsequently, give the lie broad- inflict upon his memory bitter wounds. Oh, ly to the whole assertion? Those memoirs how much easier to open than to heal! Ono distinctly state - we entreat Lord J. Rus- hour spent in the study of the Life of Sheria sell at his leisure to refer to them — that, dan, by Thomas Moore, would have sufficed although it was only during the last few to prove to Lord John Russell the propriety years of his life that Sheridan behaved reck- and absolute necessity of drawing his pen lessly, yet, even “ amid all the distresses of across the unauthenticated passages in the these latter years, he appears but rarely to diary, which are fatal to the reader's good have had recourse to pecuniary assistance opinion of Sheridan. That hour was to from friends ;' they aver that, whatever much, and the present generation are, acmay have been the faults of the man, the cordingly, left by his lordship, without ong tremendous sufferings of his last days were syllable of counsel or of warning, to believe more than a sufficient expiation for his sins ; that Richard Brinsley Sheridan wus a swinthat his sense of what was right survived his dler, a debauchee, and a libertine, with nos ability to practise it; that he “always meant one solitary redeeming virtue to raise him fairly and honorably, and that to the inevita- from the dust in which he lies.
But Moore, himself, suffers almost as much We can see the Alush of maternal pride as Sheridan, from his editor's want of thought that suffuses the old lady's cheek as she and care.
The mother of the poet had a reads this valuable communication for the laudable ambition. She was the wife of a twentieth time. We can also understand man who kept a small wine-store in Dublin ; the unsatisfactory feeling with which the inbut she was also the mother of a lad, who, dulgent reader peruses it for the first. Why from his childhood, had exhibited remarkable is it necessary to perpetuate such documents ? ability, and her strongest passion was to What do they show us of the poet's life raise the youth as high as she could in the which we care to look at ? What charactersocial scale. Tom was placed as early as istic do they illustrate which we are solicitpossible in the
of great people, and, we ous to admire? Why should we, page after must add, the youth took to his company as page, be annoyed when no annoyance was cordially and easily as it took to him. It is intended ? - and why are the sacred communo wonder that the larger portion of Moore's nications of mother and child to be thrown letters should be addressed to a fond mother; indiscriminately before a world that makes no and it is not a matter of surprise that the allowances for the extravagances of affection greater number of these letters should be when it is severely appealed to as a critic and filled with childish expressions of delight and a judge ? vanity at the condescension of the fine socic Let no man henceforth leave his papers to ty to which the poet — because he could sing the discretion of an editor, until he has pruand otherwise amuse it — had found instant dently reduced to ashes whatever documents admittance. But it certainly is astonishing a decent regard to his character for consistthat such epistles, which could have been in- ency renders it necessary to destroy. Tom tended only for the mother's heart, should Moore is not generally a moralist, whether in be now offensively thrust before the stranger's his diary or in his letters ; but one entry in eye, which cannot choose but turn involun- the former is too remarkable for the distinct tarily from communications with which it has enunciation of a fine moral sentiment to be no concern, and which it can never properly overlooked. The stion is concerning the appreciate. Had Lord John Russell desired paternity of Scott's novels.
" Another ar to create a feeling of disgust in the minds of gument,” writes Moore, “ between us (Roghis readers, he could not have set about the ers and myself), was on the justifiableness of task in a more business-liko manner than by a man asserting solemnly that a book was not the publication of such letters as the follow- his, when it really was. I maintained. that ing. We will give a brief specimen, at no man had a right to put himself into a sitlength ; there are unfortunately dozens to uation which required lies to support him in match :
it. Rogers quoted Paley about the expediChatsworth, Jan. 25, 1815. ency of occasionally lying, and mentioned MY DEAREST MOTHER :- I snatch a moment extreme cases of murder, &c., which had from the whirl of lords and ladies I am in here, nothing whatever to do with the point in to write a scrambling line or two to you; they question, and which certainly did not conAre all chattering at this moment about me dukes, countesses, &c., &c. It is, to be sure, a
vince me that Scott could be at all justified in most princely establishment, and the following such a solemn falsehood. At last Rogers are the company that sat down the first day I acknowledged that saying on his honor' came : - Lord and Lady Harrowby and their was going too far ; AS IF THE SIMPLE, SOLEMN daughter (he is a minister, you know), Lord
ASSERTION WAS NOT EQUALLY SACRED ! We and Lady Jersey, Lord and Lady Boringdon, Lord and Lady Lereson Gower, Lord and Lady recommend Lord John to compare this stern Morpeth, Lord and Lady Cowper, Lord Kin- entry in the diary with the following looser niard, the Duke himself, and the poet myself, passage, from letter 218, vol. 2, p. 331. It with one or two more inferior personages. ! is addressed to Mr. Power, the publisher of could have wished Bessy were here, but that I know she would not have been comfortable in it. Moore's music :-"I have collected all the She does not like any strangers, and least of all little squibs in the political way which I have would she like such grand and mighty strangers written for two or three years past, and am as are assembled here.
adding a few new ones to them for publicaI hope, my own dear mother, I shall find a
tion. letter at home from you, with better accounts
I shall, OF COURSE, deny the than my father gave us in his last.
trifles I am now doing; yet, if they are liked, Ever your own,
Том. . I shall be sure to get the credit of them.”
What imaginable need was there to retain qualify the force of expressions uttered in either of these observations, and what, at all lightness of heart, and with no disposition to events, but downright madness or premedi- deceive. But the trouble and time are not tated malice could have suggested the print- vouchsafed. Tom Moore left part of an auing of both?
tobiography behind him ; he left piles of letBut Lord John is not content with exhib- ters behind him ; he left a huge diary behind iting this single evidence of self-contradic- him ; and here the whole cartload is cast in tion! He keeps back nothing likely to dam- a confused and undistinguished heap before age his hero. What editor but his lordship us, in order that we may ourselves extract, would have thought it necessary to transmit as best we may, the jewel that lies imbedded to posterity the following letter, addressed by there. Moore to his mother? —
We shall humbly endeavor to perform this There is so much call for the opera that I have
office. An interesting life is that of Thomas made a present of it to little Power, to publish ; Moore, and not without its uses. It shall that is, nominally, I have made a present of it, be our part to trace its course, for the ad but I am to have the greater part of the profits, vantage of the reader, from its origin until notwithstanding. I do it in this way, however, the period at which the present volumes for two reasons, -one, that it looks more digni- leave it. fied, and, the second, that I do not mean to give
Grateful as we are for the spirit anything more to Carpenter; yet, do not think it in which Lord John Russell has undertaken worth breaking with him till I have something his service of love, and eager as we are to of consequence to give Longman.
welcome the spirit of literary brotherhood Or the following to Mr. Power ?
that has exhibited itself in high places, we I told you a little fib about the Examiner, can only lament that these volumes are less and the reason was, I had no idea it would have satisfactory than we know it to be in the taken notice of what I thought a very foolish power of Lord John Russell to have rendered thing, and was ashamed to acknowledge even to them. you. That is, however, the only squib I have
When Izaak Walton apologized to the reasent Perry since I left town.
der for his life of Donne, he sought to disarm Or the following to Mr. Longman, which criticism by frankly avowing that, having puts forth an announcement quite as dishon- once commenced to take notes for his underorable - if dishonor there be at all — as Sir taking, he “ became like those men that Walter's half-serious denial of authorship? enter easily into a lawsuit or a quarrel, and, Moore is speaking of Lalla Rookh, which is having begun, cannot make a fair retreat and not yet completed,
be quiet when they desire it.” Our more I mean, with your permission, to say in town recent autobiographers have unfortunately that the work is finished ; and merely withheld felt no such necessity to persevere to the end from publication on account of the lateness of of their labors. They have timidly retired the season. This I do in order to get rid of all from the suit before it was well commenced, the teasing wonderment of the literary quidnucs and have shown no heart for the public verut my being so long about it, &c.
dict. Sir Walter Scott, born in 1771, left It would be easy to repeat these instances behind him, in an old cabinet at Abbotsford, ad nauseam. But we forbear. None but the an autobiographical sketch, which tells pleasmost indifferent hand would have permitted antly enough of the writer's doings from infancy them to remain, without one syllable of com- down to the year 1792, and then suddenly ment or explanation, in the teeth of such par- breaks off. Southey, the most industrious agraphs as those we have quoted from the and indefatigable of scribes, whose histories are diary; for, standing in their nakedness, they voluminous, and whose poems are endless, indicate a prevailing state of mind which bravely determined, in his forty-sixth year, to we are convinced did not belong to Thomas write the history of his life, and went to work Moore, and convey a seriousness which the with a vigor and success that left nothing writer never intended to attach to the sylla- to be desired. Vain effort! The exquisito bles. Thomas Moore was not an habitual fragment deposits the writer at the age of liar, yet we must conclude from the above fifteen in Westminster School, and there gravely recorded passages that he was a hyp- leaves him. With his own hand the door of ocrite and liar both. We repeat, a very lit- that school is never again opened. Tom tlo trouble and time only were necessary to Moore, whose lively pen could not possibly