pleader. Their business is to exclude the radicals from office as well as from the drawing-room. It is in the latter where Thomas Moore amuses his illustrious amphitryons, by his pathetic sighs for English liberty, and by his alternately coarse and witty squibs against the despots and ultras of the continent; it is there that the noblest genius of constitutional France is calumniated, the Burke of the French monarchy—he who by his writings has converted so many royalists to the charter, and so many liberals to royalty; it is there that he is pronounced a great sycophant and mere maker of phrases. But since a mask of public morality was requisite to these liberal aristocrats, for the support of English dignity, their poet was not allowed to continue his lascivious madigrals. For some time, therefore, Thomas Moore has become moral and almost chaste. Let us follow him through the history of his various writings; we shall find him more superficial than profound, more tender, than pathetic, more graceful than energetic; addressing the heart rather than the mind; but still on all occasions an amiable poet, sometimes a great poet, and almost always embued with imagination, wit, and taste. I think it is Diderot who affirms, that in order to write well on the subject of females, it would be requisite to dip the pen in the dyes of the rainbow, and dry the paper with powder borrowed from the wings of the butterfly. It might be imagined, that Thomas Moore had employed this recipe, in order to compose his oriental imagery, and depict his Peris, or not less brilliant mortal fairies; there is so prodigious a luxury of metaphors and ornaments lavished on his verses, that they may be styled a selection of poetical arabesques. The Grand Nazir of the Mogul Princess might have added to the above noticed critique, that the elements of Thomas Moore's poetry consist in the ingenious distribution of divers butterfly wings, angel plumes, beams of light, pearls, precious stones, perfumes, &c. All these fictitious appendages do not always adorn perfect beauties; but, as paste and false diamonds produce enchanting metamorphoses at the opera, with the aid of singing and music, the poet operates an illusion by the magic of his pictures and the melody of his verses. He has carried this melody farther than any English poet since Chaucer: Thomas Moore's poetry is almost Italian. This melody was already conspicuous in his first pieces, addressed to Julia, Rose, Jessy, Bessy, Mary, and to thirty other married beauties, whom the discreet Mr. Little designates by three asterisks. The little Parny of Ireland had more than one Eleonora. The collection consists of elegant epigrams against marriage, or gallant sophisms on the facility of entering paradise. Accordingly, after telling Julia that she will be sentenced to perdition, Mr. Little qualifies the announcement, and consoles her by saying, that love has made her so beautiful, that she will only have to present herself at heaven's gate, when the saints will mistake her for a virgin, and open it.

“You so like an angel smile,
They can't but let you in.”

In the subsequent piece, which contains a heresy of another kind, the soul of woman was understood by Mahomet alone; they are toys, dolls without reason, and without ideas.

“Miser Catulle, desinas ineptire.”

But Catullus soon after falls into a bad humour, and ridicules a poor dowager, who, doubtless, had made him an overture. He drily informs her that he is no admirer of antiquity, that Diana herself could not seduce him in her wane, and that he would send her to hell in order to perform the part of Hecate. Horace did not treat Canidia worse, for I have not told the whole. But it is Rose's turn; she weeps; Mr. Little proves to her that it is with pleasure, and swears to make her weep for ever in the same manner. One should rather guess that Rose had been weeping, after hearing the morality of that other effusion, wherein her lover tells her, that since the casuists have affirmed that a single wish may damn us, and since she must, at least, have had such a wish, the best thing she can do, is to enjoy the sin first, and be damned after. But adieu to Rose. Her volatile lover surprises Jessey asleep; he tells Phillis that

* This idea is reproduced elsewhere, with less taste, when the poet tells Phillis, that a kiss is paradise to him, but that her lip is the only St. Peter who keeps the key— “Your lip, love, is only St. Peter.”

she is a prude not to give him her heart, and to make such a difficulty “about a trifle;” he then reminds Fanny of a certain journey they had in the mail coach.* He asks his mistress * * * to a petit souper.t

“Over a little attic feast,
As full of cordial soul at least,
As those when Delia met Tibullus,
Or Lesbia wantoned with Catullus,
I'll sing you many a roguish sonnet,
About it, at it, and upon it,” &c.

Finally, in the sonnet called the Catalogue, Mr. Little reviews all the beauties who have loved him, from Kitty, who taught him his first lesson, down to the little female saint Susan. Without excepting the latter, it will be seen that the friends of Mr. Little were not of the most scrupulous virtue; and accordingly all these poetical effusions interest us very little. But I shall attempt to translate some stanzas which express a melancholy emotion, to which no one who has not escaped the tender errors, (for which I should, after all, be sorry that my readers should be too severe on Mr. Moore’s youth,) can expect to remain a stranger.

“As-tu doncremarqué la réveuse tristesse
Qui d'un voile importin couvre soudain mes yeux
Au milieu des transports que seule, 6 mamaitresse,
Tu peux faire connaitre à mon coeur amoureux?

* Quadrigis petimus bena vivere.
+ Coenammon sine Candida puella.

Non, ne crois pas alors que dans tes bras j'oublie,
Combien à ton amour je dois de volupté,
Quel cœur plus que le mien épris de ta beauté,
Serait plus enivré de ta douce magie !

Ah ! lorsque je te vois, fuyant l'éclat du jour,
Incliner sur mon sein ta tête languissante,"
Puis n'ouvrir qu à demi ta paupière tremblante,
Rougissant da montrer même à moi tant d'amour,

De ces instans si doux qui n'envierait le charme?...
Eh bien, c'est même alors, quand tout doit t'embellir,
Que dans mes yeux je sens se glisser une larme,
Et que mon cœur ne peut étouffer un soupir.

Un souvenir jaloux me dit, ô ma Julie !
Qu'un autre, le premier, fit palpiter ton cœur ;
Qu'il te vit, comme moi, par l'amour embellie ;
Comme moi dans tes bras qu'il connut le bonheur.

Peut-être prononcé par ta bouche charmante,
Son nom de tous les noms devenait le plus doux ;
Peut-être qu'il te vit et timide et tremblante
Lui sourire et cacher ton front sur ses genoux.

Peut-être . ... Mais pourquoi vous rappeler encore,
Indiscrets souvenirs et regrets superflus ! .
Elle est enfin à moi, la beauté que j'adore,
Et le ciel ne pouvait rien m'accorder de plus.

[ocr errors]

This rhymed translation is rigorously faithful, with the exception of the last stanza, into which I have condensed the two last of the original, where the same idea appears to me repeated in nearly the same terms. But melody cannot be readily translated.

With his charming social verses, and his amiable manners, Mr. Moore succeeded, not only in win

« 前へ次へ »