ning the ear of the ladies, but also of some influential noblemen. He was appointed to a situation in the Vice Admiralty Court at Bermudas, and he embarked for that island, which Shakspeare makes the birth-place of his sylph Ariel. During his leisure moments Mr. Moore did not neglect the muses, and the beauties of the Azores; and on his return to England published a collection of odes, epistles, and fugitive poems, in which he celebrates the enchantments of a climate well calculated to seduce, by its various features, the poet's imagination. Of these pieces, some are rich with brilliant descriptions, while others reproduce the tender emotions with which Mr. Moore delights to inspire himself. He had, however, found the ladies of the Bermudas more fond than beautiful; he treats their husbands still less favourably, telling us that the ancient philosopher, who held that after this life, the men are changed into mules, and the women into turtles, might have seen this metamorphosis nearly accomplished at Bermudas. But it is in the United States that Mr. Moore meets with the greatest disappointments ; it is more especially the United States which have reason to complain of his Epistles, dated from Washington City, and Lake Erie. Mr. Moore affirms that he departed for America with favourable prepossessions. He had pictured American liberty to himself as the divinity of a Republican Utopia. He was shocked to find nothing but coarse tradesınen among the democrats, and citizens almost as vulgar among the federalists: a new proof that Mr. Moore is only a drawing-room liberal, a boudoir demagogue, American liberty springing from commerce, plain, consequently, and somewhat plebeian, appeared to his eyes in the light of vulgar company. He would have wished to find her polite and even ca. pricious; and then he would have considered her worthy of his devotions ; but, alas!

“ Like the nymphs of her own withering clime,
She is olden in youth, she is blasted in prime."

Epistle to Lord Forbes.

According to him, she is cold, avaricious, and possesses all the vices of old maids; not to mention, that in consequence of being corrupted by French philosophy, she is a driveller, who utters nothing but sophisms.

The poor Americans are nothing but merchants, who have made themselves free, in order to make their sovereign a bankrupt, and to support the allegation, is brought the forced quotation of Montesquieu, of which, with Mr. Moore's permission, England may appropriate a portion to her. self. It seems that the president of that day, or some other magistrate of the Union, had a favourite negress; and accordingly Mr. Moore sets about turning into ridicule the American Pericles, and his African Aspasia, in the lines commencing, “ The weary statesman,” &c.

Epistle to Mr. Hume. The spotless glory of Washington is not spared in these diatribes, wherein the poet rises to a lofty flight of composition, while painting one of the

features of the vast American continent, though always, it must be admitted, in the design of humiliating and mortifying the inhabitants. But Mr. Moore was then on his return to Ireland, and about to devote his eminent talents to a national undertaking; that of the Irish Melodies.

There can be little doubt that the primitive songs, or lyrical compositions of the rhapsodists, were the spontaneous production of a poetical musician, who struck off the words and the air in the same heat. Subsequently, songs have generally preceded the music. But such is the triumph of music, which is the true universal language, over poetry, which only appertains to one language, that the tune still survives, when the words are lost. The Virgilian Shepherd was thence induced to exclaim, “I remember the air, but I have forgotten the words."

“ Numeros memini si verba tenerem."

Ireland possessed an original and popular music, which supplied numerous allusions to its manners, customs, and history, and which still more than the Scotch music deserved that a Burns should render it popular, and consecrate it, as it were, by an alliance with the national poetry. Miss Owenson had already adapted words to some of these airs of old Erin: but to Thomas Moore be. longs the merit of assembling almost all of them in one historical record.

“ It has been often remarked, and oftener felt,

that our music is the truest of all comments in our history. The tone of defiance, succeeded by the language of despondency-a burst of turbulence dying away into softness—the sorrows of one moment lost in the levities of the next—and all the romantic mixture of mirth and sadness, which is naturally produced by the efforts of a lively temperament to shake off or forget the wrongs which lie upon it; such are the features of our history and character, which we find strongly and faithfully reflected in our music: and there are many airs, which I think it is difficult to listen to without recalling some period or event to which their expression seems peculiarly applicable.”

Letter to the Marchioness of Donalian.

The fault of Mr. Moore consists in having too often forgotten this latter consideration, in order to substitute his frivolous ideas in the room of glorious associations, or the regret which was naturally suggested. We have too many verses to Chloris in the Melodies, and not enough of those hymns in honour of Bryan the Brave; not enough of those descriptive _songs, which like music convey the mind into the local scenery which they depict. Mr. Moore's Elegies, his amorous complaints, sometimes his complaints of exile, possess no other national and characteristic feature than the name of Erin. The poet speaks of independence and liberty, like a Greek of Athens, and like a rhetorician who has translated

Anacreon. He talks, indeed, of love, but then

it is,

“ Caton Galant, on Brutus Damaret."

The luxury of the costumes, and of the periphrasis in Lalla Rookh, tend to persuade us that we are reading an oriental poem ; it might be almost called, according to a well-known expression, more Arabic than Arabia. But in the Irish Melodies, if Mr. Moore is almost always a remarkable lyrical poet, he is seldom an Irishman, while Burns always remains a Scotchman in his Caledonian melodies. I have said enough to explain the reason ; Mr. Moore has composed exclusively for the piano of pretty women.

Burns has preserved his somewhat savage independence in his songs; Moore resembles a caged nightingale, who devotes his dulcet voice to an imitation of the airs of the bird-organ. I shall return to this subject when I consider the character of Burns and of the Scotch melodies. I can, however, quote some honourable exceptions to the general tone of the melodies of the Irish Anacreon; Rich and Rare, is a fragment rendered exquisite by its affecting, simplicity; it describes the voyage of a young virgin, clothed in rich vestures, who on the faith of the virtues of Brien and his people, travels through the entire kingdom, without fear of outrage. O the sight-entrancing, is the almost sublime expression of a warrior's enthusiasm at the sight of arms. I must abstain from translation, since divested of their rhythm and their music,

« 前へ次へ »