English Literature Of The 19th Century:
First Or Pre-victorian Period--1800-1837
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Read More Articles About: English Literature Of The 19th Century
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
Thomas Moore, at one time eulogized as the most brilliant poet in England, is remembered chiefly by his popular "Irish Melodies," songs which have not lost all their charm. Besides his Celtic faculty of writing verses for singing, he was a lively conversationalist, and thus became a favorite with thé Whig aristocracy at the be-ginning of the century.
Born in Dublin in 1779, he early showed his literary talent, and graduated at Trinity College in 1800. Going to London with a free translation of Anacreon, he obtained permission to dedicate it to the Prince Regent, afterwards George IV. A year later an original collection of licentious verse was published as "The Poetical Works of the Late Thomas Little," for the indecency of which he afterwards professed repentance. In 1803 an official post in the Bermudas was assigned to Moore, but he left it in charge of a deputy, and traveled in the United States. On his return to London he was welcomed by the world of fashion and satirized the Americans. His "Irish Melodies," adapted to ancient tunes, arranged by Sir John Stevenson, began to appear in 1807, and many additions were made in later years. These fascinating amatory and patriotic effusions rescued from vulgar associations the music of his native land, and are the best expression of his powers. His sparkling rhymes and varied measures so delighted the public that the Longmans offered him 3,000 guineas for an Oriental poem to be written in a year. Though he had never visited the East, he endeavored to steep his mind in Persian lore and imagery, and the result was the gorgeous "Lalla Rookh." It relates, in a frame-work of prose, the love-pilgrimage of the beautiful daughter of the Indian Emperor Aurungzebe, who, being betrothed to the Prince of Bucharia, set out from her royal home to meet him. The tedium of the caravan-march is beguiled by the charming recitations of a poet, with whom, ere she has reached her destination, she discovers she has fallen in love. But happily when she is presented at the Persian court, she beholds on the throne the poet who had won her heart. The poem is overloaded with tropical riches and tawdry ornament, but is redeemed also with many passages of pathos and quiet beauty. Moore's reputation was maintained for years, but after the advent of Tennyson it faded away, and recent critics have denied him real merit except that of improvisation.
His deputy in the Bermudas proved unfaithful, and Moore, being called on to make good his embezzlement, was plunged in pecuniary difficulties. He sought refuge on the Continent, and in "The Fudge Family of Paris" he satirized the boorishness of English travelers. In 1830 he published "The Life, Letters, and Journals of Lord Byron," whose friendship he had enjoyed. Some interesting documents which had fallen into his hands as editor, he destroyed, in order to spare the feelings of persons and families involved. In spite of some triviality of character, he was loyal to his native land, to his religion and his political party. Towards the close of his life his mental powers failed. He had suffered the loss of his five children, but his faithful wife survived him. He died in 1852.