A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Moore, Thomas

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Moore, Thomas (1779-1852). — Poet, b. in Dublin, s. of a grocer and wine-merchant in a small way, was ed. at Trinity Coll., after which he went to London, and studied law at the Middle Temple, 1799. He took with him a translation of Anacreon, which appeared, dedicated to the Prince Regent, in 1800, was well received, and made a position for him. In the following year appeared Poems by Thomas Little. In 1803 he received the appointment of Admiralty Registrar at Bermuda, and after visiting the island and travelling in America, he committed his official duties to a deputy (an unfortunate step as it proved), and returned to England. The literary fruit of this journey was Epistles, Odes, and other Poems (1806). In 1807 M. found his true poetic vocation in his Irish-Melodies — the music being furnished by Sir John Stevenson, who adapted the national airs. The reception they met with was enthusiastic, and M. was carried at once to the height of his reputation. They continued to appear over a period of 25 years, and for each of the 130 songs he received 100 guineas. His charming singing of these airs, and his fascinating conversational and social powers made him sought after in the highest circles. In 1815 there appeared National Airs which, however, cannot be considered equal to the Melodies. After making various unsuccessful attempts at serious satire, he hit upon a vein for which his light and brilliant wit eminently qualified him — the satirical and pungent verses on men and topics of the day, afterwards coll. in The Twopenny Post Bag, in which the Prince Regent especially was mercilessly ridiculed, and about the same time appeared Fables for the Holy Alliance. In 1818 he produced the Fudge Family in Paris, written in that city, which then swarmed with "groups of ridiculous English." Lalla Rookh, with its gorgeous descriptions of Eastern scenes and manners, had appeared in the previous year with great applause. In 1818 the great misfortune of his life occurred through the dishonesty of his deputy in Bermuda, which involved him in a loss of £6000, and necessitated his going abroad. He travelled in Italy with Lord John Russell, and visited Byron. Thereafter he settled for a year or two in Paris, where he wrote The Loves of the Angels (1823). On the death of Byron his memoirs came into the hands of Moore, who, in the exercise of a discretion committed to him, destroyed them. He afterwards wrote a Life of Byron (1830), which gave rise to much criticism and controversy, and he also ed. his works. His last imaginative work was The Epicurean (1827). Thereafter he confined himself almost entirely to prose, and pub. Lives of Sheridan (1827), and Lord Edward Fitzgerald (1831). His last work, written in failing health, was a History of Ireland for Lardner's Cabinet Cyclopædia, which had little merit. Few poets have ever enjoyed greater popularity with the public, or the friendship of more men distinguished page 278in all departments of life. This latter was largely owing to his brilliant social qualities, but his genuine and independent character had also a large share in it. He left behind him a mass of correspondence and autobiographical matter which he committed to his friend Lord John (afterwards Earl) Russell for publication. They appeared in 8 vols. (1852-56).

Memoir, Journal, and Correspondence, by Lord John Russell (1856).