Page:The Maclise Portrait-Gallery.djvu/55

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23
THOMAS MOORE.

love, and mirth, exert their soft influence to gladden the life of man, even so long will the Teian bard, who was even then an ancient when Horace wrote—

"Nec si quid olini lusit Anacreon
 Delevit ætas"—

be immortal on the earth; and thus the version of Moore, which though possibly deficient in scholarship, was yet found sufficiently symphonious with the old Greek spirit of the original to be pretty generally read and admired.[1] His patron. Lord Moira, had made him known to the Prince Regent, and induced that much-maligned man to subscribe to the book, and accept the dedication. By the joint influence of the two, under Addington's administration in 1803, Moore obtained the appointment to a snug sinecure,—or the next thing to it,—of some £400 a year nett, as Registrar to the Admiralty Court of Bermuda. He enjoyed this office for fifteen years, a deputy doing what real work it involved. At the close of this period Moore, who seemed to have forgotten alike the deputy and the office, was disagreeably reminded of his responsibilities by an application for the reimbursement of the proceeds of certain sales,—say some £2000,—which had been embezzled by his subordinate. Moore might easily have paid the money,—or the smaller amount to which it was commuted—as he was in the receipt of large sums from his publishers, who, indeed, offered to advance the whole amount; but he preferred to take sanctuary at Holyrood House to escape from immediate arrest, and next proceeded to Paris, where, in happy oblivion of his liabilities, he lived for a time a Capuan life of gaiety and enjoyment.

In 1806 had been published his Odes and Epistles, in which he recorded his observations on American society and manners, made on a hasty visit to the United States in 1804, on the occasion of his voyage to Bermuda to assume his appointment. These lyrics, the prose preface to which is admirably written, are sparkling with that witty and graceful ease which the poet made his own, but are deservedly branded by Jeffrey for that frequent indecency, which, conspicuous in the "Tales" of Prior,—between whom and Moore so many points of poetical resemblance may be traced,—has escaped the reprehension of so stern a moralist as Dr. Johnson, and not prevented laudatory mention of that poet on his monument in Westminster Abbey. Possibly the evil is exaggerated; any way it seems inherent in this manner of verse. There is an old alliance between the daughters of Mnemosyne and the winged son of Cytheræa. It was the boast of Horace that he sang—

"Liberum, et Musas, Veneremque et ilii
 Semper hærentem puerum"—

and the licentiousness of thought and expression that here and there mars the exquisite polish of his " Odes," may be traced through the "Juvenilia" of Beza, the "Basia" of Secundus, the "Pancharis" of Bonnefonius, the "Chansons" of Béranger, and the " Songs " of Burns, down to the amatory effusions of "Thomas Little," some of which, as the offspring of—


  1. A lovely edition of Moore's version was published by the late John Camden Hotten, in 1869, "with fifty-four illustrative designs by Girodet de Roussy." These exquisite drawings originally accompanied a French translation of the odes of Anacreon, made by the artist himself, and published in France shortly after his death.