Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Moore, John (1729-1802)

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MOORE, JOHN, M.D. (1729–1802), physician and man of letters, was the second child and eldest son of Charles Moore of the family of Rowallan (letter in the Caldwell Papers}, a presbyterian minister, and his wife Marion, daughter of John Anderson of Glasgow. He was born at Stirling in 1729, and was there baptised on 7 Dec. On her husband's death in 1737, his mother went to live in Glasgow, where, after education at the grammar school, he matriculated at the university. He was at the same time apprenticed to John Gordon, a surgeon in large practice, the surgical instructor of Smollett. Besides attending the medical courses, Moore devoted himself to literature, history, and philosophy. In 1747, having concluded his apprenticeship, he was made surgeon's mate in the Duke of Argyll's regiment, and his first service was at Maestricht, where the hospitals were filled with the wounded of the battle of Laffeldt. Mr. Middleton, the director-general of military hospitals, recommended him to George Keppel, third earl of Albemarle [q. v.], colonel of the Coldstream guards, and he became assistant to the surgeon of that regiment, attended its numerous sick at Flushing, and went into winter quarters at Breda in 1748 under General Braddock, with whom he returned to England when peace was made in the spring. He attended the lectures of Dr. William Hunter and then went to Paris with William Fordyce [q. v.] to continue his studies. He called on the Earl of Albemarle, then British ambassador, and was appointed surgeon to his household. This office introduced him to interesting society at the embassy, but with Fordyce he worked hard at the hospitals. In the summer of 1750 when Smollett came to Paris they visited St. Cloud and Versailles together. In 1751 Gordon, his former teacher, invited him to become his partner in Glasgow. He agreed, but on his way back attended another course of Dr. William Hunter's lectures in London, and a course on midwifery by Dr. William Smellie [q.v.] For two years he practised in Glasgow with Gordon and then with Hamilton, the professor of anatomy. He married in 1757 Miss Simson, daughter of the professor of divinity in the university. In 1769 he attended James George, seventh duke of Hamilton, who died of phthisis in his fifteenth year. Moore wrote his epitaph in English verse, and the duchess placed her other son, Douglas, the eighth duke, under his care. In 1770 he graduated M.D. in the university of Glasgow, and in 1772 gave up practice and started with the duke for five years' travel on the continent. They returned to England in 1778 and remained friends for life. Moore took a house in Clarges Street, London, and had some medical practice. He published in 1779 'A View of Society and Manners in France, Switzerland, and Germany,' and in 1781 'A View of Society and Manners in Italy,' each in two volumes. A Dublin edition, in the usual Irish small octavo of that period, was published immediately after each, with the difference that the work on Italy was in three volumes. Several other editions followed. The contents of the volumes are arranged in a series of letters, and relate in a pleasant style the observations of his travels with the Duke of Hamilton. After seventeen letters from Paris, he describes Switzerland and then Germany, Bohemia, and Austria. He visited Voltaire at Ferney, and heard him talk on the Scots in France, on the ancient earls of Douglas, and on Robertson and Hume. At Berlin he had a share in a conversation with Frederick the Great (View, 4th ed. p. 166), who asked him about the American war and made a sarcastic remark on the retreat from Boston, when Moore explained that it was strategic. The travellers are starting for Venice at. the end of the first work. The second begins with twenty-two letters on Venice, and then describes Padua, Ferrara, Bologna, and other cities on the way to Rome. After several letters from Naples, their return journey is described. At Florence he often saw Prince Charles Edward Stuart.

These volumes obtained Moore considerable reputation. On 30 May 1784 he met Dr. Johnson, and has recorded the conversation in his preface to an edition of Smollett's works. He moved to Clifford Street, and in 1786 published 'Medical Sketches,' in two parts. The first part is physiological, and its most original remarks are on the reflection and impressions from one nerve to another, illustrated by the fact that eating ice-creams gives a pain in the root of the nose. The effects of temporary pressure on the surface of a brain exposed by trephining are described from actual observation on a Parisian mendicant. The second part treats with no great clearness of several varieties of fever.

In 1786 Moore published his first novel, 'Zeluco : various Views of Human Nature, taken from Life and Manners, Foreign and Domestic,' in two volumes. The hero is a Sicilian, brought up without restraint, who begins by squeezing a pet sparrow to death, and who, after a selfish career, dies of a wound received in a duel. 'Tracing the windings of vice and delineating the disgusting features of villany are unpleasant tasks, and some people cannot bear to contemplate such a picture. It is fair, therefore, to warn readers of this turn of mind not to peruse the story of Zeluco.' The author's warning was disregarded, and several editions appeared in England and in Ireland, as well as a French translation (Paris, 1796, 4 vols. 1 2mo). The best passages are those describing the convivial meetings and the quarrels of Buchanan, a low-lander, and Targe, a highlander. In the preface to ' Childe Harold' Byron says that he meant to make his hero 'perhaps a poetical Zeluco.' A visit to Glasgow in 1786 folio wed the publication of 'Zeluco.' Moore stayed at Hamilton Palace, and wrote a poetical epistle on the scenery of the Clyde. Burns wrote to him, and he replied, 23 Jan. 1787, from Clifford Street, London (Anderson, Life of Moore, pp. xvii-xix). They corresponded for some time, and he sent Burns his 'View of Society and Manners,' and expressed warm admiration of 'Halloween.' He associated a good deal with the new whigs. William Smith [q.v.] entertained him at Parndon, Essex, where he talked with enthusiasm of his soldier son (letter in the possession of the late Miss Julia Smith). In 1792 he went to France with the Earl of Lauderdale, and saw in Paris the disturbances of 10 Aug. and the massacres of 29 Sept, He then left Paris, but returned thither from Calais on 10 Oct. and stayed till 5 Dec., when he left for England. In 1793 he published the first volume of an account of this journey, entitled 'A Journal during a Residence in France from the beginning of August to the middle of December 1792,' and the second volume in 1794. The narrative is a simple and obviously exact account of what he saw, and is often quoted by Carlyle in his 'French Revolution.' In 1795 he published 'A View of the Causes and Progress of the French Revolution,' in two volumes, dedicated to the Duke of Devonshire. His second novel, 'Edward; various Views of Human Nature, taken from Life and Manners, chiefly in England,' in two volumes, appeared in 1796, and is intended to illustrate the admirable side of human nature, the reverse of 'Zeluco.' It is a book altogether wanting in life, but Burns was pleased to be quoted in it (letter to Mrs. Dunlop, 12 Jan. 1796). In 1797 he wrote an interesting biography of Smollett, who had been both a friend and a patient of his, in 'The Works of Tobias Smollett with Memoirs of his Life, to which is prefixed a View of the Commencement and Progress of Romance.' In 1800 he published a third novel, 'Mordaunt: Sketches of Life, Character, and Manners in various Countries, including the Memoirs of a French Lady of Quality,' in three volumes, which is as dull as 'Edward.' His health was broken, and he went to live at Richmond, Surrey, for country air, and there died on 21 Jan. 1802. His wife survived him and died in London on 25 March 1820. He had one daughter and five sons: John (1761-1809) [q. v.], the general; James [q. v.], a surgeon; Graham [q. v.], an admiral; Francis, who was in the war office; and Charles, a barrister.

Moore was sagacious as a physician, and throughout life had intense enjoyment in general observation, and in every kind of good literature and good society. He was universally liked, and most of all in his own house. He had a well-built frame and regular features. Sir Thomas Lawrence painted his portrait; and there was another portrait of him with the eighth Duke of Hamilton and Sir John Moore, by Gavin Hamilton, at Hamilton Palace (cf. Cat. Scottish National Portrait Gallery), an engraving from which is the frontispiece of Dr. Anderson's 'Life.' An engraving from an original drawing of his head, by W. Lock, is the frontispiece of 'Mooriana; or Selections from the Moral, Philosophical, and Miscellaneous Works of Dr. John Moore, by Rev. F. Prevost and F. Blagdon,' London, 1803. This sketch has also been separately engraved. Lawrence's portrait has been engraved in mezzotint.

[Dr. Robert Anderson's Life of John Moore, Edinburgh, 1820; William Mure's Selections from the Family Papers at Caldwell, Glasgow, 1854; Biography prefixed to Mooriana, 1803; Gent. Mag. 1802, i. 277; Chalmers's Biog. Dict. xxii. 315-318; Works of Robert Burns, with his Life by Allan Cunningham, London, 1834, vii. 119, 294, 306; Works.]

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