Thomas Moore

From An Illustrated History of Ireland by Margaret Anne Cusack

« start... Chapter XXXV. ...continued

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So much space has been given to Burke, that it only remains to add a few brief words of the other brilliant stars, who fled across the Channel in the vain pursuit of English patronage—in the vain hope of finding in a free country the liberty to ascend higher than the rulers of that free country permitted in their own.

Moore was born in the year 1780, in the city of Dublin. His father was in trade, a fact which he had the manliness to acknowledge whenever such acknowledgment was necessary. He was educated for the bar, which was just then opened for the first time to the majority of the nation, so long governed, or misgoverned, by laws which they were neither permitted to make or to administer. His poetical talents were early manifested, and his first attempts were in the service of those who are termed patriots or rebels, as the speaker's opinion varies. That he loved liberty and admired liberators can scarcely be doubted, since even later in life he used to boast of his introduction to Thomas Jefferson, while in America, exclaiming: "I had the honour of shaking hands with the man who drew up the Declaration of American Independence."

His countryman, Sheridan introduced him to the Prince of Wales. His Royal Highness inquired courteously if he was the son of a certain baronet of the same name. "No, your Royal Highness," replied Moore; "I am the son of a Dublin grocer." He commenced writing his immortal Melodies in 1807, soon after his marriage. But he by no means confined himself to such subjects. With that keen sense of humour, almost inseparable from, and generally proportionate to, the most exquisite sensibility of feeling, he caught the salient points of controversy in his day, and no doubt contributed not a little to the obtaining of Catholic Emancipation by the telling satires which he poured forth on its opposers. His reflections, addresed to the Quarterly Review, who recommended an increase of the Church Establishment as the grand panacea of Irish ills, might not be an inappropriate subject of consideration at the present moment. It commences thus:

"I'm quite of your mind: though these Pats cry aloud,
That they've got too much Church, tis all nonsense and stuff;
For Church is like love, of which Figaro vowed,
That even too much of it's not quite enough."

Nor was his letter to the Duke of Newcastle, who was an obstinate opposer of Catholic Emancipation, less witty, or less in point at the present time, for the Lords would not emancipate, whatever the Commons might do:

"While intellect, 'mongst high and low,
Is hastening on, they say,
Give me the dukes and lords, who go,
Like crabs, the other way."

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