Thomas Moore: Commentary

Anonymous: ‘Of all the impudent productions that have every been intruded on the patience of the public [none] has exceeded The Travels of an Irish Gentleman in Search of Religion [...] It is a finished specimen of the most finished and most abominable superstition on Earth - Popery.’ (Review of 7 July 1833; quoted in Patrick Rafroidi, Irish Literature in English, The Romantic Period, 1789-1850, Vol 1, Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1980, p.17; also in Rafroidi, ‘Thomas Moore: Towards a Reassessment?’, Irish Literature and Culture, ed. Michael Kenneally, Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1992, pp.55-62, p.59.)

William Hazlitt said that there is little to hope from the Irish in literature if Moore’s airs ‘do indeed express the soul of impassioned feeling in his countrymen’. (Quoted in A. N. Jeffares, Anglo-Irish Literature, Macmillan 1982, p.103; cited in Naomi Doak, MADip. CA Essay 2002-03; see longer extracts, infra.)


George Henry Supple, History of the Invasion of Ireland by the Anglo-Normans (Dublin: W. M. Hennessy, Crow St. 1856): ‘Mr. Moore in his History speaks of the capture of Slane Castle as a surprise; I know not on what authority, for I can [193] find none for it in the original accounts. If it is only a surprise, the garrison of the three neighbouring castles would have no occasion to abandon them the next morning before they were assailed. The assertion is in keeping, however, with the the writer’s habit of bestowing a discoloring gloss on any successes of his countrymen. Mr. Moore, the English pensioner, was a very different individual from Thomas Moore the Irish bard.‘ ’ (pp.193-94.)

John Betjeman: ‘I can but regard you neglected and poor, / Dead Bard of my childhood, melliflous Moore, / That far from the land which of all you loved best, / In a village of England your bones should have rest.’ (Quoted in John Minihan, An Unweaving of Rainbows: Images of Irish Writers, Souvenir Press 1998, Introduction, p.11 - also citing on Byron’s sentence inscribed on the Celtic Cross that stands on Moore’s grave: ‘The poet of all circles and idol of his own.’)

Older & Contemporary
James Hardiman
Samuel Ferguson
William Maginn
William Hazlitt
D. F. McCarthy
Lord Byron
Edgar Allen Poe
Margaret Ann Cusack
C. Litton Falkiner
W. B. Yeats
John Eglinton
Stephen Gwynn
Padraic Colum
Patrick Kavanagh
Benedict Kiely
Academic Critics
Seán Ó Baoil
Mark Storey
W. J. McCormack
Brian Girvin
Fergus O’Ferrall
Thomas Kinsella
Seamus Deane
Micheál Ó Suilleabháin
Liam de Paor
Mary H. Thuente
Robert Welch
Michael Cronin
Kate Trumpener
Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill
George O’Brien
Emer Nolan
Fintan O’Toole
Claire Connolly
John Barrell

See William Hazlitt, “Mr. T. Moore - Mr. Leigh Hunt”, in Spirit of the Age (1825) - attached.

See also remarks of J. M. Synge’s Aran-island acquaintance on the poor translations that MacHale made of Moore’s Melodies under MacHale, supra.

William Carleton: ‘I had the honour and pleasure of knowing the great poet personally - well and closely did I study his features. I have heard him sing his own songs accompanied by himself on the piano; and at the conclusion of each song there was uniformly an upturning of the eyes, which flashed and sparkled with such a radiance of inspiration as I never witnessed before nor ever expect to witness again. Whether John Hogan ever saw Thomas Moore or not I cannot say but this I can say, that the model which he conceived and executed for his monument would have given Moore to the world in the very fervour of inspiration with which he usually concluded his own song.’ Carleton later dismissed the statue by Christopher Moore which was preferred to it and erected on College Street as ‘one of the vilest jobs that ever disgraced the country, such a stupid abomination as has made the whole kingdom blush with indignation and shame.’ (See Benedict Kiely, Poor Scholar: A Study of [...] William Carleton, 1947; rep. 1972, p.150.)

Patrick Kavanagh: “A Wreath for Tom Moore’s Statue”: ‘The cowardice of Ireland is in his statue, / No poet’s honoured when they wreathe this stone, / An old shopkeeper who has dealt in the marrow-bone / Of his neighbours looks at you. / Dim-eyed, degenerate, he is admiring his god, / The bank-manager who pays his monthly confession, / The tedious narrative of a mediocrity’s passion, / The shallow, safe sins that never become a flood / To sweep themselves away. From under / His coat-lapels the vermin creep as Joyce / Noted in passing on his exile’s way. / In the wreathing of this stone now I wonder / If there is not somehow the worship of the lice / That crawl upon the seven-deadened clay. // They put a wreath upon the dead / For the dead will wear the cap of any racket, / The corpse will not put his elbows through his jacket / Or contradict the words some liar has said. / The corpse can be fitted out to deceive - / Fake thoughts, fake love, fake ideal, / And rogues can sell its guaranteed appeal, / Guaranteed to work and never come alive. / The poet would not stay poetical / And his humility was far from being pliable, / Voluptuary to-morrow, to-day ascetical, / His morning gentleness was the evening’s rage. / But here we give you death, the old reliable / Whose white blood cannot blot the respectable page.’ (Collected Poems, London: MacGibbon & Kee 1964, 1968, p.85.)

See Brendan Kennelly’s commentary in ‘Patrick Kavanagh’, Ariel (July 1970): ‘[...] in that very powerful poem, “A Wreath for Tom Moore’s Statue”, Moore is Ireland’s so-called National Poet, but in comparison with Kavanagh, he is a poor pop-singer, a facile gaudy entertainer. In one savage line, Kavanagh endows Moore with an immortality of shame: The cowardice of Ireland is in his Statue. But, towards the end of the poem, there is a note of hope. Salvation lies in expressed wonder: “But hope! the poet comes again to build / A new city high above lust and logic, / The trucks of language overflow and magic / At every turn of the living road is spilled. (Rep. in Sean Lucy, ed., Irish Poetry in English, Cork: Mercier 1973; here p.171.)

Eavan Boland, “Fond Memory”: ‘on the top floor of a building on a fogbound English afternoon / where sometimes in the late afternoon / at a piano pushed into a corner of the playroomd / my father would sit down and play the slow // lilts of Tom Moore while I stood there trying / not to weep a the cigarette smoke stinging up / from between his fingers and - as much as I could think - // I though this is my country, was, will be again, / this upward straining song made to be / our safe inventory of pain. And I was wrong.’ (Quoted in Bridget O’Toole, review of Object Lessons [inter al.], in Books Ireland, Dec. 2006, p.283.)

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James Hardiman: ‘The vulgar ballads, composed in English, during the last 150 years, are a disgrace to our sweet and simple melodies, to which they have been so cruelly and unnaturally united. This trast which modern collectors have dignified with the title of “National Irish Song!!!” displaced the native lyrics so effectually, that the memory of the originals was soon wholly erased in Anglicised parts of Ireland. [...] it is considered hardly necessary here to state, what every reader is already aware of, that Mr. Moore’s words to our “Irish Melodies” form a splendid exception to the foregoing general censure. [...; &c.]’ (Irish Minstrelsy, 1831; IUP rep. edn. 1971, p.lxxvii, ftn.) [Hardiman’s Introduction to Irish Minstrelsy (1831) is held in Library, “Irish Classics”, infra.]

Samuel Ferguson, ‘Hardiman’s Irish Minstrelsy’, in Dublin Univ. Mag., IV, XX, Aug. 1834, pp.152-67; rep. in Mark Storey, ed., Poetry and Ireland Since 1800, Routledge 1988, pp.35-41) - remarks on Moore: ‘Those who have known the melodies of Ireland only in association with the delightful lyrics of Moore, will, we fear, be startled to find them connected with songs so marked as these are, by all the characteristics which distinguish the productions of rude, from those of refined society. Moore’s Melodies, indeed, present a combination of the most delightful attributes of music and poetry, unattainable otherwise than by uniting the music of a rude age to the poetry of a refined one. The hardships, dangers, and afflictions which must have crushed the heart of the musician before it could so shed its whole life-blood of passion into the absorbing and almost painful pathos of an Irish melody, must have been too destructive of all security to have admitted even an approach to that devoted leisure which alone could qualify a writer for success in finished poetry. The contrast between the native songs and the lyrics of Moore is indeed strangely striking - as strange as uncouthness can present in juxtaposition with politeness, but still no more than that which may be admitted to have distinguished the Merus Hibernicus, from the modern Irish gentleman. We will look in vain for the chasteness, the appositeness, the antithetical and epigrammatic point, and the measured propriety of prosody, which delight the car and the judgment, in a song by Thomas Moore, among the rude rhymes which accompanied the same notes two centuries ago; but the stamen and essence of each is interwoven and transfused through the whole texture and complexion of the other - for sentiment is the soul of song, and sentiment is one imprescriptible property of the common blood of all Irishmen. [...]’ Further, ‘ Let us no longer imagine that humour is the characteristic of the Irish. Their sentiment is pathetic. Desire is the essence of that pathos - desire, either for the possession of love unenjoyed, or for the continuance of love being enjoyed, or for the restoration of enjoyed love lost. We know no Irish song addressed to the judgment: if an Irish song fail to go to the heart at once, it fails outright. Even in the most whimsical there is some touch of sentiment, some appeal to the pathetic principle. So also in their music, as admirably exemplified by Mr Moore in his dedication of the first number of the Melodies, where, alluding to the characteristic introduction of a flat third, he draws the same inference from its effect in harmony, which we would deduce from the presence when least expected of some pathetic allusion in the lyric composition of some of their most extravagantly humorous rhymes […]’ (pp.37-40.)

William Hazlitt, “Mr. T. Moore - Mr. Leigh Hunt”, in Spirit of the Age (1825): Mr. Moore’s strictest economy is “wasteful and superfluous excess:” he is always liberal, and never at a loss; for sooner than not stimulate and delight the reader, he is willing to be tawdry, or superficial, or common-place. [...] It has been too much our author’s object to pander to the artificial taste of the age; and his productions, however brilliant and agreeable, are in consequence somewhat meretricious and effeminate. [...] The craving of the public mind after novelty and effect is a false and uneasy appetite that must be pampered with fine words at every step - we must be tickled with sound, startled with shew, and relieved by the importunate, uninterrupted display of fancy and verbal tinsel as much as possible from the fatigue of thought or shock of feeling. A poem is to resemble an exhibition of fireworks, with a continual explosion of quaint figures and devices, flash after flash, that surprise for the moment, and leave no trace of light or warmth behind them. [...] There is no truth of representation, no strong internal feeling - but a continual flutter and display of affected airs and graces, like a finished coquette, who hides the want of symmetry by extravagance of dress, and the want of passion by flippant forwardness and unmeaning sentimentality. All is flimsy, all is florid to excess. His imagination may dally with insect beauties, with Rosicrucian spells; may describe a butterfly’s wing, a flower-pot, a fan: but it should not attempt to span the great outlines of nature, or keep pace with the sounding march of events, or grapple with the strong fibres of the human heart. The great becomes turgid in his hands, the pathetic insipid. [...] We cannot except the Irish Melodies from the same censure. If these national airs do indeed express the soul of impassioned feeling in his countrymen, the case of Ireland is hopeless. If these prettinesses pass for patriotism, if a country can heave from its heart’s core only these vapid, varnished sentiments, lip-deep, and let its tears of blood evaporate in an empty conceit, let it be governed as it has been. There are here no tones to waken Liberty, to console Humanity. Mr. Moore converts the wild harp of Erin into a musical snuff-box [Ftn: Compare his songs with Burns’s]! - We do except from this censure the author’s political squibs, and the “Two-penny Post-bag.” These are essences, are “nests of spicery”, bitter and sweet, honey and gall together. [...]’ [Cont.]

William Hazlitt (Spirit of the Age, 1825): cont: - ‘Mr. Moore is in private life an amiable and estimable man. The embellished and voluptuous style of his poetry, his unpretending origin, and his mignon figure soon introduced him to the notice of the great, and his gaiety, his wit, his good-humour, and many agreeable accomplishments fixed him there, the darling of his friends and the idol of fashion. If he is no longer familiar with Royalty as with his garter, the fault is not his - his adherence to his principles caused the separation - his love of his country was the cloud that intercepted the sunshine of court-favour. This is so far well. Mr. Moore vindicates his own dignity; but the sense of intrinsic worth, of wide-spread fame, and of the intimacy of the great makes him perhaps a little too fastidious and exigeant as to the pretensions of others. He has been so long accustomed to the society of Whig Lords, and so enchanted by the smile of beauty and fashion, that he really fancies himself one of the set, to which he is admitted on sufferance, and tries very unnecessarily to keep others out of it. [...] Does Mr. Moore insist on the double claim of birth and genius as a title to respectability in all advocates of the popular side - but himself? Or is he anxious to keep the pretensions of his patrician and plebeian friends quite separate, so as to be himself the only point of union, a sort of double meaning between the two? It is idle to think of setting bounds to the weakness and illusions of self-love as long as it is confined to a man’s own breast; but it ought not to be made a plea for holding back the powerful hand that is stretched out to save another struggling with the tide of popular prejudice, who has suffered shipwreck of health, fame and fortune in a common cause, and who has deserved the aid and the good wishes of all who are (on principle) embarked in the same cause by equal zeal and honesty, if not by equal talents to support and to adorn it!’ (See William Hazlitt, “Mr. T. Moore - Mr. Leigh Hunt”, in Spirit of the Age (1825) - attached.)

William Maginn: ‘It has often struck me with astonishment, that the people of Ireland should have so tamely submitted to Mr Thomas Moore’s audacity, in prefixing the title of Irish to his Melodies. That the tunes are Irish, I admit: but as for the songs, they in general have as much to do with Ireland, as with Novia Scotia. What an Irish affair for example – “Go where thy Glory waits thee”, &c.? Might not it have been sung by a cheesemonger’s daughter of High Holborn when her master’s apprentice was going in a fit of valour to list himself in the third Buffs or by any other such amatory person, as well as a Hibernian virgin? And if so, where is the Irishism of the thing at all?’ Further quotes: ‘When in death I shall recline / Bear my heart to my mistress dear; / Tell her fed upon smiles and wine.’ He continues: ‘[...] not a man of us from Carnsore-Point to Bloody Farland [sic] would give a penny a pound for smiles; and as for wine, in the name of decency, is that a Milesian beverage?’ (Magazine Miscellanies, Blackwood 1841, p.126; quoted in Patrick Rafroidi, ‘Thomas Moore: Towards a Reassessment?’, Michael Kenneally, ed., Irish Literature and Culture, Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1992, p.58.) Note that Fr. Prout derived the same song from [invented] lines of the Countess de Chateaubriand addressing Francis Ist: ‘Va ou la gloire t’invite / Et quand d’orgueil palpite / Ce coeur, qu’il pense à moi!’ (Idem.)

T. Crofton Croker, Introductory letter to Notes from the Letters of Thomas Moore to his Music Publisher (NY 1854) ‘[...] If I mistake not, the semi-musical, semi-literary connection between the late Thomas Moore and James Power (the publisher of Moore’s “Irish Melodies”) existed for thirty years. It commenced [x] so far back as 1806, and the first number of that national work appeared in Dublin, in 1807. The copyright of that number was purchased from Mr. Moore for £50; and so successful did the speculation prove to be, that Mr. Power and his brother soon afterwards entered into an agreement to pay Mr. Moore £500 per annum, for seven years, to produce in each year another number of the “Irish Melodies”, with a few single songs in addition. The particulars which led to the temporary rupture between Mr. Power, after upwards of twenty-five years of the closest professed friendship on Moore’s part, are well known to me. Power once said to me, after receiving an insulting letter from Moore - somewhat irritated by its tone - “By G - , Mr. Croker, I am his banker, bill-acceptor, and fish-agent - letter-carrier, hotel-keeper, and publisher, and now he wants to make me his shoeblack.” / Certainly, the impression conveyed by Lord John Russell’s publication [viz., The Memoirs, Journals and Correspondence of Thomas Moore (1853) is not only an ungrateful return on the part of Moore towards his steady and constant benefactor, but it is equally erroneous as to facts. [...] The circumstances to which I particularly refer, are briefly these: Moore having allowed the pecuniary debt due by him to Mr. Power, on the 1st of January, 1820, of half a crown, or 2s 6d, to creep up on the 1st of January, 1829, to the not inconsiderable sum to a tradesman, of £1,665 13s 1d, for which advances I believe Mr. Power never charged him interest, and for security, [ix] held no other than the brains of the poet - Moore having reduced this large balance due to Mr. Power, in 1832, by about a £1,000, suddenly wished to come to town for a settlement of his accounts.’ (pp.ix-x.) Croker goes on to describe the rift arising from Moore’s contention that the hiring of Sir Henry Bishop was not to be a shared expense and the final settlement by third-party arbitration of Moore’s liability in relation to his previous undertakings, with the effect of acquitting Power of any dishonest proceedings and indicting Russell of carelessness or worse in exposing the incomplete correspondence.’ [See full-text version in RICORSO Library, “Irish Classics”, via index, or direct.)

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Denis Florence McCarthy, “Ode sur Moore” [composed for the 1879 Centenary], translation-version in H. Hovelaque [professeur au Lycée Saint-Louis], Anthologie de la Littérature irlandaise des Origines au XXe siècle (Paris Libraire Delagrave 1924), Introduction: ‘Gloire à Moore, qu’elle soit éternelle la gloire que nous couronnons et consacrons ici aujourd’hui. Gloire à Moore, car il a chanté notre histoire en vers dont la douceur ne pourra jamais tomber dans l’oubli. Gloire a Moore, car il a soupire notre deuil dans une plainte de melodie divine, de sorte que nous empruntons meme a la douleur une joie passagère, en nous arrêtant longuement sur chacun de ses vers plaintifs. Gloire à Moore: dans ses chants joyeux que ni les revolutions ni le temps ne pourront jamais détruires bien qu’il s’y mêle souvent un Iéger soupir de tristesse, il chante le charme indicible et les plaisirs de sa patrie [...] Tout ce qui est brillant doit assurement se flêtrir et périr, et tout ce qui est doux perdre sa douceur suprême, avant que le monde cesse d’aimer et de chérir l’esprit et les chants, le nom et la gloire de Moore (Hovelaque, op. cit., p.364; copy in Princess Grace Irish Library, Monaco.)

Lord Byron [George Gordon], The Corsair: A Tale, ded. letter to Thomas Moore: ‘While Ireland ranks you among the firmest of her patriots - while you stand alone the first of her bards in her estimation, and Britain repeats and ratifies the decree - permit one, whose only regret, since our first acquaintance, has been the years he had lost before it commenced, to add the humble, but sincere suffrage of friendship, to the voice of more than one nation; [...] the gratification of your society; [...] ‘said among friends, I trust truly, that you are engaged in the composition of a poem whose scene will be laid in the East; none can do those scenes so much justice. The wrongs of your own country, the magnificent and fiery spirit of her sons, the beauty and feeling of her daughters, may there be found; and Collins, when he denominated his Oriental, his Irish Eclogues, was not aware how true, at least, was a part of his parallel. Your imagination will create a warmer sun, and less clouded sky; but wildness, tenderness, and originality are part of your national claim of oriental descent, to which you have already thus far proved your title more clearly than the most zealous of your country’s antiquarians [... &c.]’

Edgar Allen Poe: ‘It has been the fashion, of late days, to deny Moore imagination, while granting him Fancy – a distinction originating with Coleridge, than whom no man more fully comprehended the great powers of Moore. The fact is that the fancy of this poet so far predominates over all his other faculties, and over the fancy of all other men, as to have induced, very naturally, the idea that he is fanciful only. But there never was a greater mistake. Never was a grosser wrong done to the fame of a true poet. In the compass of the the English language I can call to mind no poem more profoundly – more wierdly imaginative, in the best sense, than the lines commencing, “I would I were by that dim lake”, which are the composition of Moore.’ (Poetic Principles, 1848; quoted in Patrick Rafroidi, ‘Thomas Moore: Towards a Reassessment?’, in Michael Kenneally, ed, Irish Literature and Culture, Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1992, p.56.)

Margaret Ann Cusack (Nun of Kenmare), Illustrated History of Ireland (2nd edn., 1868) - Chap. I: ‘The study of Celtic literature, which is daily becoming of increased importance to the philologist, has proved a matter of no inconsiderable value to the Irish historian. When Moore visited [Eugene] O’Curry, and found him surrounded with such works as the Books of Ballymote and Lecain, the Speckled Book, the Annals of the Four Masters, and other treasures of Gaedhilic lore, he turned to Dr. Petrie, and exclaimed: “These large tomes could not have been written by fools or for any foolish purpose. I never knew anything about them before, and I had no right to have undertaken the History of Ireland.” His publishers, who had less scruples, or more utilitarian views, insisted on the completion of his task. Whatever their motives may have been, we may thank them for the result. Though Moore’s history cannot now be quoted as an authority, it accomplished its work for the time, and promoted an interest in the history of one of the most ancient nations of the human race.’ (See further under Eugene O’Curry, infra.)

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Richard Garnett, ‘Thomas Moore’, in Dictionary of National Biography, ed. Sir. Leslie Stephen (OUP 1894) [...] In the following year (1807) Moore entered upon the path in which he found his truest title to remembrance, and which at the same time procured him for many years a considerable income, by the publication of his Irish Melodies, with music by Sir John Stevenson. They were issued at irregular intervals in ten numbers, each containing twelve songs, except the last, which contained fourteen; and the publication did not cease until 1834. For each of these songs Moore received a hundred guineas, £12,810 in all, or at the rate of £500 a year, and the undertaking was as satisfactory to the publisher as to himself. What was of still more importance, it provided him with a solid basis for his reputation by making him the national lyrist of Ireland, a character which, notwithstanding the numerous charges which may justly be brought against his “Irish Melodies,” on the ground both of false poetry and false patriotism, he must retain until some one arises to deprive him of it. Better isolated pieces have no doubt been written by some of his successors, but he, and he alone, has produced an imposing body of national song; nor have his fancy, melody, and pathos, on the whole, been yet equalled by any competitor. It is remarkable that while beginning to produce this airy music he should at the same time have been writing three heavy and ineffective satires — “Corruption” and “Intolerance” (1808), and “The Sceptic” (1809) — which fell very flat. He had not yet discovered the proper vehicle for his satiric power, but he was soon to do so. In 1811 the Prince of Wales became regent, and it speedily appeared that he had no intention of fulfilling the hopes which his constant support of the opposition during his father’s government had excited among the supporters of Catholic emancipation. / Moore himself was too deeply committed to the cause of Irish patriotism to accept anything from a reactionary court, but his virtue was exposed to no trial, for Lord Moira, the only one of his patrons who had not utterly broken with the regent, accepted the governor-generalship of India, whither Moore could not accompany him. [...; quoted on the History Home website online; for full text, see attached.]

C. Litton Falkiner, ed., Poetry of Thomas Moore (London: Macmillan 1903), Introduction: Falkiner makes reference to the marvellous success of Moore, ‘a youth ... of humble origin and of Irish birth’ (p.xi) without any further reflection on the influence of his Irish provenance. (idem.), assigning the rapidity of his rise to his ‘talents as a musician’ and ‘attractive personality’ and [xi] ‘extraordinary social talents’ which ‘won him his way into the most exclusive coteries of London long before the poems which are his chief title to fame had been written.’ (p.xi-xii.). Further: ‘In such set pieces as Corruption, Intolerance, and The Sceptic, in which he assumed the role of the heavy father, Moore attempted a part quite unsuited to his powers.’ (p.xvi.)

C. Litton Falkiner (Poetry of Thomas Moore, 1903) - cont.: ‘In the introduction to the fourth volume of his complete works, he concludes his account of the Melodies by styling the “the only work of my pen, as I very sincerely believe, whose fame (thanks to the sweet music in which it is embalmed) may boast a chance of prolonging its existence to a day much beyond our own.” And in “Dear Harp of My Country”” he has given poetical expression to the same sentiments: ‘I was but as the wind, passing heedlessly over, / And all the wild sweetness I waked was thy own.” / the generous modesty with which Moore is thus content to ascribe the fame of the Melodies to their music is unjust to their merit as poetry. It is true, iindeed, that those who only know these songs in association with the airs to which they are set will sometimes find a difficulty in appreciating their value considered simply as poems, so exquisitely intimate is their union of music and poetry. The music lingers in the memory and dominates the impression which the words alone should produce. The very success with which the poet subordinates his songs [xix] to their setting militates against the appreciation of their poetic merit. Those, however, who read the Melodies simply as verse, will find in them both the impulse and the form of genuine poetry. (pp.xix-xx.) [Cont.]

C. Litton Falkiner (Poetry of Thomas Moore, 1903) - cont.: ‘Though not all of the Melodies derive their inspiration from patriotism it may fairly be said upon the whole that what gives to these poems their chief distinction is their note of simple, sincere, and natural patriotism. This sentiment of patriotism is [xx] a note as real and distinctive in the poems as the note of Celtic melancholy in the music of the Melodies. Not merely do they suply in their musical setting the most successful example which poetry can present of the happy union of national song with national sentiment, but they breathe in every line that genuine love of fatherland whcih appears to eveyr irish nature, and which acocunts for the affection with which, all the world over, Moore is hailed by men of Irish blood as peculiarly the laureate of Erin. Not that Moore was at any time a patriot in the political sense. He was indeed the early friend of Robert Emmet, and there is no more winning trait in his character than his constant devotion to the memory of the friend whose fate inspired at least three of his most touching lyrics. Moore wa also at all times the energetic champion of the rights of a creed which, however lightly it may have sat on him, he remained true to the end. Friend as he was to the Whig leaders, whose support and favour were all his life long almost a vital element in his worldly prosperity, he did not hesitate to turn on them when they seemed to be false to their profession of solicitude for Ireland. It was anger at the desertion of the cause of Catholic Emancipation by the colleagues of Fox that drew from him that witty satire on the Whigs, already quoted, which redeems from worthlessness [xxi] his otherwise turgid poem “Corruption”. And it further illustrates the depth of Moore’s political feelings, that the only instances in which the arrows of his satirical wit ever seem to be poisoned by vindictiveness are those with which he assailed Castlereagh as the author of the Union. In other respects Moore’s patriotism is singularly pure, singularly unsullied by personalities. [...].’ (pp.xxi-ii.) [For longer extracts, see attached.]

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W. B. Yeats (“Modern Irish Poetry” [1904 version]): ‘Nor did the coming with the new century of the fame of Moore set the balance even, for his Irish melodies are too often artificial and mechanical in their style when separated from the music that gave them wings. Whatever he had of high poetry is in “The Light of Other Days”, and in “At the Mid Hour of Night”, which express what Matthew Arnold has taught us to call “the Celtic melancholy”, with so much of delicate beauty in the meaning and in the wavering or steady rhythm that one knows not where to find their like in literature. His more artificial and mechanical verse, because of the ancient music that makes it seem natural and vivid, and because it has remembered so many beloved names and events and places, has had the influence which might have belonged to these exquisite verses had he written none but these.’ (Introduction [‘Modern Irish Poetry’], A Book of Irish Verse Selected from Modern Writers, Methuen [another edn. 1920], rep. as “Modern Irish Poetry”, in Justin McCarthy, gen. ed., Irish Literature, 1904, Vol. III, pp.vii-xiii; p.viii; quoted [in part] in Roger McHugh, Anglo-Irish Poetry 1700-1850, Dublin: Wolfhound Press 1982, p.171.) Note that Yeats solely reprints the poems of Moore that he mentions here in his anthology.

W. B. Yeats: ‘The Irish books in those reading rooms should be before all else [...] the books that feed the imagination. They should include Moore’s Melodies.’ ( ‘The Young Ireland League’, in United Ireland, 3 Oct. 1891; rep in John Frayne, Uncollected Prose, Vol. I, 1970, p.208.) Further: ‘Moore quenched an admirable Celtic lyricism in an artificual glitter learned from the 18th century’ (‘An Irish National Literature’, Bookman, July 1895; Frayne, op. cit., Vol. I, 1970, p.361); ‘the false coin of a glittering and noisy insincerity which Moore and the rhetoricians [...] made current in Ireland’ (‘Popular Ballad Poetry in Ireland’, in Leisure Hour, Nov. 1889; Frayne, op. cit., Vol. 1, pp.161-62; The foregoing all cited in Patrick Rafroidi, ‘Thomas Moore: Towards a Reassessment?’, Kenneally, ed, Irish Literature and Culture, Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1992, pp.55-62, p.61.)

W. B. Yeats called Moore ‘merely an incarnate social ambition’ (Wade, ed., Letters, 447). Yeats wrote to John O’Leary informing him that William Morris thought Moore underrated lately (Letters, ed., John Kelly et al., Clarendon Press 1986, p.32.) Note that Yeats did not cite Moore with ‘Davis, Mangan, Ferguson’ in “To Ireland in the Coming Times” (The Rose, 1897.)

W. B. Yeats’s Autobiographies relate that D. J. O’Donoghue was thrown out of a tombstone maker’s house for slandering Moore’s name. (‘Ireland After Parnell’, in Autobiography, p.140; cited in Frayne, 1970, p.37.) [See further under Notes, infra.]

John Eglinton, Irish Literary Portraits (London: Macmillan 1935): ‘There has only been one accepted poet of this mother-country of exiles and revenants, Thomas Moore: and it is notable that with Moore Ireland’s tragedy consists in the fact that her subordinate relation to England is part of then fixed order of things: as he put it beautifully enough: ’The emerald gem of the Western World / Is set in the crown of the stranger.’ He heard the authentic voice of Ireland in the national airs, those airs which, issuing out of old experience, seem to dissolve the very soul of a great race in lacrimae rerum - a proud and luxurious grief for which, to speak truly, the belated foreign conquest is hardly sufficient to account, and which must have been part of the original endowment of the Irish temperament. Moore himself, however, in his metrical reaction in English to this ancient influence, was almost vulgar, certainly shallow, facile and sentimental. On the whole, it cannot be said that Ireland was fortunate in the character and personality of her interpreter. It was not until nearly a century after Moore that a far finer and a greater poet than he (a man, curiously, deaf to [4] music) - and not only a poet but an indefatigable organiser and propagandist - inaugurated a hopeful literary movement, the whole Irish race, not to speak of an applauding English public, looking on with pride and encouragement.’ (Introduction, ,pp.4-5.)

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Stephen Gwynn, Thomas Moore [English Men of Letters] (London: Macmillan 1905): ‘Sudden fame, acquired with little difficulty, suffers generally a period of obscuratioin after the compelling power which attached to a man’s living personality has been removed; and from this darkness it does not always emerge. Of such splendour and subsequent eclipse, Moore’s fate might eb cited as the capital example. / The son of a petty Dublin tradesman, he found himself, almost form his first entry into the world; courted by a brilliant society, each year added to his friendships among the men who stood highest in literature and statesmanship; and his reputation on the Continent was surpassed only by Scott and Byron. He did not live to see a reaction. Lord John Russell could write boldly in 1853: “of English lyric poets, Moore is surely the greatest.” There is perhaps no need to criticise either this attitude of excessive admiration, or that which in many cases has replaced it, of tolerant contempot. But it is as well to emphasise at the outset the fact the even to-day, more than a century after he began to publish, Moore is still one of the poets most popular and widely known throughout the [1] English speaking world. His effect on is own race at least has been durable; and if it be a fair test of a poet’s vitality to ask how much of his work could be recovered from oral tradition, there are not many who would stand better than the singer of the Irish Melodies. At least the older generation of Irishmen and Irishwomen now living have his poetry by heart.’ (pp.1-2.) [Cont.]

Stephen Gwynn (Thomas Moore, 1905) - cont.: ‘Almost without knowing it, he wrote primary for his own countrymen, and in return they honoured him, not perhaps on this side idolatry, but with a sane instinct, because he had done for Ireland, what neither Seaghan Clarach nor Raftery, nor all the bards of Munster and Connaught, could at that moment do for her. He had given a voice to Ireland; he had put into her mouth a song of her own. / Standing apart now, from the times and circumstances in which Moore wrote, we can see that what Ireland got from him was not all gain. The literature produced so profusely in the days of Young Ireland, and modelled mainly upon him, echoses only too faithfully his declamatory tone; and worse than that, it is flooded by the exuberance of sentiment, which was Moore’s besetting wekaness. Other models, and, it is to be hoped, better ones, now are rapidly replacing those of Moore and his followers; with the younger generation, even in Ireland, he has lsot his hold. But in Ireland his poetry is still as a matter of course, familiar to all Irishmen of the nationalist persuasion, young and old. And for the older men, he has lost known of his magic. To them such criticism as is found in this book will seem, one must fear, a kind of impiety and certainly of ingratitude; for they remember the days when many and many an Irish peasant, leaving his country for the New World, carried with his two books - Moore’s Melodies and the Key of Heaven. [...] Tattered and thumbed copies of his powems, broadcast through Ireland, represent better his claim to the interest of posterity than whatever comely and autographed editions may be found among the possessions of Bowod and Holland House.’ (p.190; end; see longer extracts attached or go view the full-text at Internet Archive, online.)

Stephen Gwynn, Irish Literature and Drama (1938), ‘Thomas Moore’ [Chap.]: ‘There were from the beginnings of Irish literature in English two ways of life in Ireland, and a great deal of what was written has throughout concerned itself with the fact of this duality.’ (p.31.) ‘In the Irish Melodies we get a sensitive and most accomplished master of verse interpreting the spirit of a country which had already found expression in another medium [i.e., music; ...] Ireland recognised her own spirit, and the world recognised it (...’; p.39.) ‘His Twopenny Postbag [...] must certainly be counted as a part of Irish literature, since its shafts were directed especially against the opponents of Catholic Emancipation ... Moore acknowledges he comes from an Irish Roman Catholic family in the fourteen edition.’ (p.40.) ‘It must have been through music that Moore contrive to get into intimate touch with the national spirit.’ (p.12.)

Padraic Colum (Intro., Anthology of Irish Verse, 1922): ‘Thomas Moore, a born song-writer, began to write English words to this music. Again and again the distinctive rhythms of the music forced a distinctive rhythm upon his verse. Through using the mould of the music, Moore, without being conscious of what he was doing, reproduced again and again the rhythm, and sometimes the structure of Gaelic verse. When Edgar Allen Poe read that lyric of Moore’s that begins “At the mid-hour of night”, he perceived a distinctive metrical achievement. The poem was written to an ancient Irish air, and its rhythm, like the rhythm of the song that begins “Through grief and through danger”, wavering and unemphatic, is distinctively Irish. And Moore not only reproduced the rhythm of Gaelic poetry, but sometimes he reproduced even its metrical structure.’ (See further under Colum [infra], or go to full text in RICORSO Library, “Critical Classics”, Anglo-Irish [infra].)

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Patrick Rafroidi, Irish Literature in English, The Romantic Period, 1789-1850, Vol 1 (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smyth 1980), Thomas Moore sufficiently interested in Rousseau to pay visits to Montmorency (1817), Ermenonville (Aug. 1820), and halting briefly at Les Charmettes, and transposed one his visits to the twelfth letter of The Fudge Family in Paris, illustrating the fatuousness of such tourism, “to see Montmorency - the place, which you know, / Is so famous for cherries and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.” Miss Biddy Fudge is writing to her British correspondent Miss Dorothy. In Rhymes of the Road, Extract XVI, he reflects comically on the total absence of “sense or notion / Of what the world call decency” in Rousseau’s ménage à trois at Mme de Warens’s, ‘Who would have thought this very spot/Would, one day, be a sort of shrine?’ [16]. Nevertheless, in “Portrait Gallery, No. XXIX: Th. Moore” (Dublin University Magazine, XIX, 112, April 1842, pp.476-79), the magazine was convinced that ‘with all his faults, we are proud, and we feel his country should be proud, of Moore.’ [18; for Maginn’s attack on Moore, see Maginn, q.v.] Moore’s Anacreontic ode cited as example of late eighteenth century Irish conservatism [29]. Rafroidi quotes Byron: ‘If aught in my bosom could quench for an hour / My contempt for a nation which, servile tho’ sore, / Which, tho’ trod like the worm, will not turn upon power, / ’Tis the glory of Grattan, the genius of Moore!’ (from “The Irish Avatar”)

Patrick Rafroidi, ‘Thomas Moore: Towards a Reassessment?’, Kenneally, ed, Irish Literature and Culture [CAIS Conf., Marianopolis 1988; Irish Literary Studies No. 35] (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1992), pp.55-62: Quotes Edgar Allen Poe: ‘It has been the fashion, of late days, to deny Moore imagination, while granting him Fancy – a distinction originating with Coleridge, than whom no man more fully comprehended the great powers of Moore. The fact is that the fancy of this poet so far predominates over all his other faculties, and over the fancy of all other men, as to have induced, very naturally, the idea that he is fanciful only. But there never was a greater mistake. Never was a grosser wrong done to the fame of a true poet. In the compass of the English language I can call to mind no poem more profoundly – more weirdly imaginative, in the best sense, than the lines commencing, “I would I were by that dim lake”, which are the composition of Moore. (Poetic Principles, 1848; here p.57.)

Benedict Kiely, The Poor Scholar: A Study of William Carleton (1947; Mercier Press [10th edn.] 1972): ‘In 1814 the horror of the real, actual Ireland touched Tom Moore through the melodious, sentimental rose-mist that surrounded him. Anacreon, for a while, dropped his lyre to write of creeds and politics in The Memoirs of Captain Rock, to say that the rulers of Ireland had “always proceeded in proselytism on the principle of a wedge with its wrong side foremost,” to compare the conciliatory advances of Irish Protestantism to Irish Catholicism to the words spoken by Lancelot to the young Jewess: “Be of good cheer, for truly I think thou art damned.”’ (p.65.)

Benedict Kiely, ‘Irish Potato and Attic Salt’, The Irish Bookman (November 1946), rep. in ‘A Raid into Dark Corners and Other Essays (Cork UP 1999), pp. 66-78: ‘Thomas Moore died in 1852, “fading out of life”, and according to L. A. G. Strong’s comment on Brodie’s consolatory and even cheering reflection, “far from fearing death, Moore did not know when it came to him”. It is just possible that Moore, for a similar reason, seldom feared life.’ (p.77.)

Seán Ó Baoil, ‘Irish Traditional Music’, in Michael Longley, ed., Causeway: The Arts in Ulster (1971), p.122f.: ‘His melodies were far removed fro the elemental beauty of traditional singing in the Irish language, which, even in his day, was the predominant vernacular in the whole western half of the country. Moore’s songs were nostalgic, pseudo-historical, whimsical, sentimental productions suited to the drawing rooms of the nineteenth century, and were in striking contrast wit the living Gaelic love-songs, lullabies, aislingí (vision poems), laments, drinking songs, hymns and work-songs of the Irish speaking-people. ) There is no parallel in Moore for the Gaelic songs sung at the plough [&c.]; (p.122.) ‘If Thomas Moore had been even remotely interested in the folk-poetry of his time he would never have written - to the very same tune used by the ballad-maker - the line which English critics at one time considered among the strongerest [?] in English literature - ‘At the mid-hour of night when stars are weeping I fly’. But Moore was so out of touch with the “peasantry” of his time that in all his adaptations of English words to Irish Music he never once came upon the form of Gaelic verse that was commonly used by them in their songs, and which was actually employed by his friend Byron. Byron got it from a song written by John Philpot Curran: “if sadly thinking / with spirits sinking / can more than drinking / my cares compose, / a cure for sorrow / from sighs I’d borrow / and hope tomorrow / would end my woes.’ Thomas Moore was certainly “far from the land”. He must have never have heard The Boys of Mullaghabawn [...].’ (p.123.)

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Mark Storey, Poetry and Ireland since 1800: A Source Book (1988), writes: ‘There can be no doubt about Moore’s intentions, as he spelt them out in a letter to the composer [Stevenson]; he was out to reclaim his country’s songs from the “service of foreigners. But we are come, I hope, to a better period of both politics and music; and how much they are connected, in Ireland, at least, appears too plainly in the tone of sorrow and depression which characterises most of our early songs.... The poet ... must feel and understand that rapid fluctuation of spirits, that unaccountable mixture of gloom and levity, whcih composes the character of my countrymen, and has deeply tinged their music.” (Letters of Thomas Moore, ed., W[ilfred] S. Dowden, 2 vols. Oxford 1964, Vol. 1, p.116.) Further, ‘For Moore, music was “the source of my poetic talent, since it was merely effort to translate into words the different feelings and passions whch melody seemed to me to express.”’ (Memoirs, Journals, and Correspondence of Thomas Moore, Lord John Russell, ed, London 1853, Vol. 1, p.60.)

W. J. McCormack (of Moore): ‘The faults of his verse are the inevitable birthmarks of his age and class for he was that most discontented of types, the recently liberated man who has just grasped how thoroughly his past has been enslaved.’ (Sheridan Le Fanu and Victorian Ireland, OUP 1980; rep. edn. Sutton Pub. 1997, p.11; quoted in S. Slack, ‘Thomas Moore: Irish National Poet?’, MADip. CA, UUC 2002-03.)

Brian Girvin, ‘Making Nations, O’Connell, Religion and The Creation of Political Identity’, in Daniel O’Connell, Political Pioneer, ed. M. R. O’Connell (1991), quotes Moore: ‘The Protestants fear to entrust their constitution to you, as long as you continue under the influence of the Popery; and your reason for continuing under the influence of the Pope, is that you fear to entrust your Church to the Protestants. Now I have shown, I think, in the preceding pages, that their alarm is natural, just and well-founded, while yours is unmeaning, groundless and ungenerous. It cannot, therefore, be doubted by which of you the point should be conceded.’ (A Letter to the Roman Catholics of Dublin, Dublin 1810, pamph.; here p.29.)

Fergus O’Ferrall, ‘Liberty and Catholic Politics 1790-1990’, in O’Connell, op. cit., 1991, pp.35-56, writes that Thomas Moore celebrated the link between Catholicism and ‘liberty’ [i.e., liberalism] memorably in his “The Irish Peasant to His Mistress” [viz.,] ‘Where shineth thy spirit, there liberty shineth too!’ He adopted a Gallican attitude towards independence from Rome’s influence [believing that] Catholics should “exchange the rescripts and bulls of Rome for the blessings of a free Constitution”, as he put it in his Letter to the Roman Catholics of Dublin in 1810.’ (p.45.)

Thomas Kinsella: ‘It is not necessary to make heavy weather of Moore. There is critical agreement that he was not an important poet, and Moore would join in that assessment, being a modest man. But in many minds, even still, he was Ireland’s national poet. Moore’s Melodies is possibly the most popular book ever produced in Ireland. The songs, snugly fitted to their facile and graceful airs, and full of deathless phrases, are still widely sung. Moore is probably the most successful Irish poet, in either language, that has ever lived, raching a wide audience and satisfying it, and continuing to do so. None of this popular poetry bears much scrutiny. Its grasp on actuality is slight. Its designs are on the emotions more or less to the exclusion of the intelligence. And in “Oh, Blame not the Bard!” his admissions partly forestall criticism: in the time of testing he has proved inadequate, withholding his talents from the service of the oppressed and choosing to entertain the oppressor.’ (Introduction, New Oxford Book of Irish Verse, OUP 1986, p.xxvi; quoted in Patrick Rafroidi, ‘Thomas Moore: Towards a Reassessment?’, Michael Kenneally, ed, Irish Literature and Culture, Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1992, pp.55-62, p.60.)

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Seamus Deane, ‘Moore was right to resist this separation [of verses and accompaniment in Irish Melodies, 1821 Edn.] for his poems simply do not survive it. In addition, outside Ireland they do not survive the political conditons which initially gave them their appeal.’ (A Short History of Irish Literature, Hutchinson 1986, p.64.) Note that Deane calls Moore ‘a minor poet’ but a ‘major phenomenon’ (ibid., p.65),

Seamus Deane, [gen. ed.], introduction to section on Thomas Moore, in The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry 1991), Vol. 1: ‘This infantile romanticism [of Thomas Campbell and Samuel Rogers] was more effectively exploited by Moore than by any other writer. [...] because Moore was technically superior in his handling of rhyme, rhythm and cliché. He appeals to his reader in soft imperatives: “Go where glory waits thee”. “Remember the glories”, “O! breathe not the name!”, “Say wilt thou weep”. The reader adds his or her own intensity to such appeals, and the msuic dwells on them in a mixture of rapture and pathos. Moore was a constitutional poet in that he admired rebellion in his verse and steered clear of it in his actions and in most of his prose. The past is a safer territory than the present, and Moore exploits it in eccentric fashion with the help of historians like Sylvester O’Halloran or Ferdinando Warner or antiquarians like Charles Vallancey. In that light, he too is a user of antiquarian research in the catholic cause. His satirical poem about Orange bigotry, English Tory politicians and idiot prejudice make that clear.’ (p.1054; quoted in part in Susan Slack, ‘Thomas Moore: Irish National Poet?’, MADip., UUC 2003.)

Seamus Deane, ‘The Politics of Music: Thomas Moore’, in Strange Country: Modernity and Nationhood in Irish Writing Since 1790 (Oxford 1997) [sect. of Chap. 2]: ‘[...] Moore’s Melodies, and his own placement of them in relation to national character, co-ordinates national history, national character, within a political programme for Catholic repair and renewal. [...] Thus, the disputes about Moore’s brilliantly syndicated versions of the Irish in his Melodies were inevitably political. Douglas Hyde’s verdict on Moore epitomizes the hostility to him - a hostility more marked during the Irish Revival than before or since. Moore ‘had rendered the past of Ireland sentimentally interesting without arousing the prejudices of or alarming the upper classes’ [Irish Language Movement: Some Reminiscences”, in Manchester Guardian Commercial (10 May 1923, rep. in “An Craoibhín Aoibhinn”: Language, Lore and Lyrics - Essays and Lectures, ed., Breandan Ó Conaire, Dublin: IAP 1986.] But this is an accusation that applies much more accurately to Moore the melodist than to Moore the political writer. Moore seems to have been disgusted by the servility displayed by the Irish on the occasion of George IV’s visit in 1821. Certainly for some years after his prose versions of Irish history manifest a much more acerbic view of his country’s history than do the Melodies. Moore favoured the tactic of concealment, whether in Lallah Rookh, where the disguise is ‘oriental’ or in Memoirs of Captain Rock (1824) wherein he frames within a polite narrative the fierce accents of the wild and temperamental Irish, with the well-tried device of an Editor, who is engaged on a missionary crusade in Ireland. When this Editor is given an autobiographical manuscript recounting the exploits of Captain Rock, a famous rebel leader of the ‘poor benighted Irish’, he discovers the significant detail that Rock was born on the day Father Nicholas Sheehy was judicially assassinated at Clonmel in 1776 - an incident {67} that Burke, O’Connell, and many others alluded to over the next sixty years. The significance here is that Sheehy was hanged in order to cow the Whiteboy movement into submission on the standard grounds that agrarian disturbances were disguised forms of sedition. [...] Memoirs of Captain Rock is an interesting narrative in that it recounts the history of Ireland in ironic mode, pretending that the Rock family has only been able to sustain its ancestral violence as agrarian rebels because of the co-operation of the British government’s spectacularly cruel policies. It is, in effect, a rebel view of Irish history cast within the frame of an abortive Protestant missionary attempt to convert the Irish from their wildness and Catholicism - two interdependent conditions.’ (p.67-68.) [Cont.]

Seamus Deane, ‘The Politics of Music: Thomas Moore’, in Strange Country [... &c.] (1997) - cont.: ‘For such discourse, the central organizing cultural concept was national character, as it had been evinced in history and as it was displayed in the present. Increasingly, in the first decades of the nineteenth century, national character is an enduring category of collective existence that is expressed (although really constituted) within a series of miscellaneous narratives - travel literature, the political pamphlet, the novel, collections of music and folklore, and, in Moore’s case, collections of ancient melodies, refashioned in contemporary poetic idiom, that have exchanged the wild harp for the civil pianoforte. The difficulty encountered by such discourses, although they all encounter it with varying degrees of emphasis and success, is the connection between the constitution of a national character and the development of the material circumstances that are appropriate to it or to its alteration and improvement. The assumption is that national character is independent of material conditions and yet that its full development or final extirpation is dependent on their restructuring. Obviously, the various contradictions that both bedevil and define the national character are not subject to resolution. The relation between material conditions and cultural identification is critical; generally, the view is that one or other must be altered drastically before any resolution is possible. But then that is not a resolution; it is a surgical procedure that will remove one of the two elements that, in their combination, constitute the problem and in their separation either stifle it or prolong it. Part of this issue is embedded within the very act of transmission itself, whether that be in musical notation, in type fonts, in the representation of dialect. The point is that the problem was not really altered by these newly adopted modes of transmission. They actually determined its shape - even though the problem remained as one that was understood to have had an anterior existence that was now, however imperfectly, emerging into newly communicable forms.’ (p.69; end.) [See longer extract in RICORSO Library, “Critical Classics”, via index or direct.]

Michael Ó Suilleabháin, ‘“All our central fire”: Music, Mediation, and the Irish Psyche’, in Irish Journal of Psychology, ed., A. Halliday & K. Coyle, eds., ‘The Irish Psyche’ [Special Issue] Vol. 15, Nos. 2 & 3 (1994)): ‘It is my belief that the spirit of the Irish harp was transmuted in the opening decades of the 19th century exactly at the point when the old Irish harp tradition died and the new neo-Irish instrument was born. The changes which came over the harp testify to a significant process: from itinerant to settled, rural to urban, male to female, non-literate to literate, wire strings to gut strings, fingernail technique to fingertip technique, left-hand treble to right-hand treble, right shoulder to left shoulder. This transmigration of the harp’s spirit from one triangular form to another was, it seems to me, a journey “through the looking glass”. In this way the link between the old and the new traditions was not one of evolution but of transmutation. / Thomas Moore was seminal in this process which launched the Irish harp on a journey of intense nostalgic longing for a displaced identity - a longing for what historian Liam de Paor calls “an Orient of time” (de Paor, 1989; rep. 1996 [see infra]). Moore imagines this time to be reflected in the waters of Lough Neagh. [quotes “On Lough Neagh’s bank [...] &c.”] / That image of a magic land surfacing “through the waves of time” is at once old and new in Irish tradition and the ancient mythical island of Hy Brazil is described in this way in early Irish sources. [refers to Nuala Rua Ni Dhomhnaill’s poem ‘Immram’, in Astrakhan Coat, 1992]. Further: ‘Moore is more part of literary than musical history in Ireland. The musical sound he produced simply went round in circles for more than a century until it finally fell out of fashion. It was a music which led nowhere, whereas his texts at least may be seen as linked to the increasing mediation of Irish images in the English language which occurred throughout the 19th century culminating for Yeats, as already pointed out, in Hyde’s Love Songs of Connaught. ’ (pp.33-40.)

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Liam de Paor, Tom Moore and Contemporary Ireland, Ó Riada Memorial Lecture No. 4 [Irish Traditional Music Society], UCC 1989: ‘Tom Moore is undoubtedly one of the most significant figures of the transition at the point where anglicisation was beginning to be fully effected /... the past, whether historical, literary or musical, was a quarry from which he might extract nuggets to be polished as romantic gems.’ Further:‘[...] Moore’s value to that large and increasing part of Ireland which had made its peace with the cultural values of the English-speaking world. He was outstanding among those who made the origins of native Ireland - the old cultural values - respectable. In doing so of course he distorted them.’ ( Quoted in Ó Suilleabháin, op. cit. supra, 1994, p.338-39.)

Liam De Paor [do., in], Landscapes with Figures (Dublin: Four Courts 1998), pp.68-80: ‘Moore’s gift was that he did in fact represent the sentiment, if not of Ireland at least of Irish respectability – the English-speaking aspirant middle-class coming up in the world. He was nothing so dangerous as a revolutionary or rebel but he gave an acceptable voice to expression of carefully modified regret at the suppression of Irish independence, and in the sentimental embroidery which he devised for this regret he contributed greatly to the making of the new nationalist myth. He greatly helped to reconcile Ireland to a slow modernisation by glorifying the past while making the changes to the present seem to be of the order of nature.’ (p.74.) [Cont.]

Liam De Paor (Landscapes with Figures, 1998) - cont.: ‘The pseudo-tradition, or intermediate Irish tradition, gradually lost vigour and credibility. The great changes since the Second World War have seen its virtual disappearance, and I doubt if there have been many gatherings round the piano in recent years (except occasionally in a spirit of camp) to sing the Melodies.’ (p.80.) [Given at 4th annual Ó Riada Memorial Lecture, Cork; publ. by Irish Traditional Music Society, 1989 as ‘Tom Moore and Contemporary Ireland’; present version partly based on BBC3 talk on ‘Tom Moore and Irish Nationalism’, The Listener, 11 April 1974.]

Mary Helen Thuente, ‘The Literary Significance of the United Irishmen’, Michael Kenneally, ed., Irish Literature and Culture Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1992), pp.35-62: Thuente ‘discovers; that Moore contrib. Ossianic fragment to The Northern Star (12 May 1797) and later to The Press (19 Oct., 1797), together with one other piece in The Press in 1797 (op. cit., p.53).

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Robert Welch, ‘Language and Tradition in the Nineteenth Century’ [Chap. 2], Changing States: Transformations in Modern Irish Writing (London: Routledge 1993): ‘[...] In an appendix which he wrote to Corruption and Innocence Moore expands further on the sorry state of affairs between Ireland and England, and on the historical background. An early lack of constitutional and parliamentary independence weakened moral fibre and resolve, he argues, and made Ireland a cipher: “The loss of independence very early debased our character. … It is true this island has given birth to heroes ... but success was wanting to consecrate resistance, their cause was branded with the disheartening name of treason, and their oppressed country was such a blank among nations that ... the fame of their actions was lost in the obscurity of the place where they achieved them.” (The Poetical Works of Thomas Moore, London, n.d., pp.271.) / Moore is here registering a fear that underlies much nineteenth and twentieth century Irish writing, even work of the most explicitly nationalist and defensive kind: that Ireland does not matter, that it is a “blank”, a non-place, and that being, life, vivacity are elsewhere. Further on in the appendix he outlines the entire strategy of his Irish poetry, in particular the Melodies: because the Ireland of history is a non-place, the poet is drawn to seek his images from legend or from those pristine times before the “conquerors had divided, weakened and disgraced us”, the {20} time “when our Malachies wore collars of gold”. In addition, the appendix makes the case that music and song are best equipped to convey the sense of unavailing sorrow that seems, to Moore, the predominant fact of Irish life and feeling. Such a mood can be, he argues, effective, and he cites the story of Theodosius and Antioch . The reign of Theodosius “affords the first example of a disqualifying penal code enacted by Christians against Christians”. The implication is clear, the inference all too obvious. He then tells how the people of Antioch made Theodosius relent by getting their minstrels to teach the Emperor’s own musicians the sad songs of Antioch, which they played to him at dinner. The sad songs from Asia Minor had their effect in Rome. Here, in essence, is the strategy of the Melodies in general, and of “Oh! Blame not the Bard” in particular [quoting as infra.] “Success was wanting to consecrate resistance”, he wrote, and anyone taking up Ireland’s cause is accused of treason.’ [Cont.]

Robert Welch (‘Language and Tradition in the Nineteenth Century’, 1993): ‘[The] last two lines [“Then blame not the bard, if in pleasure’s soft dream / He should try to forget what he never can heal.”] give us an indication as to where Moore ’s imagination is tending: towards the “soft dreams” of pleasure, depression, sadness, a kind of masochistic longing for an energy and vitality seen to be out of reach. “Oh! Blame not the Bard”appeared in the third number of Melodies, in 1810, and in 1817 Moore’s masterpiece, Lallah Rookh, a prolonged reverie of “soft” pleasure was published. The poem is an intensely atmospheric evocation of imagined oriental luxury, shot through with Irish references and notations, but the power of the poem resides not in the nationalist allegory that may be extracted, but in the sheer volubility of the writing, its ceaseless inventiveness, and a sad sense that all the riches that are described are illusory. An emptiness lies at the core, a “blankness” that the erotic [21] languishing of the poem tries to fill. Lallah Rookh is a kind of pornography, not without its attractions, but essentially sad and out of touch with the scenes and objects it strives to present. It is a “soft dream”. In the following extract two “lightsome maidens” dance, embodying the desire of Azim for an Arab girl who has just sung to him [quotes as infra.] / And so on. The poem is a “maze of chords”, through which the ear attempts to track a centre, a core of vision, or a cluster of associated perceptions that would vivify the work. But the writing is all activity, no life; all invention, no power.’ (pp.20-22; see full text, in RICORSO Library, “Critical Classics”, infra.)

Robert Welch, ‘Irish writing in English’, in Introduction English Studies, ed. Richard Bradford (London: Pearson Educ. 1996): ‘While the United Irishmen were mobilizing in Ireland, one of their Dublin leaders, Thomas Addis Emmet, was taken on a walk by the concerned mother of the young Thomas Moore, then a student at Trinity College, Dublin. She asked Emmet not to involve her son in military operations, a request to which he consented, leaving Moore to get on with his translations of Anacreon and his study of the Irish airs recently published in Edward Bunting’s Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland (1796) , a compilation which had, to a significant extent, been assembled at a Harper’s Festival in Belfast in 1792. However, although Moore’s actual involvement with the United Irishmen was slight – writing a few propaganda pieces in the manner of Macpherson for The Press – he remained deeply attached to their ideals of liberty and freedom of religion, and their radicalism. He revered them as types of the finest sort of Irishman, the ‘ultimi Romanorum’ he called them, and the memory of their bravery and patriotism was the initial inspiration for the famous series of Irish Melodies, which he began in 1808. These poems and songs, many of which are still greatly loved, unite a sentimental patriotism with a feeling for the sublime, the lofty, the wild, the passionate, the remote; and to this brew he infuses a quality of ready anger at injustice that has often been overlooked in the all-too-common perception of Moore as a namby-pamby snuff-box Hibernian melodist.’ (p.659; See full text, in RICORSO Library, “Critical Classics”, infra.)

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Michael Cronin, Translating Ireland: Translations, Languages, Cultures, Cork UP 1996), quotes: ‘Born of Catholic parents I had come into the world with the slave’s yoke around my neck; and it was all in vain that the fond ambition of a mother looked forward to the Bar as opening a career that might lead her son to affluence and honour.’ (“Odes of Anacreon”, in Poetical Works, Vol. 1, London: Longmans 1840, p.xv; here p.120.) Cronin further quotes Moore’s remarks on the irony that a copy of Anacreon in Greek was considered a fit offering to receive from the Pope through the intermediary hand of Dr. Troy as part of a memorial to Provost of the College.’ (p.121.)

Katie Trumpener, Bardic Nationalism: The Romantic Novel and the British Empire (Princeton UP 1997), ‘In Ireland, argues Thomas Moore in Memoirs of Captain Rock (1824), the English conquerors have deliberately cultivated their own differences from the conquered, even though this has resulted in lasting unrest’ (Moore, op. cit., pp.12-13; Trumpener, p.300 [Introduction, n.60].)

Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill: ‘There was a Republican spirit in our house, and Moore would not be allowed to be sung. Moore was West Briton.’ (See James P. Myers, ed., Writing Irish: Selected Interviews with Irish Writers from the Irish Literary Supplement, NY: Syrcause UP 1999, p.103; quoted in S. Slack, MADip CA Essay, UUC 2002-03.)

George O’Brien, review of Linda Kelly, Ireland’s Minstrel: A Life of Tom Moore - Poet, Patriot and Byron’s Friend, in The Irish Times (11. Nov. 2006), Weekend: ‘[...] Kelly’s answer is indicated in her title and subtitle. Here, however, certain imbalances suggest themselves. The title itself, for example, aligns the central fact of a geographical entity, with all the additional social and historical factors thus entailed, with the peripheral and essentially cosmetic activity of minstrelsy. This alignment is one which Moore’s career developed and exploited, of course, no doubt with the best possible intentions. But perhaps the implications of his having done so might have been probed. At one level, Moore’s performances may have been the expression of a generous, if naive, spirit. At another, they might have been the product of a gap in the market, constituting more a moment in the history of taste rather than anything credibly national. Or perhaps, the Moore phenomenon may most revealingly be seen as a distinctive episode in the annals of stage Irishness, a more clever and original act of passing than that undertaken later by American minstrelsy (in which many an Irish player participated). [...] Since so many of his songs and lyrics have Irish themes, it may not seem too much of a stretch to claim that Moore was a patriot. No doubt the cause of Ireland was dear to his heart, having come of age as he did in the 1790s and being a friend of Emmet’s. His militancy soon subsided, however, when he entered the Middle Temple to read law, and in later years he was lukewarm towards O’Connell. It’s also a little strange to read: “Protected in his childhood, Moore had never been exposed to the full extent of Irish miseries ... and he was shocked by the poverty he encountered on his travels”. This was in 1823; Moore was 44. The point is not to incriminate Moore for his lack of awareness but to bring into clearer perspective the Ireland-in-the-head he was projecting which, however well-meaning, seems to be deficient in the political self-consciousness indispensable to patriotism... [ .; &c.]’

Emer Nolan, ed. & intro., Memoirs of Captain Rock [... &c.] ( 1824), Introduction: [...] ‘The “explanation” of the phenomenon of Captain Rock [and contemporary agrarian violence in S. Ireland] offered by Moore’s text (and the style and form in which it was presented) baffled many of the expectations of the various readerships that he had already created for his work. Part history, part fiction and part satire, Memoirs of Captain Rock defies any easy generic classification. It does not feature in any of the standard critical studies of the early Irish novel, but neither do later commentators regard it as “serious” historical work. Other Catholic writers, such as the novelists John and Michael Banim of Kilkenny, struggled with the problem of how to depict Ireland within the protocols of English literary realism. In their stories, they attempt to show how the Irish could become self-disciplined and “civilized”. Moore, on the other hand, is uninterested in any “realistic” depiction of Irish peasant life, and refuses the moral panic that surrounded the issue of agrarian violence in particular. Instead, the book’s eponymous hero sketches a wholly unexpected outline of the genesis of popular disaffection in the early 1820s. Thus Moore’s text appears simply to by-pass or ignore the difficulties that early nineteenth-century Ireland evidently presented to both English and Irish writers of all kinds - difficulties particularly associated with Irish peasant culture and its notorious, supposedly incurable, inclination to endemic violence. Nor do we find here any attempt at the formal “resolution” of historical and political problems that is so marked a feature of fiction works by both Protestant and Catholic writers at this tiem. Perhaps due to its radical novelty, Moore’s act of ventriloquism, so significant in its own time, [xviii] has until recently been lost to literary history. In this text, Moore offers us not necessarily a “truer” or more informed account of popular resistance than that offered by his contemporaries, but in many ways a more suggestive one.’ (pp.xviii-ix.)

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Sean Ryder, ‘Ireland’s Difficulty, the Novelist’s Opportunity?’, review of Catholic Emancipations: Irish Fiction from Thomas Moore to James Joyce,  by Emer Nolan, in Field Day Review (2004), pp.288-95: ‘Thomas Moore saw bright prospects for the Irish novel in the nineteenth century: “Ireland bids fair to be the great mart of fiction”, he wrote in the Edinburgh Review in 1826. Unfortunately for Moore, what was good for novelists was not necessarily good for poets; as he saw it, the growth of fiction was accompanied by the desertion of “the fair springs of Poesy” across Europe, and the impossibility of creating poetry at all in Ireland in its present condition. “The same causes,” he complains, “that have embittered and degraded the history of Ireland, so as to render it incapable of furnishing any safe or worthy theme for the poet, have brought the character of its [289] people, both moral and social, to a state which is eminently favourable to the more humble aspirations of the novelist.” (Thomas Moore, ‘Irish Novels’, in Edinburgh Review, 43, 1826, pp.356-72.) This formulation of Ireland’s difficulty as the novelist’s opportunity in an intersting reversal of the famous renunciation of fiction by Maria Edgeworth, who complained that party and sectarian division made it impossible to produce fiction in Ireland in the 1820s. Moore too acknowledged that “the great concert of discord” produced by Ireland’s colonial condition, but, unlike [190] Edgeworth, believed that the results - the “inverted and unnatural” institutions, the gentry’s “vulgar arrogance”, the people’s historically induced “low, circumventing cunning” - were all valuable grist to the mill of ficiton (as opposed to poetry), and that in combination with the “lively temperament of the whole nation” there is “plenty of small game for the satirist and observer of character”. If the novelist’s role is to be a “sketcher of human nature”, then no country could provide “more original subjects for his pencil, more mixtures of lights and shadows, or more of that sort of picturesqueness, towards which (in morals as well as painting), utility and order are the last ingredients requisite.” And politics, far from being a distraction to a fiction narrative, Moore assumes to be essential to the understanding of those manners and morals. For him, the recent ficion of John and Michael Banim and other Irish authors did not transcend politics but made a necessary vehicle for them: “It is pleasant after ages of bad romance in politics, to find thus, at last, good politics in romance.”’ (Ibid, pp.358-59; here pp.289-90.) [Cont.]

Sean Ryder, ‘Ireland’s Difficulty, the Novelist’s Opportunity?’, Field Day Review (2004) - cont.: ‘Set aside the most negative assessments, of the early nineteenth-century Irish novel by previous generations of critics, one might think that Moore’s comments to be strangely utopian, misguided, or facile. At and continental Europe. At best, it is a heroic failure that simply found it impossible to represent the turbulent and recalcitrant conditions produced by a colonial history within the formal conventions of the classic realist text, what Terry Eagleton calls the “contention ... between English convention and Irish experience” (Heathcliff and the Great Hunger, 1995, p.203). This 'failure' may even have its own virtue - in so far as it confirms the value of an insurgency that disrupts English literary forms as well as colonial political and economic structures. It is commonplace to argue that these novels’ plots are incoherent or circular, constantly interrupted by digression and prolixity. The characterisations are shallow and typological rather than individualised and organic. The writing is uneven in register and voice, the moral structure is marred by political concerns. The writing may even be “duplicitous”, in the sense of calling for the rejection of native barbaric violence and superstition while in fact generating reader sympathy for those very energies of the unreformed past - like Milton, being of the devil’s party without knowing it. [... &c.]’ (p.291, col. 1.) [Cont.]

Sean Ryder, ‘Ireland’s Difficulty, the Novelist’s Opportunity?’, Field Day Review (2004) - cont.: ‘[...] Interestingly, Moore’s own benchmark for fiction did not correspond to that of the realist novel. Instead of the features of bourgeois realism - for instance, the narrative of individual progress, social improvability, harmony between the individual and society, reader identification with character, and a reduction of politics to a career option or plot device - Moore imagines the novel to be a mixture of social satire, incidental variety, character “observation” (rather than identification), all crafted into a form that has a utilitarian dimension. He assumes that political conflict and historical intrusion are part of the very fabric of the life to be represented, and therefore inescapably part of the fiction. In such writing there may be little distinction between foreground and background, characters may take on allegorical meaning, and human behaviour may be deeply shaped by collective activity and communal structures.’ / Moore's comments point to the fact that the realist novel was not the only model available to or valued by Irish novelists in the nineteenth century, and that using it as a benchmark may be severely to distort the purpose and achievement of much nineteenth-century fiction.’ (p.291; col. 2.) [Available at JSTOR online; accessed 23.02.2012.]

Fintan O’Toole, ‘Captain Rock and a hard place’, review of Captain Rock: The Irish Agrarian Rebellion of 1821-1824, by James S. Donnelly Jnr, in The Irish Times (13 Feb. 2010), Weekend Review, p.12 - writes of ‘the wave of extreme violence that swept through Munster and south Leinster between 1821 and 1824.’ Further: It had its origins in, and took its name from, a local agrarian disturbance that broke out on the 13,500-hectare estate of Viscount Courtenay in Newcastle West in Co Limerick. Courtenay, who was flamboyantly gay, lived abroad and ran up huge debts. His popular local agent was replaced by an English lawyer, Alexander Hoskins, who set about raising rents and collecting arrears. Hoskins’s 19-year-old son was attacked by seven men on the road, shot and beaten. His killers then “danced and played upon the fife for about an hour”. / In the disturbances that led up to this event, a blacksmith called Patrick Dillane distinguished himself in the art of throwing rocks at Hoskins’s hired men and was, as he later testified, “christened Captain Rock by a schoolmaster ... by pouring a glass of wine on his head”. In the campaign of terror against agents, tithe proctors, “land grabbers” and their perceived allies that gradually spread through the southwest, Captain Rock would be the name attached to the lurid threatening letters posted on so many doors. Before the fury finally abated, more than 1,000 people had been murdered, mutilated or badly beaten.’ (Further under Pastorini, q.v., and see full-text version in RICORSO Library, “Criticism > Reviews”, via index, or direct.)

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Claire Connolly, ‘Irish Romanticism, 1800-1830’, in Cambridge History of Irish Literature (Cambridge UP 2006), Vol. I [Chap. 10] - “Prose Fiction”: ‘The Second Reformation prompted angry ripostes from Catholic writers, including John Banim’s The Nowlans (discussed below) and Thomas Moore’s prose satire, Memoirs of Captain Rock (1824). Captain Rock opens with a description of a young man sent to Ireland, not by his parents (as in so many national tales), but by an English society of Protestant charitable ladies. He immediately encounters the eponymous hero, who presents him with a bundle of papers containing his life story and the history of his family; the Captain’s memoirs form the remainder of the narrative. They are narrated by an agrarian outlaw with a long family history of rebellion, and resemble Melmoth in their Gothic obsession with the effects of historical trauma. Yet Captain Rock is quite different (from Melmoth, as from almost every Irish fiction that surrounds it) in seeking to make that trauma part of a coherent narrative whole, the consequences [419] of which have been, are and always will be bruised souls, broken bodies and armed rebellion. The continuity of Irish insurgency is realised in a series of brilliant, quasi-symbolist images that illuminate a vast panorama of historical injustice, even as they disrupt the flow of the plot. Moore’s fondness for iconic images that capture and condense historical processes is ascribed by Ronan Kelly to his reading in contemporary French historiography; whatever their origin, these moments in his prose connect powerfully to his Irish Melodies and help join up different aspects of Moore’s varied literary career. His next prose fiction, Travels of an Irish Gentleman in Search of a Religion (1833), continues in satiric mode: like Captain Rock, it targets evangelical Protestantism, although this time in the changed context of post-Catholic emancipation Ireland.’ (419-20.) Note: Connolly cites Ronan Kelly, ‘Thomas Moore and Irish Historiography’, in New Voices in Irish Criticism, ed. Karen Vanderveld (Dublin: Four Courts Press 2002), pp.70-75. [For longer extract, go to RICORSO Library, “Irish Critical Classics”, via index or direct.]

Claire Connolly, ‘Irish Romanticism, 1800-1830’, in Cambridge History of Irish Literature (Cambridge UP 2006), Vol. I [Chap. 10] - “Poetry”: ‘[...] Moore had been an undergraduate at Trinity College when the rising took place. He moved thereafter to distance himself from radicals like his friend Emmet. The influence of these early connections remained, however, in particular Moore’s exposure to Edward Bunting’s General Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland (1796). Moore’s orientalist poem Lallah Rookh (1817) presents characteristic difficulties of interpretation: details borrowed from the failed Irish rebellions of 1798 and 1803 are presented against a backdrop of sexual tyranny and eastern luxury, in language calculated to heighten the poem’s exotic impact. Like Owenson’s The Missionary, Lallah Rookh is at once deeply involved with Irish debates and fully immersed in the exotics of the British imperialist imagination. The difficulty of establishing any single reading of the poem’s politics is only heightened by its popular success: written at the height of Moore’s career in London, the poem garnered him an astonishing £3,000 from Longmans and went into numerous editions. / It is with Moore’s Irish Melodies that questions of popular appeal, literary style and political meaning become most urgent. Remembered chiefly for their aestheticising of despair, the Melodies, published between 1808 and 1834, called up memories of Ireland’s past only to banish all hope of future glory. Yet, as Matthew Campbell has argued, the Melodies’ characteristic “air of defeat” and “tone of enervation” may also be read as generating symbols and sound effects that resonate through English-language poetry up to Yeats. Campbell’s [435] reading of the Melodies establishes that, although often associated with a kind of bland poise, movement does occur in the poems, principally experienced at the level of sound and rhythm’ [Matthew Campbell, ‘Tom Moore’s Wild Song: the 1821 Melodies’, in Bullán: A Journal of Irish Studies, 4 2, 2000, pp.83-103]. (Cont.)

Claire Connolly (‘Irish Romanticism, 1800-1830’ (2006), “Poetry” [sect.]- cont.: ‘Moore’s Irish Melodies recast the Romantic myth of inexpressibility to political ends. This is most powerfully the case in his poem ‘Oh! Breathe not his name’, which (silently, namelessly) invokes the memory of recently executed rebel leader Robert Emmet. Emmet’s Dublin-centred rebellion of 1803 had been limited, short-lived and disastrous, but Moore’s poem suggests a more profound meaning for Emmet’s legacy even as it enjoins silence on its inheritors. The dates, names and events associated with the rebellions of 1798 and 1803 are often, for the Melodies, where readers can trace specific details of Irish history. “Oh! Breathe not his name” creates a network of watery images (dew, tears, dampness) to create a kind of swell that surges through the poem: And the tear that we shed, though in secret it rolls, / Shall long keep his memory green in our souls.’ The dynamic present in the Emmet poem, in which the vital living past washes over and begins to seep through the frozen surface of the present, is most vividly present in the first number of Moore’s Melodies but occurs across the series, combining with repeated sonic patterns and image sequences to give the poems their distinctive atmosphere.’ (Cont.)

Claire Connolly (‘Irish Romanticism, 1800-1830’ (2006), “Poetry” [sect.]- cont.: [...] The greatest number of Moore’s satires, however, are written in loose anapaests and correspond to gentler Horatian models: these include several squibs attacking the Prince Regent as well as his Intercepted Letters: Or, The Two Penny Post-Bag (1813), a witty and inventive attack on the Regent’s social circle. Moore’s ability to infuse verse satire with a strong narrative thread is best seen in his Fudge Family in Paris (1818). Organised around a linked set of characters (an Irish family), each of whom recounts her/his travels in her/his own characteristic metre, The Fudge Family is a tour de force of ‘combative liberal politics’ [Jane Moore, ed., The Satires of Thomas Moore, London: Pickering & Chatto 2003, p.xxv] and mocks Irish patriotism alongside French food and fashions, political place-seeking and fantasies of romantic love. Moore’s decision to pillory the ‘groups of ridiculous English people who were at that time swarming in all directions through Paris’ [Letter to Samuel Rodgers, quoted in Jane Moore, op. cit., xxv] in the shape of Phil, Biddy and Bob Fudge (as well as their firebrand tutor, Phelim Connor) is, however, a curious one, and helps us to think about the persistence of Irish themes in even the most English of his writing.’ (For longer extracts, see RICORSO Library, “Classic Irish Criticism”, via index, or direct.)

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John Barrell, ‘The Meeting of the Waters’, in London Review of Books (27 July 2017): ‘[...] Moore’s “The Meeting of the Waters” was first published in 1808 and by the end of the century it had become one of the best known of his Irish Melodies, along with “The harp that once through Tara’s halls”, “The Minstrel Boy” and especially “The last Rose of Summer”. These songs were performed in concerts, and in the polite parlours and drawing rooms where Moore thought they belonged. “The Meeting of the Waters” no doubt owed much of its popularity to the traditional air “The Old Head of Dennis”, to which it was set by the Dublin composer John Stevenson. But the words too were responsible for the song’s great appeal. The song proposed that the pleasures of landscape were best experienced in company, and this preference for sociability over solitude was also a preference for the beautiful over the sublime, and allowed Moore’s readers to enjoy nature on easier terms than, say, Rousseau or Wordsworth seemed to offer. This turning away from the sublime was reinforced by the supposedly peaceful character of the confluence. At the place in County Wicklow that had come to be called the Meeting of the Waters, the rivers Avonmore and Avonbeg meet to become the Avoca in the “Sweet vale of Avoca”. A literary tourist described the river below the confluence as “rapid and impetuous in its progress”. But in Moore’s account, there is nothing torrential about these rivers, which behave as quietly as all rivers will one day behave, when, as the song puts it, “the storms that we feel in this cold world should cease.”’

John Barrell (‘The Meeting of the Waters’, in London Review of Books, 27 July 2017) - cont.: ‘In Ireland in 1808, ten years after the start of the rebellion, five years after it was finally snuffed out with the execution of Moore’s friend Robert Emmet, this landscape meant much more than it would ever have done in England, where news from Ireland was allowed to fade from the memory as quickly as it arrived. There were a number of bloody engagements in Wicklow in the summer of 1798, as the United Irishmen pushed up from County Wexford towards Dublin. In Arklow in June, a few miles to the south-east of the confluence, a force of United Irishmen was defeated by the British. In September at Aughrim, a few miles to the west of the Meeting, General Joseph Holt led his United Irishmen to victory over the British. This history must have been present to Moore when, in a footnote to the first printing of the song, he wrote that “The Meeting of the Waters forms a part of that beautiful scenery which lies between Rathdrum and Arklow, in the county of Wicklow, and these lines were suggested by a visit to this romantic spot, in the summer of the year 1807.’ [...] Of the thousands of references to the song and its title phrase that I have collected in the course of my research, only one, an account of Holt’s autobiography, mentions the song in the context of the 1798 rebellion. The general silence on that point may be vital to how the song came to be understood as the century got older. [...] (For longer extracts, see RICORSO Library, “Criticism > Critics > Monographs”, via index, or as attached.)

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