Obrázky na stránke

livelihood. In the following year he obtained a mastership in the school of the celebrated Dr. Maginn, in Marlborough Street in that city. The young doctor discerned and fostered Callanan's talents, and obtained space in the pages of Blackwood's Magazine for some of his translations from the Irish. But the demon of unrest and indecision was ever with him, and he became dissatisfied with Dr. Maginn and with the drudgery of his ushership, and gave up his post after a few months, and took to wandering through the south of Ireland with the ostensible object of collecting materials in the shape of old Irish legends and songs for future literary labours. In this object he was somewhat successful, and his translations are full of beauty, music, and power. He took up his abode on the Island or Islet of Inchidoney, at the mouth of Clonakilty Bay, and here he lived a simple and frugal life, and mused his fill. Here he wrote 'The Recluse of Inchidoney, a Spenserian poem full of a tender simplicity which characterises all his descriptions of nature. Here he wrote his best-known poem, 'Gougane Barra''the best of all minor Irish poems,' according to one critic. He continued writing and roving in this fashion till 1829, when his health (he was of a naturally delicate constitution) became affected, and the medical advice to try a southern climate disposed him to again become a tutor—this time in an Irish family in Lisbon. The mild and sunny clime of Portugal benefited him for a brief while, but the remedy had been too long deferred. After a residence there of only a few months, he set his foot on a ship to reach Ireland to die in his native land; but he was too prostrate to undergo the sea-journey. He disembarked, and died on the foreign shore, on the 19th September, 1829, aged thirty-four.


His place amongst the Irish poets is high and sure. He is the Irish poet of nature, ever in close and sweet communion with the sea and sky, the verdure, the streams and hills-all the works of God's hands! He is full of grace and feeling, of unaffected piety, of unobtrusive virtue, of love of country-and over all there is a shadow of melancholy, of something unsatisfied, which gives a sorrowful, but not altogether joyless, tinge to his writing. There is no pettiness or frivolity in him. He is a purified and healthy Childe Harold. He has the tenderness without the gaiety, the sigh without the smile, the tear without the fun, of Irish poetry. Romantic and delicate, his poems are with him a means of regaining his old simplicity of mind and life, when

'With soul unsullied, and with heart unseared,
Before he mingled with the herd of men,'


he was 'sweetly lured on to virtue's shrine,' by a contemplation of the glories of that God of Nature to whose service he surrendered the last and best years of his brief life.


THE creator of 'Jeremy Diddler,' even if he had never written anything but 'Raising the Wind,' would have been sure of being remembered. James Kenney, besides giving the world the great 'Jeremy Diddler,' with half a dozen plays, wrote long didactic poems and sparkling songs. According to a critique written immediately on his death, he was, as a farce-writer, one of the happiest and most popular artists of his time. He was a cultivated gentleman, moving in the best literary society, and will be gratefully remembered for his kindness to aspirants in

dramatic authorship.' Notwithstanding that his writings enjoyed such a favour and popularity in his lifetime, and that he obtained large remunerations from time to time for them, he drifted into penury in his old age, and the voluntary benefit at Drury Lane, which was organised on his behalf, was of no avail to the veteran, for he died, it is said, on the morning of the performance, the 1st August, 1849. Of Kenney's youth, little or nothing is known. He was born in the county Limerick, in 1780, of respectable parents, and removed at an early age to London, where the chief part of his after-life was spent. Though the University Magazine, in an obituary notice, said all his pieces were 'eminently attractive,' Byron's opinion was anything but favourable:

'While Kenney's World-ah! where is Kenney's wit ?— Tires the sad gallery, lulls the restless pit.'

Kenney suffered from a painful nervous affection, which gave such an eccentricity to his movements and appearance that he was sometimes taken for an escaped lunatic.



THOMAS MOORE, 'the poet of all circles, and the idol of his own,' is signally and unapproachedly the song-writer of Irish song-writers. A modern critic, himself a poet and an Irishman, has spoken of Moore as the 'tomtit amongst poets.' This is not the place to enquire at length into the justice or injustice of this judgment; nor is this the place to write a critical and exegetical essay on his merits and demerits as a poet. Briefly and perfunctorily we shall refer to his productions, prose and poetic; but whatever may now be the opinions of critics, however

[blocks in formation]

he may stand in the estimation of this age, when fashion so frequently decides merit and confers applause, there can be no question of this, that, as a song-writer, Moore will never decline from the supreme position he occupies amongst Irish authors. In his national songs, sung all the world over, to-day as half a century ago, to the 'Irish Melodies,' his fame may safely rest confident of immortality.

Thomas Moore, like the majority of the Irish songwriters, was sprung from a humble origin. His father, John Moore, was a small tradesman, a grocer or such— it is said the business was established with the fortune he obtained with his wife, Miss Anastasia Codd—and the illustrious poet was born on the 28th May, 1779, at his shop in Aungier Street, Dublin. The house is at the corner of Little Longford Street, is now occupied by a publican, and has a little bust set in a niche in the wall, and a tablet with an inscrutable inscription, to mark the birthplace of the national poet of Ireland. True, there is another memorial in his native city. In the most public thoroughfare there is a statue, which is the jest of the burlesques, the ridicule of tourists, the shame of the citizens. Moore would be more honoured by the removal and annihilation of that wretched memorial.

As a boy, he was educated at the schools of Mr. Malone and the celebrated Samuel Whyte, in Grafton Street, Dublin, where Richard Brinsley Sheridan had been his predecessor; and at sixteen years of age entered Trinity College, that had been opened in the previous year, 1794, to members of the faith to which Moore belonged. But even before his matriculation, while he was but fourteen years old, he had contributed verses to a Dublin journal called Anthologia Hibernica. The afflatus was upon him

early, and while in college he translated the Odes of Anacreon, in order to win a college prize, which, however, he did not win. He was an assiduous student, languages being his forte, and he cultivated with much success his natural talent for music. He was a member of the College Historical Society, where Emmet and Arthur O'Connor were prominent orators, and his friendship for these almost involved him in the revolutionary proceedings of 1798.

He left Trinity College and Ireland for London when he was twenty, and was entered on 28th May, 1798, at the Middle Temple, as Sheridan was before him, with the intention of being called to the Bar. Under the patronage of Lord Moira, who converted his father from a spiritdealer into a barrack-master and customs officer, he in 1800 published by subscription his 'Odes of Anacreon,' dedicated by permission, and through Lord Moira's kindly influence, to the Prince Regent. Elated with their success, he abandoned the law, resolved to live on his poetry. This first publication under such auspices was the means of introducing him to the fashionable society of London, and he charmed it with his personal accomplishments, and became what is called its darling. In 1802 he published the 'Poetical Works of the late Thomas Little,'—a play on his name and on his insignifiIt was because of this volume that Byron in his English Bards,' etc., 'grieved to condemn,' called Moore the melodious advocate of lust'-a rather strong description of a production which, though immoral and licentious, could hardly corrupt. Like many such productions, it was openly condemned and widely read.

cant stature.


The next incident in his life was an unfortunate one. His steadfast patron Lord Moira, at Lady Donegall's

« PredošláPokračovať »