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There is in all this a play of fancy, a glitter of words, a shallowness of thought, and a want of truth and solidity that is wonderful, and that nothing but the heedless, rapid glide of the verse could render tolerable :- it seems that the poet, as well as the lover,
“ May bestride the Gossamer,
That wantons in the idle, summer air,
Mr. Moore ought not to contend with serious difficulties or with entire subjects. He can write verses, not a poem. There is no principle of massing or of continuity in his productions-neither height nor breadth nor depth of capacity. There is nó 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. If Mr. Moore were to describe the heights of Chimboraco, instead of the loneliness, the vastness and the shadowy might, he would only think of adorning it with roseate tints, like a strawberry-ice, and would transform a magician's fortress in the Himmalaya (stripped of its mysterious gloom and frowning horrors) into a jeweller's toy, to be set upon a lady's toilette. In proof of this, see above “the diamond turrets of Shadukiam,” &c. The description of Mokanna in the fight, though it has spirit and grandeur of effect, has still a great alloy of the mockheroic in it. The route of blood and death, which is otherwise well marked, is infested with a swarm of “ fire-fly” fancies.
“In vain Mokanna, 'midst the general flight,
Stands, like the red moon, in some stormy night,
This simile is fine, and would have been perfect, but that the moon is not red, and that she seems to hurry by the clouds, not they
The description of the warrior's youthful adversary,
" Whose coming seems
is fantastic and enervated—a field of battle has nothing to do with dreams:- and again, the two lines immediately after,
" And every sword, true as o'er billows dim
The needle tracks the load-star, following him"
are a mere piece of enigmatical ingenuity and scientific mimminee-pimminee.
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, lipdeep, 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 * !—We do except from this censure the author's political squibs, and the “Twopenny Post-bag.” These are essences, are “ nests of spicery,” bitter and sweet, honey and gall together. No one can so well describe the set speech of a dull formalist *, or the flowing locks of a Dowager,
* Compare his songs with Burns's.
“ In the manner of Ackermann's dresses for May." His light, agreeable, polished style pierces through the body of the court - hits off the faded graces of “an Adonis of fifty,” weighs the vanity of fashion in tremulous scales, mimics the grimace of affectation and folly, shews up the littleness of the great, and spears a phalanx of statesmen with its glittering point as with a diamond broach.
“ In choosing songs the Regent named
* “ There was a little man, and he had a little soul,
And he said, Little soul, let us try,” &c.Parody on
“There was a little man, and he had a little gun.”One should think this exquisite ridicule of a pedantic effusion might have silenced for ever the automaton that delivered it: but the official personage in question at the close of the Session addressed an extra-official congratulation to the Prince Regent on a bill that had not passed—as if to repeat and insist upon our errors were to justify them.
Nothing in Pope or Prior ever surpassed the delicate insinuation and adroit satire of these lines, and hundreds more of our author's composition. We wish he would not take pains to make us think of them with less pleasure than formerly.-The “Fudge Family” is in the same spirit, but with a little falling-off. There is too great a mixture of undisguised Jacobinism and fashionable slang. The “divine Fanny Bias” and “ the mountains à la Russe" figure in somewhat quaintly with Buonaparte and the Bourbons. The poet also launches the lightning of political indignation; but it rather plays round and illumines his own pen than reaches the devoted heads at which it is aimed !
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