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I was now dismissed without any further questioning; and, however trying had been this short operation, was amply repaid for it by the kind zeal with which my young friends and companions flocked to congratulate me; not so much, I was inclined to hope, on my acquittal by the court, as on the manner in which I had acquitted myself. Of my reception, on returning home, after the fears entertained of so very different a result, I will not attempt any description; - it was all that such a home alone could furnish.
I have been induced thus to continue down to the very verge of the warning outbreak of 1798, the slight sketch of my early days which I ventured to commence in the First Volume of this Collection:
other account of this affair, published not many years since by an old and zealous friend of our family. After stating with tolerable correctness one or two of my answers, the writer thus proceeds: "Upon this, Lord Clare repeated the question, and young Moore made such an appeal, as caused his lordship to relax, austere and rigid as he was. The words I cannot exactly remember; the substance was as follows:- that he entered college to receive the education of a scholar and a gentleman; that he knew not how to compromise these characters by informing against his college companions; that his own speeches in the debating society had been ill construed, when the worst that could be said of them was, if the truth had been spoken, that they were patriotic... that he was aware of the high-minded nobleman he had the honour of appealing to, and if his lordship could for a moment condescend to step from his high station and place himself in his situation, then say how he would act under such circumstances, -it would be his guidance.". HERBERT'S Irish Varieties. London, 1836.
nor could I have furnished the Irish Melodies with any more pregnant illustration, as it was in those times, and among the events then stirring, that the feeling which afterwards found a voice in my country's music, was born and nurtured.
I shall now string together such detached notices and memoranda respecting this work, as I think may be likely to interest my readers.
Of the few songs written with a concealed political feeling, such as "When he who adores thee," and one or two more, the most successful, in its day, was "When first I met thee warm and young," which alluded, in its hidden sense, to the Prince Regent's desertion of his political friends. It was little less, I own, than profanation to disturb the sentiment of so beautiful an air by any connection with such a subject. The great success of this song, soon after I wrote it, among a large party staying at Chatsworth, is thus alluded to in one of Lord Byron's letters to "I have heard from London that you have left Chatsworth and all there full of entusymusy'
and, in particular, that 'When first I met thee' has been quite overwhelming in its effect. I told you it was one of the best things you ever wrote, though that dog **** wanted you to omit part of it."
It has been sometimes supposed that "Oh, breathe not his name," was meant to allude to Lord Edward Fitzgerald but this is a mistake; the song having been suggested by the well known passage in Robert
Emmet's dying speech, "Let no man write my epitaph..... let my tomb remain uninscribed, till other times and other men shall learn to do justice to my memory."
The feeble attempt to commemorate the glory of our great Duke "When History's Muse," etc. is in so far remarkable, that it made up amply for its want of poetical spirit, by an outpouring, rarely granted to bards in these days, of the spirit of prophecy. It was in the year 1815 that the following lines first made their appearance: :
And still the last crown of thy toils is remaining,
The grandest, the purest, ev'n thou hast yet known;
About fourteen years after these lines were written, the Duke of Wellington recommended to the throne the great measure of Catholic Emancipation.
The fancy of the "Origin of the Irish Harp," was (as I have elsewhere acknowledged *) sug
When, in consequence of the compact entered into between government and the chief leaders of the conspiracy, the State Prisoners, before proceeding into exile, were allowed to see their friends, I paid a visit to Edward Hudson, in the jail of Kiimainham, where he had then lain immured for four or five months, hearing of friend after friend being led out to death, and expecting every week his own turn to come. I found that to amuse his solitude he had made a large drawing with charcoal on the wall of his prison, representing that fancied origin of the Irish Harp
gested, by a drawing made under peculiarly painful circumstances, by the friend so often mentioned in this sketch, Edward Hudson.
In connection with another of these matchless airs, one that defies all poetry to do it justice, — I find the following singular and touching statement in an article of the Quarterly Review. Speaking of a young and promising poetess, Lucretia Davidson, who died very early from nervous excitement, the Reviewer says, "She was particularly sensitive to music. There was one song (it was Moore's Farewell to his Harp) to which she took a special fancy. She wished to hear it only at twilight,— thus (with that same perilous love of excitement which made her place the Æolian harp in the window when she was composing), seeking to increase the effect which the song produced upon a nervous system, already diseasedly susceptible; for it is said that, whenever she heard this song, she became cold, pale, and almost fainting; yet it was her favourite of all songs, and gave occasion to those verses addressed in her fifteenth year to her sister."*
With the Melody entitled "Love, Valour, and Wit," an incident is connected, which awakened feelings in me of proud, but sad pleasure, to think that my songs had reached the hearts of some of the descendants of those great Irish families, who found
which, some years after, I adopted as the subject of one of the Melodies." Life and Death of Lord Edward Fitzgerald, vol. i. * Quarterly Review, vol. xli. p. 294.
themselves forced, in the dark days of persecution, to seek in other lands a refuge from the shame and ruin of their own; those, whose story I have thus associated with one of their country's most characteristic airs:—
Ye Blakes and O'Donnells, whose fathers resign'd
The green hills of their youth, among strangers to find
From a foreign lady, of this ancient extraction, – whose names, could I venture to mention them, would lend to the incident an additional Irish charm, -I received, about two years since, through the hands of a gentleman to whom it had been intrusted, a large portfolio, adorned inside with a beautiful drawing, representing Love, Wit, and Valour, as described in the song. In the border that surrounds the drawing are introduced the favourite emblems of Erin, the harp, the shamrock, the mitred head of St. Patrick, together with scrolls containing each, inscribed in letters of gold, the name of some favourite melody of the fair artist.
This present was accompanied by the following letter from the lady herself; and her Irish race, I fear, is but too discernible in the generous indiscretion with which, in this instance, she allows praise so much to outstrip desert:
"Le 25 Août, 1836.
"Si les poëtes n'étoient en quelque sorte une pro