« PreviousContinue »
FRANCIS, EARL OF MOIRA,
General in His Majesty's Forces, Master General of
the Ordnance, Constable of the Tower, Etc.
MY LORD, IT is impossible to think of addressing a Dedication to your Lordship without calling to mind the well-known reply of the Spartan to a rhetorician, who pro- . posed to pronounce an eulogium on Hercules. “On Hercules !” said the honest Spartan," who ever thought of blaming Hercules ?" In a similar inanner the concurrence of public opinion has left to the panegyrist of your Lordship a very superfluous task. I shall therefore be silent on the subject, and merely antreat your indulgence to the very liumble tribute of gratitude, which I have here che honour to present.
am, MY LORD, With every feeling of attachment and
respect, Your Lordship’s very devoted Servant,
TIIOMAS MOORE. 27, Bury Strzei. St. James's,?
Ipril 10, 1891;
THIE principal poems in the following Collection were written during an absence of fourteen months from Europe. Though curiosity was certainly not the motive of my voyage to America, yet it happened that the gratification of curiosity was the only advantage which I derived from it. Finding myself in the country of a new people, whose infancy had promised so much, and whose progress tɔ maturity has been an object of such interesting speculation, I determined to employ the short period of time, which my plan of return to Europe afforded me, in travelling through a few of the States and acquiring soine knowledge of the inhabitants.
The impression, which my mind received from the character and manners of these republicans, suggested the Epistles which are written from the city of Washington and Lake Erie.* How far I was right, in thus assuming the tone of a satirist against a people whom I viewed but as a stranger and a visitor, is a doubt which my feelings did not allow me Time to investigate. All I presume to answer for is the fidelity of the picture which I have givea; and though prudence might have dictatel gentler language, truth, I think, would have justified severer.
* Epistles VI, VII et VIII.
I went to America, with prepossessions bý no means unfavourable, and indeed rather indulged in many of those illusive ideas, with respect to the purity of the government and the primitive happiness of the people, which I had early inbibed in my native country, wliere, unfortunately, discontent at home enhances every distant temptation, and the western world has long been looked to as a l'etreat from real or imaginary oppression; as the elysian Atlantis, where persecuted patriots might find their visions realized, and be welcomed by kindred spirits to liberty and repose. I was completely disappointed in every flattering expectation which I had formed, and was inclined to say to America, as Horace says to his mistress, “ intentata nites.” Brisso!, in the preface to his travels, observes, that “a freedom in that country is carried to so high a degree as to border upon a state of nature ;” and there certainly is a close approximation to savage life, not only in the liberty which they enjoy, but in the violence of party spirit and of private animosity which results from it. This illiberal zeal embitters all social intercourse ; and, though I scarcely could hesitate in selecting the party, whose views appeared the more pure and rational, yet I was sorry to observe that, in asserting their opinions, they both assume an equal share of intolerance ; the Democrats, consistently with their principles, exhibiting a vulgarity of rancour, which the
Federalists too often are so forgetful of their cause as to imitate.
The rude familiarity of the lower orders, and indeed the unpolished state of society in general, would neither surprise por disgust if they seemed to flow from that simplicity of character, that honest ignorance of the gloss of refinement, which may be looked for in a new and unexperienced people. But, when we find them arrived at maturity in most of the vices, and all the pride, of civilization, while they are still so remote from its elegant characteristics, it is impossible not to feel that this youthful decay, this crude anticipation of the natural period of corruption, represses every sanguine hope of the future energy and greatness of America.
I am conscious that, in venturing these few remarks, I have said just enough to offend, and by no means sufficient to convince; for the limits of a preface will not allow me to enter into a justification of my opinions, and I am committed on the subject as effectually, as if I had written volumes in their defence. My reader, however, is apprized of the very cursory observation upon which these opinions are founded, and can easily decide for himself upon the degree of attention or confidence which they merit.
With respect to the poems in general, which occupy the following pages, I know not in vhat manner to apologize to the public for intruding upon their notice such a mass of