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ther name for genius and misfortune after having given us an interest in his feelings as in our own, and drawn the veil of lofty imagination or of pensive regret over all that relates to his own being, so that we go a pilgrimage to the places where he lived, and recall the names he loved with tender affection (worshipping at the shrines where his fires were first kindled, and where the purple light of love still lingers "Elysian beauty, melancholy grace!")-after all this, and more, instead of taking the opinion which one half of the world have formed of Rousseau with eager emulation, and the other have been forced to admit in spite of themselves, we are to be sent back by Mr. Moore's eaves-dropping Muse to what the people in the neighbourhood thought of him (if ever they thought of him at all) before he had shewn any one proof of what he was, as the fairer test of truth and candour, and as coming nearer to the standard of greatness, that is, of something asked to dine out, existing in the author's own mind.
“ This, this is the unkindest cut of all.” Mr. Moore takes the inference which he chuses to attribute to the neighbouring gentry concerning “the pauper lad," namely, that “he was mad” because he was poor, and flings it to the
passengers out of a landau and four as the true version of his character by the fashionable and local authorities of the time. He need not have gone out of his way to Charmettes merely to drag the reputations of Jean Jacques and his mistress after him, chained to the car of aristocracy, as people low and bad," on the strength of his enervated sympathy with the genteel conjectures of the day as to what and who they were we have better and more authentic evidence. What would he say if this method of neutralising the voice of the public were applied to himself, or to his friend Mr. Chantry; if we were to deny that the one ever rode in an open carriage téte-à-téte with a lord, because his father stood behind a counter, or were to ask the sculptor's customers when he drove a milk-cart what we are to think of his bust of Sir Walter? It will never do. It is the peculiar hardship of genius not to be recognized with the first breath it draws-often not to be admitted even during its life-time-to make its way slow and late, through good report and evil report, "through clouds of detraction, of envy and lies"-to have to contend with the injustice of fortune, with the prejudices of the world,
"Rash judgments and the sneers of selfish men
to be shamed by personal defects, to pine in obscurity, to be the butt of pride, the jest of fools, the bye-word of ignorance and maliceto carry on a ceaseless warfare between the consciousness of inward worth and the slights and neglect of others, and to hope only for its reward in the grave and in the undying voice of fame: - and when, as in the present instance, that end has been marvellously attained and a final sentence has been passed, would any one but Mr. Moore wish to shrink from it, to revive the injustice of fortune and the world, and to abide by the idle conjectures of a fashionable cotérie empannelled on the spot, who would come to the same shallow conclusion whether the individual in question were an idiot or a God? There is a degree of gratuitous impertinence and frivolous servility in all this not easily to be accounted for or forgiven.
There is something more particularly offensive in the cant about “people low and bad” applied to the intimacy between Rousseau and Madame Warens, inasmuch as the volume containing this nice strain of morality is dedicated to Lord Byron, who was at that very time living on the very same sentimental terms with an Italian lady of rank, and whose Memoirs Mr. Moore has since thought himself called
upon to suppress, out of regard to his Lordship's character and to that of his friends, most of whom were not "low people." Is it quality, not charity, that with Mr. Moore covers all sorts of slips?
"But 'tis the fall degrades her to a whore ;'
Let Greatness own her, and she 's mean no more!"
What also makes the dead-set at the heroine of the "Confessions" seem the harder measure, is, that it is preceded by an effusion to Mary Magdalen in the devotional style of Madame Guyon, half amatory, half pious, but so tender and rapturous that it dissolves Canova's marble in tears, and heaves a sigh from Guido's canvas. The melting pathos that trickles down one page is frozen up into the most rigid morality, and hangs like an icicle upon the next. Here Thomas Little smiles and weeps in ecstacy; there Thomas Brown (not "the younger," but the elder surely) frowns disapprobation, and meditates dislike. Why, it may be asked, does Mr. Moore's insect-Muse always hover round this alluring subject, "now in glimmer and now in gloom" - now basking in the warmth, now writhing with the smart-now licking his lips at it, now making wry faces - but always fidgetting and fluttering about the same gaudy, luscious topic, either in flimsy raptures or trumpery horrors? I hate, for my own part, this alter
nation of meretricious rhapsodies and methodistical cant, though the one generally ends in the other. One would imagine that the author of “Rhymes on the Road” had lived too much in the world, and understood the tone of good society too well to link the phrases “people low and bad” together as synonymous. But the crossing the Alps has, I believe, given some of our fashionables a shivering-fit of morality, as the sight of Mont Blanc convinced our author of the Being of a God * — they are seized with an amiable horror and remorse for the vices of others (of course so much worse than their own,) so that several of our blue-stockings have got the blue-devils, and Mr. Moore, as the Squire of Dames, chimes in with the cue that is given him. The panic, however, is not universal. He must have heard of the romping, the languishing, the masquerading, the intriguing, and the Platonic attachments of English ladies of the highest quality and Italian Opera-singers. He must
* The poet himself, standing at the bottom of it, however diminutive in appearance, was a much greater proof of his own argument than a huge, shapeless lump of ice. But the immensity, the solitude, the barrenness, the immoveableness of the masses, so different from the whirl, the tinsel, the buzz and the ephemeral nature of the objects which occupy and dissipate his ordinary attention, gave Mr. Moore a turn for reflection, and brought before him the abstract idea of infinity and of the cause of all things.