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ART. I.-The Life of Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore, K. B. By his brother, JAMES CARRICK MOORE. 2 vols. 8vo. London: 1834.
SIR IR JOHN MOORE's name was so intimately connected with all the glorious exploits of the last war, was so blended with our recollections of the deeds which have illustrated the arms of England, that it was with no common satisfaction we first heard his life was to be written. We anticipated the pleasure of seeing recorded the sentiments, the aspirations, and actions of a man, who had always appeared to us to unite in himself those seemingly incompatible characters, the hero of history, and the hero of romance. Moore was not only a consummate general, a penetrating statesman, and a proud fearless soldier, he was also an accomplished chivalric gentleman, and we had long yearned to have him placed before the world in all the purity of his stainless career.
We had often considered the mode in which such a man's life could be best written, so as to bring into full relief its numerous excellences; and as the rules of good composition require that there should be a principal action of the piece, we had endeavoured to decide whether it would be more judicious, and more just, to give the preference to his brilliant talents, or to that stern, that inflexible virtue, which was inherent to his lofty mind. Turning to the great models of antiquity, we saw the fiery breath of Tacitus animating his idol Agricola, admirable in speech, in camps a hero, in retirement a philosopher; how he made him frowning and dreadful in the front of battle, sedate on the judgment seat, cautious within the snares of the court, calm and serene upon the bed of death; in all things exciting our sympathy. Yet we could not but feel, that here the genius of the
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writer had overlaid the genius of the warrior, and that it was Tacitus, rather than Agricola, whom we admired. Again, when we looked at the mild and philosophic Plutarch selecting a few distinguishing traits of private character, mixing them lightly up with great actions, skimming off the results with a dexterous hand, and pouring them forth to his readers with the gracious benevolence of an admirable old story-teller, we were pleased with the writer, but felt that neither would this method, so agreeable where, other records failing, a number of great men's actions were thrown together, serve for one life; because Plutarch has made but a collection of slight sketches, fit enough to excite noble thoughts, yet without one finished portrait, by which the particular men might be known in the crowd. But in the natural, the simple, powerful writings of Xenophon, we thought we had discovered the secret of representing a great man without disguise; and hence, that if any person should undertake to portray Moore's character, such as he would be desirous it should appear; that is, such as it was upon all occasions, it would be necessary to resort to himself; that to write his life truly, he must be made like Xenophon, to speak for himself. And we knew that he had so spoken. We knew that ample materials were in existence, so ample, so complete, that the dullest of writers, honestly using them, could not fail to produce a work deeply interesting and instructive; treating of great events; full of sense and honour.
We had indeed great hopes that something worthy of the man would appear, until we heard that Mr James Carrick Moore had undertaken to be the author of his brother's life: then our hopes sunk at once. We knew, indeed, that he possessed, besides Letters, a Journal, which, embracing all the important actions of Sir John Moore's life, was a faithful record of the thoughts, the breathings of his inmost soul; a record of all the glorious and generous aspirations of his proud and fiery spirit ;—that spirit whose energy no dangers, no misfortunes could quell. We knew that this biographer had the means of displaying in full daylight, how the gallant Moore, now obeying, now commanding, dealing in court and camp with the wise and the weak, the haughty and the mean, with the daring savage in arms, and with the fraudful politician in council, still bore onwards in his own noble career, unstained by vice or fear, untainted by subserviency, the foremost amongst the great, and yet an honest man. We knew all this, but, alas! we also knew, that his would-be biographer possessed a very moderate capacity, and a judgment warped by the most absurd prejudices; that he was an inveterate controversialist, and a virulent Tory; that he abhorred Roman Catholics, Irishmen, and republicans; looked upon a black man as destined by nature
for a slave, -held freedom, whether civil, commercial, or religious, in disgust, and had a most legitimate detestation of Napoleon: lastly, that the bent of his prejudices was entirely in favour of those who, after death,-in life they dared not, had so shamefully calumniated his generous-minded brother; and hence, that he was incapable of understanding the value of one-half of the materials which he possessed, and was quite capable of misusing what he could not misunderstand.
We expected from him a dry succinct meagre narrative of certain actions, the relation of which would in no manner commit the writer, a few bricks brought forward to show what the building was; in fine, we expected nothing good, and we have not been disappointed. He has produced what he calls the 'Life of Sir 'John Moore,' but what is no more the representation of the man, than the square block of marble in Chantrey's yard is the statue which that great artist will carve from it. We have a record indeed of the battles in which Ensign Moore, and Lieutenant Moore, and Captain, and Colonel, and finally, General Moore, was present: we have shown to us a very well-drilled obedient officer, who is never absent from his guard, and never insults his commanders; who dislikes to see subaltern officers drunk on parade, is brave in action, and receives the praise of his general with due humility. But the man, the hero, we have not. Moore's form is there, we see his uniform, we know that it was red,that it covered a body, which, having life, performed certain functions. Sir John Moore lived and died! This is denoted by certain words, very grammatically put together by his biographer, yet stript of every grace and spirit-stirring expression; without taste or judgment; without one spark of genius, one luminous ray of illustration; and above all, and worse than all, without one throe of sympathy with that proud and generous spirit, whose workings he pretends to display. Every page proclaims to those who have seen the original materials, not only the utter incapacity of the author to think or feel like his brother, but, if it were not too painful a thought, would even lead us to imagine that he was secretly chagrined that he was his brother. Kindred indeed he claims with him, but it is the kindred which the damp moss claims with the ancient temple; it clings to and covers it to its injury, soiling and hiding its noble proportions. And, as if the dull faithlessness of the book had extended its influence to the engraver, the very portrait which accompanies it is repulsive to those who remember the commanding countenance of the man.
There are some faces so constituted, that a painter must disregard likeness, to raise them to the dignity of a picture. There
are others where the grandeur of the mind, and the dignity of the soul, are so plainly expressed, that the painter's art must bow, and accept that as a model, which, in most cases, it claims a right to improve. Such was Sir John Moore's. The picture from which this print is taken, although well painted, is bad as a portrait. It was executed before Lawrence had obtained the power of marking the finer indications of mind in the human face; and the grander traits it was never in his soft and delicate genius to seize. The picture has, indeed, a refined, and playful, and gracious expression, for which the original was remarkable; it might be what Moore was at sixteen, or it might be his sister dressed in his regimentals; but it is not Sir John Moore,-it is not the warrior Moore. We miss the keen dark eye, the strongly-compacted forehead, the bold and flexible brow, the brown weather-beaten soldier's cheek, the lean jaw, the firm decided chin,—the concentrated, the awful look of mental power and energy which distinguished the General, whom shouting thousands hailed on the field of battle! These things are wanting in the picture; and all its faults are exaggerated, and all its merits lost in the print, which is only worthy of the book it so truly illustrates. We rejoice that the splendid picture of his death, painted by Mr Jones, has not also been surrendered a victim to the same ruthless graver.
Sir John Moore's fame and feelings are public, not private property; nor is it fitting that his life should be made a vehicle for pouring out with impunity the crude and fretful humours of his biographer. We propose, therefore, in justice to the living and the dead, to show how faithlessly this book has been written: we have the means of exposing its grosser failures, and we revere the memory of the great and beneficent man who has been misrepresented in it, too much to permit any personal feeling to induce us to shrink from the painful task. And, first, we would ask the author why he is so sparing of his materials, that, to eke out two thin volumes, he is obliged to put in his own commonplace about the romantic beauty of Wales, the frowning of old Conway's flood, and of the double rising of the sun; and twice to insert one of his father's epistles, to convince us that Jack was really a • pretty youth?' This is not what England desires to know of her heroes. Sir John Moore's observations upon the state of the vegetable market at Gibraltar, which is another of the precious morceaux given us by Mr Moore, are not the particulars that England requires in justification of that fame which she has bestowed upon one of her worthiest sons. She wants the nervous thoughts, the penetrating views, the sagacious anticipations, the careful arrangements, the prompt and daring execution of the