1819 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Edward Moore

Thomas Campbell, in Specimens of the British Poets (1819; 1845) 433.



EDWARD MOORE was the son of a dissenting clergyman at Abingdon, in Berkshire, and was bred to the business of a linen-draper, which he pursued, however, both in London and Ireland, with so little success, that he embraced the literary life (according to his own account) more from necessity than inclination. His Fables (in 1744) first brought him into notice. The Right Honourable Mr. Pelham was one of his earliest friends; and his Trial of Selim gained him the friendship of Lord Lyttelton. Of three works which he produced for the stage, his two comedies, the "Foundling" and "Gil Blas," were unsuccessful; but he was fully indemnified by the profits and reputation of the "Gamester." Moore himself acknowledges that he owed to Garrick many popular passages of his drama; and Davies, the biographer of Garrick, ascribes to the great actor the whole scene between Lewson and Stukely, in the fourth act; but Davies's authority is not oracular. About the year 1751 Lord Lyttelton, in concert with Dodsley, projected the paper of the World, of which it was agreed that Moore should enjoy the profits, whether the numbers were written by himself or by volunteer contributors. Lyttelton's interest soon enlisted many accomplished coadjutors, such as Cambridge, Jenyns, Lord Chesterfield, and H. Walpole. Moore himself wrote sixty-one of the papers. In the last number of the World the conclusion is made to depend on a fictitious incident which had occasioned the death of the author. When the papers were collected into volumes, Moore, who superintended the publication, realised this jocular fiction by his own death, whilst the last number was in the press.