1808 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Dermody

Samuel Egerton Brydges, "Thomas Dermody" Censura Literaria 6 (1808) 214-15.



A young man, whose vicious excesses, and total want of principle and conduct in every action of life, consigned him to a premature grave in Oct. 1802, after his genius blazing through obscurity of birth in Ireland, and almost incredible distresses, created by his own infatuated misbehaviour, had led him into the paths of distinction and patronage. He published a volume of poems the year in which he died. It exhibits many proofs of wonderful powers, when the circumstances of low dissipation, and debauchery, under which it was written, are considered. It shews the strangest and most unaccountable inconsistency between a mind, which could feel all the delicacies of sentiment, and all the niceties of language; and a conduct which was hardened to the lowest state of vice.

The following sonnet to Lord Moira breathes a moral pathos, which we should only expect from a virtuous heart.

"To Francis Earl of Moira."
How many with'ring years of dull despair
Have o'er my fated front relentless roll'd,
Since first beneath a Moira's partial care
My happier moments wav'd their wings of gold!
Ah me! And must I never more behold
The glorious orb of day in gladness rise?
No more salute with rapture-beaming eyes,
The glimm'ring star that shuts the shepherd's fold?
No more! If led not by thy lenient hand
To the lone hermitage of learned ease;
Where pensive joy may tenderly expand
His blooms, sore shatter'd by the blighting breeze;
And a new mental Eden by degrees
Bud forth, best patron, at thy soft command!

It must be admitted, however, that the poems, in consequence of the attention excited by the extraordinary history of the author, have had more than their due share of praise. My Raymond has written the life of this profligate but brilliant youth.