1792
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

To the right honourable the Countess of Moira.

Poems: consisting of Essays, Lyric, Elegiac, &c. by Thomas Dermody. Written between the 13th and 16th year of his age.

Thomas Dermody


One Spenserian forms the dedication to "Memory; a Poem." It prefaces sixteen-year-old Thomas Dermody's second (!) published volume of poems. Elizabeth Hastings, countess of Moira (1731-1808), Thomas Dermody's early patroness, had placed the prodigy under the tutelage of the Irish Spenserian, Henry Boyd. Dermody soon lost her support on account of his wild behavior.

He writes, "Spencer's, was, confessedly, the golden age of Poetry ... there is a beautiful wildness of expression, a noble simplicity, which gains on every polished taste, to the highest degree. I have therefore, in a few places adopted this language of sweetness, and mingled the pathetic and the artless" p. 15.

James Grant Raymond: "His noble patroness, the countess of Moira, still anxious for his improvement and prosperity, with unceasing care endeavoured to correct the foibles which by this time she well knew sullied his character. Having been informed of the habits which he had contracted and the faults which he had committed during his stay with Mr. Austin, she frequently condescended to give him friendly lectures; which unfortunately were soon forgotten, though it appears that at the time he felt their force" Life of Dermody (1806) 1:228.

Robert Southey: "This munificent patroness adopted him, and placed him under the care of Mr. Boyd, the translator of Dante, at Killeagh, with whom he remained two years, and added French and Italian, and some little Spanish to his acquirements. If it had been possible to serve Dermody, his better star was now presiding. But he would not be served, he pestered her with letters insisting upon being removed from Mr. Boyd's, and promised to seek his fortune in London; till wearied out at last, Lady Moira sent him ten guineas that he might follow his own pursuits; saying, that as he had thought proper to withdraw himself from her direction and protection, in a manner equally ungracious and absurd, that was the last favour he was ever to expect from her, or any of her family" Robert Southey, "Raymond's Dermody" Annual Review 5 (1806) 388.



The strain, a shepherd-boy hath sung erewhile,
All by the side of some romantic hill,
(His flock at feed,) perchance, may gain a smile,
And thy soft breast with simple nature thrill;
Unmeet for him, to seize the golden quill
Of schoolman sage. He seeks more flowery ways,
Where Joy and Peace their balmy sweets distill.
Thou didst the Shepherd from oblivion raise,
And if he dares to charm, be thine, not his, the praise!

[Sig. B2]