« PreviousContinue »
THE EDITOR's PREFACE.
ARD MOORE, the Author of the Tragedy of THE GAMESTER, was born at Abingdon, in Berkshire, March the 22d, 1711-12. He was the third son of the Rev. Thomas Moore, a dissenting-minister of that place. His grand-father was the Rev. John Moore, one of the ejected non-conformists, who resided in Devonshire, and who died August 23, 1717, leaving two sons in the dissenting ministry. Of these, Thomas, the father of our author, removed to Abingdon, where he died in 1721. On his father's death, Edward's education was superintended by his uncle, the Rev. John Moore, who kept an academy at Bridgewater, and he was afterwards removed to the School of East Orchard in Dorsetshire. For some years he followed the business of a linendraper, both in London and in Ireland, but being unsuccessful, and having a turn for literature, he became an author by profession. In the year 1744 he published his "Fables for the Female Sex", which were so favourably received as to introduce him into the society of the noble and the learned, amongst whom were the great Lord Lyttelton and the Right Hon. Mr. Pelham, brother to the Duke of Newcastle.
In the year 1748, he produced the Comedy of The Foundling, a Drama of great interest and well-written, but containing many exceptionable passages. Should this Collection ever be extended, it is my intention to give it a place in The English Drama Purified.
The Comedy of Gil Blas, acted in the year 1751, is a piece of far inferior merit, both in respect of the story and of the sentiments dispersed throughout. The idea of a lady setting off with her maid, both in male attire,
together with a profligate servant, to gain the affections. of a person whom she had only seen, even though it may have actually taken place in Spain, is no useful lesson, either to be followed or avoided, for ladies in England. Nor can it be regarded as being useful in exhibiting a picture of Spanish manners, especially as we are informed that he has falsified them in exhibiting a gentleman intoxicated upon the stage, the being guilty of so gross a vice being considered infamous in Spain.
In the year 1753, the Tragedy of the Gamester was first performed, of which it is my intention to speak more fully when I have finished the few remaining particulars of the author's life.
May the 17th, 1750, Moore married Miss Jane Hamilton, daughter of Mr. Charles Hamilton, tabledecker to the princesses, who had herself a poetical turn, and who has been said to have assisted him in his writings, and to whom we are probably indebted for that delicacy of finishing in the two principal female characters in The Gamester. By her he had one son, Edward, who died in the sea service in 1773. She obtained a place of attendance in the Queen's apartments, in 1758, which she held until her death in 1804.
January the 24th, 1753, was produced the first number of THE WORLD, a periodical paper published twice a week, and originally projected by Moore in conjunction with Dodsley, the bookseller, and aided by Lord Lyttelton, the Earls of Chesterfield, Bath, and Cork, and by Messrs. Walpole, (Horace, afterwards Earl of Orford) Cambridge, Jenyns and others. The success of this work was superior to that of any former periodical publication, the usual number of copies printed of each Number being 2500. The second edition was published in six volumes, but the subsequent editions in four volumes 12mo. It is a remarkable circumstance, that, "In the last number, the conclusion of the work is "made to depend on a fictitious accident which had "occasioned the author's death. When the papers were "collected into volumes for a second edition, Moore "superintended the publication, and actually died while
this last number was in the press: a circumstance" (adds his biographer, Mr. Chalmers,)" which induces. "the wish that death may be less frequently included 66 among the topics of wit." This happened February the 28th, 1757, at his house at Lambeth, of an inflammation on his lungs, the consequence of a fever improperly treated.*
His Poems and Plays were published by himself, in a handsome quarto volume, in the year 1756, dedicated to the Duke of Newcastle, brother to his deceased patron Mr. Pelham.
To the Tragedy of THE GAMESTER is assigned the first place in these volumes, as being one of the most interesting and moral plays in the English language, if not the most so, or probably in any language.
DAVIES, in his LIFE OF GARRICK, (vol. I. p. 175. 4th Ed.) says "The Gamester of Mr. Edward More 66 was an honest attack upon one of the most alluring " and most pernicious vices to which mankind in general, "and this nation in particular, is unhappily subject. "To shew how property is transferred, from the unde"signing votary of chance to the vile betrayer of con"fidence, and the insidious dark-minded sharper, was "an undertaking worthy of the best writer. The play "was shewn in M.S. to Dr. Young, who approved it 66 greatly, with this remarkable expression: ❝ that "gaming wanted such a caustic as the concluding scene "of the play presented."
"The author has in his preface justified his tragedy "against the censure of some critics who complained of "its low style, and who observed too that the catastrophe was too shocking. He has likewise acknow"ledged the assistance of Mr. Garrick, by telling us, "that he was indebted to him for many popular passages
For these particulars of the life of Moore I am indebted to The Biographia Dramatica, and the Historical and Biographical Preface to The World, prefixed to that work, by ALEXANDER CHALMERS, F. S. A. in his edition of The British Essayists, and re published by him in his edition of The Works of the English. Poets from Chaucer to Cowper.