Thomas Moore

Thomas Moore (Dublin, 1779 – Wiltshire, England, 1852) first came to Paris on a holiday with a friend in July 1817, staying at the Hotel de Breteuil, which stood at 22, rue de Rivoli (1st arrondissement).

In a somewhat complex story, Moore next found himself in Paris in 1819, having fled England when he was deemed liable for money embezzled by a man he had employed to run affairs for the British admiralty in Bermuda. But Moore showed great determination to make the best of a bad situation. When he first arrived in 1819, he stayed at the same hotel as two years earlier and wrote that on the evening he arrived he dined in the Beauvilliers restaurant in the Palais Royal (1st arrondissement), much beloved by Wolfe Tone some 23 years before.

 Tortoni's (on right) and the Boulevard des Italiens
During the next three years in Paris, Moore developed a taste for other high-class restaurants, including the nearby Véry (now absorbed into the Le Grand Véfour, 1
st arrondissement), the Rocher de Cancale (rue Montorgeuil, 2nd arrondissement) and the Café Hardy at the corner of rue Laffitte and Boulevard des Italiens (9th arrondissement). While out on the fashionable Boulevard des Italiens, Moore also developed a taste for Tortoni’s ice cream at the corner of the Boulevard and rue Taitbout (9th arrondissement). Moore was also a regular at Galignani’s reading rooms, which at that time were situated at 18, rue Vivienne (2nd arrondissement).

After a brief trip to Italy, Moore came back to Paris in December 1819, at which stage he beckoned his family to join him. As a consequence, Moore had to go house hunting. He found a ground-floor apartment at 30, rue Chantereine (now 46 rue de la Victoire, 9th arrondissement—the same address at which John Leonard was to stay almost 30 years later). However, Moore complained that he couldn’t get any work done there on account of incessant piano playing on an upper floor. And thus, he and his family left “after six weeks of the most uncomfortable residence I have ever endured”. To add insult to injury, he says he was “fleeced most dreadfully by the old harridan landlady” there.

 La Butte Coaslin in the late 18th century.....
Paris was, he wrote, to “a person of my social habits and multifarious acquaintances, the very worst possible place that could have been resorted to for even the semblance of a quiet and studious home”. However, at the end of January 1820, Moore managed rent what he described as a “cottage” on the Allée des Veuves. Now the ultra-chic Avenue Montaigne (8
th arrondissement), Moore’s biographer Ronan Kelly describes the place then as "a long shabby lane vaguely synonymous with prostitution and other illicit liaisons". But the cottage had at least a garden, so it promised to be "as rural and secluded a workshop as I ever had", according to Moore.

 ....and today
In May/June 1820, Moore witnessed disturbances “on the subject of the electoral law”. On June 10, he went with two friends to visit an Irish widow called Mahony who wanted to translate some work of Lord Byron, a close acquaintance of Moore's. But on their way home, in the narrow rue de Bondy (now called rue René Boulanger, 10th arrondissement), the three men were completely surrounded “between two lines of troops, who let everybody in, but no one out. But after some expostulation, one of the gendarmes let us slip privately between his horse and the wall.”

By the summer of 1820, his friendship with the wealthy Villamil family resulted in an invitation for Moore and his family to stay at their property outside Paris called ‘La Butte Coaslin’. Moore, who moved into a cottage in the grounds of the Villamil property in the hope of finally finding enough peace and quiet to do some work, describes La Butte Coaslin as “a beautiful place hanging over Sevres, and commanding a superb view of the Seine, Paris, Saint Cloud etc…” Of this enchanting location, nothing today remains.

By autumn 1820, Moore was back in the city, with all its distractions. His social life was busy, often involving meetings with British and Irish travellers such as Maria Edgeworth and William Wordsworth (whose wife, Moore writes, “requires all the imaginative powers of her husband to make anything decent of her”). In December 1820, Moore set off on a fresh bout of house hunting, but he claims he “saw nothing that was not dear or uncomfortable”.

Moore writes in his diary that he organised a St. Patrick’s Day dinner in 1821 at the Cadran Bleu restaurant on the Boulevard du Temple (3rd arrondissement) that was attended by about 60 prestigious guests. Alongside Moore's consensual report of this occasion, Miles Byrne and Eugene Davis provide much more antagonistic accounts. Davis, writing much later, says that the 1798 rebel Mr Richard Dillon entertained Moore at the Cadran Bleu. But because Wellesley Pole Long, nephew to the Duke of Wellington, was set to preside over the proceedings, Miles Byrne and others refused to attend. “This St. Patrick’s dinner was rather a feast of flunkeys than an Irish national entertainment,” writes Davis. Miles Byrne also writes that during the evening an altercation developed involving the son of one Thomas Warren.

In May 1821, the Moore family again left the Allée des Veuves to stay at La Butte Coaslin. The following month, Villamil’s daughter, Mary died on the lap of Moore’s wife, Bessy.Yet, although their daughter was evidently dying, "there was no postponing a party scheduled for that night," according to Moore.

17, rue d'Anjou
Moore’s diary from this time contains a number of more amusing anecdotes than that one, culled from his endless socialising. On one occasion, a certain Luttrel “told of an Irishman who having jumped into the water to save a man from drowning, upon receiving 6 pence from the person as a reward for the service looked first at the 6 pence, then at him; and at last exclaimed ‘by Jaysus, I’m
overpaid for the job!' ”  Another Irish story was told by a friend called Lattin: “A man asked another to come and dine off boiled beef and potatoes with him—‘That I will”, says the other, “and it’s rather odd it should be exactly the same dinner I had at home for myself—barring the beef.”

Still a wanted man, Moore crept back to England in September 1821, investing in "a pair of mustachios…as a mode of disguising myself" for the trip. But he was back in Paris in November 1821, when he moved to 17, rue d’Anjou (8th arrondissement). Again, despite having Benjamin Constant as an upstairs neighbour, Moore judged his new flat as uncomfortable and by May 1822 he had moved to 19, rue Basse in Passy (then outside the city, now called rue Berton in the 16th arrondissement). In November of the same year the all-clear was finally sounded regarding his legal difficulties, enabling Moore and family to move back to England definitively, having spent their last fortnight in Paris at the Hotel de York at 56, rue Jacob (6th arrondissement).


Select Bibliography
The Life and Poems of Thomas Moore, Ireland’s National Poet (1993)
Brendan Clifford

The Journal of Thomas Moore (Vol. I, 1986)
Ed. Wilfred S. Dowden

Thomas Moore – Ireland’s Minstrel (2006)
Linda Kelly

Bard of Erin: The Life of Thomas Moore (2008)
Ronan Kelly

The Journal of Thomas Moore (1983)
Thomas Moore, ed. Wilfred S. Dowden