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.
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.
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.
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).
The Life and Poems of Thomas Moore, Ireland’s National Poet (1993)
The Journal of Thomas Moore (Vol. I, 1986)
Ed. Wilfred S. Dowden
Thomas Moore – Ireland’s Minstrel (2006)
Bard of Erin: The Life of Thomas Moore (2008)
The Journal of Thomas Moore (1983)
Thomas Moore, ed. Wilfred S. Dowden