Dictionary of National Biography, 1927 supplement/Moore, Edward

4178250Dictionary of National Biography, 1927 supplement — Moore, Edward1927Paget Jackson Toynbee

MOORE, EDWARD (1835–1916), principal of St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, and Dante scholar, was born at Cardiff, where his father practised as a physician, 28 February 1835. He was the elder son of Dr. John Moore, by his second wife, Charlotte Puckle. He was educated at Bromsgrove, and at Pembroke College, Oxford. In 1858, after obtaining four first classes (classics and mathematics) in moderations and the final schools, he was elected to an open fellowship at Queen's College. He was ordained in 1861, and three years later was appointed by Queen's College to the principalship of St. Edmund Hall, which he held for nearly fifty years. Under Moore's headship the reputation of the hall as a home of ‘true religion and sound learning’ was greatly increased, the numbers were more than doubled, and it was represented in almost every honours list. The university commission of 1877 prepared a new scheme for St. Edmund Hall, to take effect on the retirement or death of the existing head. Moore made it his object to defeat this scheme, which would have ended the separate existence of the hall, and to retain the hall as nearly as possible on the old lines. In 1903, on Moore being nominated to a canonry at Canterbury, the provost of Queen's carried through the hebdomadal council a statute which would have resulted in the absorption of the hall by the college. Moore successfully opposed the statute in congregation, and, retaining the headship with the sanction of the prime minister, set himself to preserve the independence of the hall. After a prolonged struggle, during which, though he had taken up his residence at Canterbury, he lived for a part of each term at the hall, his efforts were crowned with success, and in 1913 he at last felt free to resign. At Canterbury he was from the first an active member of the chapter, his special province being the library.

To the world at large Moore was best known as a Dante scholar. In 1876 he founded the Oxford Dante Society, thereby giving a powerful impulse to the study of Dante in Oxford, and consequently far beyond the limits of Oxford. In 1886 he was appointed Barlow lecturer on Dante at University College, London, an appointment which he held in all for seventeen years; and in 1895 a Dante lectureship was specially created for him at the Taylorian Institution at Oxford. Two of his earliest works on Dante, The Time References in the ‘Divina Commedia’ (1887), and Dante and his Early Biographers (1890), were the outcome of the Barlow lectureship. In 1889 appeared his monumental Contributions to the Textual Criticism of the ‘Divina Commedia’. This work, which at once placed Moore in the front rank of living Dante scholars, was the first serious attempt to deal scientifically and methodically with the complicated problems presented by the text of the Commedia, and it is still the chief authority on the subject. In response to a proposal from the Clarendon Press for a single-volume edition of the works of Dante, Moore brought out in 1894 the well-known Oxford Dante, now in its fourth edition (1924), which has been accepted as the standard of reference throughout the world. This was followed in 1896–1903 by three series of Studies in Dante. A fourth series was on the eve of publication at the time of Moore's death, which took place at Chagford 2 September 1916. Especially noteworthy among the essays contained in these four volumes are those on Scripture and Classical Authors in Dante, accompanied by elaborate tables, in the first volume; the closely reasoned article on the Quæstio de Aqua et Terra, which finally established the authenticity of the treatise, and the masterly vindication of the letter to Can Grande, in the second and third; and the lengthy series of studies on the textual criticism of the Convivio, which constitute the pièces justificatives of the emended text as printed in the Oxford Dante, in the posthumously published fourth volume.

Moore's intimate acquaintance with the whole range of Dante's writings, his attainments in the many fields covered by his subject, his acute yet cautious critical judgement, his sound scholarship, and indefatigable industry, gained him a European reputation, which was recognized by his election, among other distinctions, as a corresponding member of the Accademia della Crusca in 1906, and as a fellow of the British Academy in the same year. Moore was twice married: first, in 1868 to Katharine Edith (died 1873), daughter of John Stogdon, solicitor, of Exeter; secondly, in 1878 to Annie (died 1906), daughter of Admiral John Francis Campbell Mackenzie. He had one son and two daughters by each marriage. There is a portrait of Moore at St. Edmund Hall, Oxford.

[The Times, 5 September 1916; memoir by E. Armstrong in Proceedings of the British Academy, 1915–1916; preface (by the writer) to the fourth series of Studies in Dante; personal knowledge.]

P. J. T.