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[Mediocribus esse poetis
Non Di, non homines, non concessere columnæ. -Horace.]
13 [The king's trick of thus repeating his words was a fertile source of ridicule to Peter Pindar (Dr. Wolcot).]
14 [Henry James Pye, the predecessor of Mr. Southey in the poet-laureateship, died in 1813. He was the author of many works besides his official Odes, and among others "Alfred," an epic poem. Pye was a man of good family in Berkshire, sat some time in parliament, and was eminently respectable in everything but his poetry.]
15 See "Life of Henry Kirke White."
16 Alfonso, speaking of the Ptolomean system, said that "had he been consulted at the creation of the world, he would have spared the maker some absurdities."
17 See Aubrey's account of the apparition which disappeared "with a curious perfume, and a most melodious twang;" or see the "Antiquary," vol. i., p. 225.
18 A drowned body lies at the bottom till rotten; it then floats, as most people know.
19 [Southey's Vision of Judgment appears to us to be an ill-judged and not a wellexecuted work. Milton alone has ever founded a fiction on the basis of revelation without degrading his subject; but Milton has been blamed by the most judicious critics, and his warmest admirers, for expressing the counsels of Eternal Wisdom, and the decrees of Almighty Power, by words assigned to the Deity. It is impossible to deceive ourselves into a belief that words proceeded from the Holy Spirit, except on the warrant of inspiration itself. It is here only that Milton fails, and here Milton sometimes shocks. The blasphemies of Milton's devils offend not a pious ear, because they are devils who utter them. Nor are we displeased with the poet's presumption in feigning language for heavenly spirits, because it is a language that lifts the soul to heaven. The words are human; but the truths they express, and the doctrines they teach, are divine.-Blackwood, 1822.]
INTRODUCTION TO THE AGE OF BRONZE.
In the long line of English Barons few could be prouder of their peerage than Lord Byron, or more tenacious of its privileges. It is common enough for the most jealous aristocrats to be the advocates of the people, if for no better motive than to join the sweets of popularity to the dignity of rank. Lord Byron never made politics a pursuit, nor did he usually take in them the ordinary interest which is felt by the generality of educated men. Circumstances, however, induced him to throw his weight into the liberal scale. The first important connections which he formed in London were of the Whig persuasion, and social influence, in a disposition like his, helped largely to determine his political bias. He was inclined, too, on every subject to stand forth among the champions of the latitudinarian side, from his love of startling sober people with the extravagance of his doctrines, and shocking them by the virulence with which he railed at the dignitaries in whom they confided. Add to this, that most of his manhood was passed abroad, where there was little to conciliate a generous nature to the governments of the day, and where revolutionary projects attracted a spirit that delighted in storms. He professed, nevertheless, to be quite as averse to the tyranny of mobs, as to the tyranny of kings, but not having deliberated on the most difficult of sciences-the means of obtaining and securing a well-regulated freedom-it is easy to perceive that he spoke and acted from the impulse of the hour, and often from his desire to show his wit, or to gratify his spleen. Until he composed the "Age of Bronze," at Genoa, in the early part of 1823, politics had only been treated by him incidentally or in minor pieces, and when at last he devoted this satire to the subject, he appears not to have written from the fulness of his mind, or on any well-defined plan. He returned to a favourite theme, -the low and lofty qualities which were antithetically mixed in the character of Napoleon,-jeered at the Congress of Verona and the sovereigns who convened it, rated the landed interest of England for their attempt to keep up rents, and concluded with exclaiming against Maria Louisa for her second marriage, and with laughing at Sir William Curtis for appearing at Holyrood in a tartan dress. None of these topics are handled with his wonted power, except a portion of the first, where a few sparks are called forth by the exile of Napoleon which shine with the brilliancy of the former flame. Brief as are these passages no other pen could have produced them, and they are only wanting in effect because the lofty flight is not long sustained. On the publication of the poem in London, by Mr. John Hunt, considerable doubts of its authenticity were expressed, for the knight having failed in his usual prowess, some clumsy imitator was suspected of having borrowed the device on his shield.
THE AGE OF BRONZE.
THE "good old times"—all times when old are good-
A wider space, a greener field, is givẹn
To those who play their "tricks before high heaven."
I know not if the angels weep, but men
Have wept enough-for what ?-to weep again!
All is exploded-be it good or bad.
Reader! remember when thou wert a lad,
1 [Mr. Fox used to say-"I never want a word, but Pitt never wants the word."] 2 [The grave of Mr. Fox, in Westminster Abbey, is within eighteen inches of that of Mr. Pitt.]