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Full Online Book HomePoemsEnglish Bards, And Scotch Reviewers - Preface
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English Bards, And Scotch Reviewers - Preface Post by :Bill_Cook Category :Poems Author :Lord Byron Date :July 2011 Read :1495

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English Bards, And Scotch Reviewers - Preface




"I had rather be a kitten, and cry, mew!
Than one of these same metre ballad-mongers."


"Such shameless Bards we have; and yet 'tis true,
There are as mad, abandon'd Critics, too."




All my friends, learned and unlearned, have urged me not to publish this
Satire with my name. If I were to be "turned from the career of my
humour by quibbles quick, and paper bullets of the brain" I should have
complied with their counsel. But I am not to be terrified by abuse, or
bullied by reviewers, with or without arms. I can safely say that I have
attacked none 'personally', who did not commence on the offensive. An
Author's works are public property: he who purchases may judge, and
publish his opinion if he pleases; and the Authors I have endeavoured to
commemorate may do by me as I have done by them. I dare say they will
succeed better in condemning my scribblings, than in mending their own.
But my object is not to prove that I can write well, but, if 'possible',
to make others write better.

As the Poem has met with far more success than I expected, I have
endeavoured in this Edition to make some additions and alterations, to
render it more worthy of public perusal.

In the First Edition of this Satire, published anonymously, fourteen
lines on the subject of Bowles's Pope were written by, and inserted at
the request of, an ingenious friend of mine, (2) who has now in the
press a volume of Poetry. In the present Edition they are erased, and
some of my own substituted in their stead; my only reason for this being
that which I conceive would operate with any other person in the same
manner,--a determination not to publish with my name any production,
which was not entirely and exclusively my own composition.

With (3) regard to the real talents of many of the poetical persons
whose performances are mentioned or alluded to in the following pages,
it is presumed by the Author that there can be little difference of
opinion in the Public at large; though, like other sectaries, each has
his separate tabernacle of proselytes, by whom his abilities are
over-rated, his faults overlooked, and his metrical canons received
without scruple and without consideration. But the unquestionable
possession of considerable genius by several of the writers here
censured renders their mental prostitution more to be regretted.
Imbecility may be pitied, or, at worst, laughed at and forgotten;
perverted powers demand the most decided reprehension. No one can wish
more than the Author that some known and able writer had undertaken
their exposure; but Mr. Gifford has devoted himself to Massinger, and,
in the absence of the regular physician, a country practitioner may, in
cases of absolute necessity, be allowed to prescribe his nostrum to
prevent the extension of so deplorable an epidemic, provided there be no
quackery in his treatment of the malady. A caustic is here offered; as
it is to be feared nothing short of actual cautery can recover the
numerous patients afflicted with the present prevalent and distressing
rabies for rhyming.--As to the' Edinburgh Reviewers', it would indeed
require an Hercules to crush the Hydra; but if the Author succeeds in
merely "bruising one of the heads of the serpent" though his own hand
should suffer in the encounter, he will be amply satisfied.

(Footnote 1: The Preface, as it is here printed, was prefixed to the
Second, Third, and Fourth Editions of 'English Bards, and Scotch
Reviewers'. The preface to the First Edition began with the words, "With
regard to the real talents," etc. The text of the poem follows that of
the suppressed Fifth Edition, which passed under Byron's own
supervision, and was to have been issued in 1812. From that Edition the
Preface was altogether excluded.

In an annotated copy of the Fourth Edition, of 1811, underneath the
note, "This preface was written for the Second Edition, and printed with
it. The noble author had left this country previous to the publication
of that Edition, and is not yet returned," Byron wrote, in 1816, "He is,
and gone again."--MS. Notes from this volume, which is now in Mr.
Murray's possession, are marked--B., 1816.)

(Footnote 2: John Cam Hobhouse.)

(Footnote 3: Preface to the First Edition.)

Content of Preface (Lord Byron's poem: English Bards, and Scotch Reviewers)

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Till The Day Dawn Till The Day Dawn

Till The Day Dawn
Why should I weary you, dear heart, with words, Words all discordant with a foolish pain? Thoughts cannot interrupt or prayers do wrong, And soft and silent as the summer rain Mine fall upon your pathway all day long. Giving as God gives, counting not the cost Of broken box or spilled and fragrant oil, I know that, spite of your strong carelessness, Rest must be sweeter, worthier must be toil, Touched with such mute, invisible caress. One of

My White Chrysanthemum My White Chrysanthemum

My White Chrysanthemum
As purely white as is the drifted snow, More dazzling fair than summer roses are, Petalled with rays like a clear rounded star, When winds pipe chilly, and red sunsets glow, Your blossoms blow. Sweet with a freshening fragrance, all their own, In which a faint, dim breath of bitter lies, Like wholesome breath mid honeyed flatteries; When other blooms are dead, and birds have flown, You stand alone.