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Page:Notes and Queries - Series 9 - Volume 11.djvu/102

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XL JAN. 31, im

misquotation necessarily improves him ; but even his finest poetry rarely has that absolute perfection of form and phrase which gives to much of Shakespeare's, and even oi Shelley's, most careless verse the appearance of inevitableness. C. C. B.

Goethe, Shelley, and Walter Scott had the highest opinion of Byron as a poet. No poet of the same class with these has denied his greatness, except Wordsworth, whose ani- mosity prevented him from being a fail- judge.* It has been the fashion to say that Byron is not a lyrical poet ; but some of the 1 Hebrew Melodies,' and several of his other songs, are very beautiful. In ' Manfred ' are the lines

From thy false tears I did distil

An essence which has strength to kill.

From thy own smile I snatched the snake. As I once remarked in 'N. & Q.,' Shelley showed his admiration for these lines by transferring the images in them to his own poetry. In the song of Beatrice Cenci are the lines :

There is a snake in thy smile, my dear, And bitter poison within thy tear.

Perhaps it has not been noticed and cer- tainly it has not been noticed by Byron him- selfthat in ' The Giaour ' there is an obvious imitation of a Persian poet. I think, but am not sure, that this poet is Ferdousi :

"The spider has woven his vyeb in the imperial palace ; and the owl has sung his watch-song m the towers of Afrasiab."

The lonely spider's thin grey pall Waves slowly widening o'er the wall ; The bat builds in the harem bower ; And in the fortress of his power The owl usurps the beacon-tower. The following may be the source of one of Byron's lines :

Vindicta Nemo magis gaudet quam foemina.

Juvenal, Satire XIII. Sweet is revenge, especially to women.

' Don Juan.'

It is likely, however, that Byron when he wrote the above was drawing from his experience, and not from his reading. In selecting passages for praise from his poetry, nothing better could be chosen than the con- clusion of 'Childe Harold/ stanzas 177-184 of the fourth canto. The faulty " There let

[* "Even at its best, the serious poetry of Byron is often so rough and loose, so weak in the sinews and joints which hold together the framework of verse, that it is not easy to praise it enough without seeming to condone or to extenuate such faults as should not be overlooked or forgiven." A. C. Swin- burne, ' Essays and Studies,' 1875, p. 242.]

him lay," at the end of stanza 180, may be altered to " There let him stay " ; and then there are not many nobler verses in English poetry than these. In the poetry of Shak- speare, Byron, and Shelley we find passages of supreme excellence, arid we find others to which the epithet u slipshod," or some equally contemptuous term, may be applied. Doubt- less Shakspeare has suffered much from transcribers, printers, and others ; but withal it remains clear that he was often very care- less in the construction of his sentences.


PRINCESS CHARLOTTE (9 th S. xi. 8). There is some account of the post-mortem examina- tion of the body of the Princess Charlotte in

  • Memoirs of her late Royal Highness Char-

lotte-Augusta of Wales, and of Saxe-Cobourg,' by Thomas Green (Caxton Press, Liverpool : printed by Henry Fisher no date, but pre- sumably 1818 or 1819), p. 539. On p. 540 is an extract from the London Medical and Physical Journal, which begins with the following :

" There is a certain Court etiquette which pre- vents an authenticated account after the demise of

an illustrious female Like most other secrets,

however, the important events gradually transpire."

There is, I think, no mention of what is referred to in the query as having been pub- lished "on the authority of Mrs. Martin," or of the other story. ROBERT PIERPOINT.

A semi-official report of the case, with an account of the post-mortem examination, appeared in the London Medical fiepositori/, 1 December, 1817, p. 534; but there is no mention of a "disease which would have killed her in eight years." The writer in the above journal was evidently perfectly satis- fied with the management of the case by Sir Richard Croft, but that there was public disapproval is evidenced by the fact that a Mr. Jesse Foot published 'A Letter on the Necessity of a Public Inquiry into the Cause of the Death of Her Royal Highness the Princess Charlotte and her Infant' (1817). In the Medical Times and Gazette, 1872 ii. 636, Dr. W. S. Playfair brought to light a letter from Dr. John Sims, the physician called in by Sir Richard Croft, in which Dr. Sims gives his own opinion of the case.


Richmond, Surrey.

A full account of the fatal confinement and death of the Princess Charlotte, together with the text of the report of the post-mortem by Sir Everard Home, Sir David Dundas, Mr. Brande, and Mr. Neville, the surgeons who also embalmed the body ; the bulletins