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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 1.djvu/351

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Behold! in various throngs the scribbling crew,
For notice eager, pass in long review:
Each spurs his jaded Pegasus apace,
And Rhyme and Blank maintain an equal race;
Sonnets on sonnets crowd, and ode on ode;
And Tales of Terror[1] jostle on the road;
Immeasurable measures move along;
For simpering Folly loves a varied song,150
To strange, mysterious Dulness still the friend,
Admires the strain she cannot comprehend.

Thus Lays of Minstrels[2]—may they be the last!—

    was nothing to this. [The lines "Princely Offspring," headed "Extemporaneous Verse on the expulsion of the Prince Regent from Portugal by Gallic Tyranny," were published in the Morning Post, Dec. 30, 1807. (See post, l. 708, and note.)]

  1. [See p. 317, note 1.]
  2. See the "Lay of the Last Minstrel," passim. Never was any plan so incongruous and absurd as the groundwork of this production. The entrance of Thunder and Lightning prologuising to Bayes' tragedy [(vide The Rehearsal), British Bards], unfortunately takes away the merit of originality from the dialogue between Messieurs the Spirits of Flood and Fell in the first canto. Then we have the amiable William of Deloraine, "a stark moss-trooper," videlicet, a happy compound of poacher, sheep-stealer, and highwayman. The propriety of his magical lady's injunction not to read can only be equalled by his candid acknowledgment of his independence of the trammels of spelling, although, to use his own elegant phrase, "'twas his neckverse at Harribee," i.e. the gallows.

    The biography of Gilpin Horner, and the marvellous pedestrian page, who travelled twice as fast as his master's horse, without the aid of seven-leagued boots, are chefs d'œuvre in the improvement of taste. For incident we have the invisible, but by no means sparing box on the ear bestowed on the page, and the entrance of a Knight and Charger into the castle, under' the very natural disguise of a wain of hay. Marmion, the hero of the latter romance, is exactly what William of Deloraine would have been, had he