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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 1.djvu/423

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The time hath been, when no harsh sound would fall
From lips that now may seem imbued with gall;
Nor fools nor follies tempt me to despise
The meanest thing that crawled beneath my eyes:
But now, so callous grown, so changed since youth,
I've learned to think, and sternly speak the truth;
Learned to deride the critic's starch decree,
And break him on the wheel he meant for me;1060
To spurn the rod a scribbler bids me kiss,
Nor care if courts and crowds applaud or hiss:
Nay more, though all my rival rhymesters frown,
I too can hunt a Poetaster down;
And, armed in proof, the gauntlet cast at once
To Scotch marauder, and to Southern dunce.
Thus much I've dared; if my incondite lay[1]
Hath wronged these righteous times, let others say:
This, let the world, which knows not how to spare,
Yet rarely blames unjustly, now declare.[2]1070

  1. Thus much I've dared to do, how far my lay.—[First to Fourth Editions.]
  2. "The greater part of this satire I most sincerely wish had never been written—not only on account of the injustice of much of the critical, and some of the personal part of it—but the tone and temper are such as I cannot approve."—Byron. July 14, 1816. Diodati, Geneva.