Open main menu

Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 3.djvu/335

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


The dedication of the Corsair, dated January 2, 1814, contains one of Byron's periodical announcements that he is about, for a time, to have done with authorship—some years are to elapse before he will again "trespass on public patience."

Three months later he was, or believed himself to be, in the same mind. In a letter to Moore, dated April 9, 1814 (Letters, 1899, iii. 64), he writes, "No more rhyme for—or rather, from—me. I have taken my leave of that stage, and henceforth will mountebank it no longer." He had already—Journal, April 8 (Letters, 1898, ii. 408)—heard a rumour "that his poor little pagod, Napoleon" was "pushed off his pedestal," and before or after he began his letter to Moore he must have read an announcement in the Gazette Extraordinary (April 9, 1814—the abdication was signed April 11) that Napoleon had abdicated the "throne of the world," and declined upon the kingdom of Elba. On the next day, April 10, he wrote two notes to Murray, to inform him that he had written an "ode on the fall of Napoleon," that Murray could print it or not as he pleased; but that if it appeared by itself, it was to be published anonymously. A first edition consisting of fifteen stanzas, and numbering fourteen pages, was issued on the 16th of April, 1814. A second edition followed immediately, but as publications of less than a sheet were liable to the stamp tax on newspapers, at Murray's request, another stanza, the fifth, was inserted in a later (between the second and the twelfth) edition, and, by this means, the pamphlet was extended to seventeen