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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 3.djvu/537

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INTRODUCTION TO PARISINA.

Parisina, which had been begun before the Siege of Corinth, was transcribed by Lady Byron, and sent to the publisher at the beginning of December, 1815. Murray confessed that he had been alarmed by some hints which Byron had dropped as to the plot of the narrative, but was reassured when he traced "the delicate hand that transcribed it." He could not say enough of this "Pearl" of great price. "It is very interesting, pathetic, beautiful—do you know I would almost say moral" (Memoir of John Murray, 1891, i. 353). Ward, to whom the MS. of Parisina was shown, and Isaac D'Israeli, who heard it read aloud by Murray, were enthusiastic as to its merits; and Gifford, who had mingled censure with praise in his critical appreciation of the Siege, declared that the author "had never surpassed Parisina."

The last and shortest of the six narrative poems composed and published in the four years (the first years of manhood and of fame, the only years of manhood passed at home in England) which elapsed between the appearance of the first two cantos of Childe Harold and the third, Parisina has, perhaps, never yet received its due. At the time of its appearance it shared the odium which was provoked by the publication of Fare Thee Well and A Sketch, and before there was time to reconsider the new volume on its own merits, the new canto of Childe Harold, followed almost immediately by the Prisoner of Chillon and its brilliant and noticeable companion poems, usurped the attention of friend and foe. Contemporary critics (with the exception of the Monthly and Critical Reviews) fell foul of the subject-matter of the poem—the guilty passion of a