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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 3.djvu/86

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54
POEMS 1809-1813.

Whose judging voice and eye alone direct
The boundless power to cherish or reject;
If e'er Frivolity has led to fame,
And made us blush that you forbore to blame—
If e'er the sinking stage could condescend
To soothe the sickly taste it dare not mend—
All past reproach may present scenes refute,60
And censure, wisely loud, be justly mute![1]
Oh! since your fiat stamps the Drama's laws,
Forbear to mock us with misplaced applause;
So Pride shall doubly nerve the actor's powers,
And Reason's voice be echoed back by ours!


This greeting o'er—the ancient rule obeyed,[2]

The Drama's homage by her herald paid—
  1. [The following lines were omitted by the Committee:—
    "Nay, lower still, the Drama yet deplores
    That late she deigned to crawl upon all-fours.
    When Richard roars in Bosworth for a horse,
    If you command, the steed must come in course.
    If you decree, the Stage must condescend
    To soothe the sickly taste we dare not mend.
    Blame not our judgment should we acquiesce,
    And gratify you more by showing less.
    Oh, since your Fiat stamps the Drama's laws,
    Forbear to mock us with misplaced applause;
    That public praise be ne'er again disgraced,
    From

    brutes to man recall
    babes and brutes redeem

    a nation's taste;
    Then pride shall doubly nerve the actor's powers,
    When Reason's voice is echoed back with ours."

    The last couplet but one was altered in a later copy, thus—

    "The past reproach let present scenes refute,
    Nor shift from man to babe, from babe to brute."

    "Is Whitbread," wrote Lord Byron, "determined to castrate all my cavalry lines? ... I do implore, for my own gratification, one lash on those accursed quadrupeds—'a long shot, Sir Lucius, if you love me.'"—Letter to Lord Holland, September 28, 1812, Letters, 1898, ii. 156. For "animal performers," vide ibid., note 1.]

  2. [Lines 66-69 were added on September 24, in a letter to Lord Holland.]