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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 5.djvu/577

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INTRODUCTION TO THE AGE OF BRONZE.

The Age of Bronze was begun in December, 1822, and finished on January 10, 1823. "I have sent," he writes (letter to Leigh Hunt, Letters, 1901, vi. 160), "to Mrs. S[helley], for the benefit of being copied, a poem of about seven hundred and fifty lines length—The Age of Bronze,—or Carmen Seculare et Annus haud Mirabilis, with this Epigraph—'Impar Congressus Achilli.' It is calculated for the reading part of the million, being all on politics, etc., etc., etc., and a review of the day in general,—in my early English Bards style, but a little more stilted, and somewhat too full of 'epithets of war' and classical and historical allusions. If notes are necessary, they can be added."

On March 5th he forwarded the "Proof in Slips" ("and certainly the Slips are the most conspicuous part of it") to his new publisher, John Hunt; and, on April 1, 1823, The Age of Bronze was published, but not with the author's name.

Ten years had gone by since he had published, only to disclaim, the latest of his boyish satires, The Waltz, and more than six years since he had written, "at the request of Douglas Kinnaird," the stilted and laboured Monody on the Death of ... Sheridan. In the interval (1816-1822) he had essayed any and every measure but the heroic, and, at length, as a tardy recognition of his allegiance to "the great moral poet of all times, of all climes, of all feelings, and of all stages of existence" (Observations upon "Observations," Letters, 1901, v. 590), he reverts, as he believes, to his "early English Bards style," the style of Pope.

The brazen age, the "Annus Haud Mirabilis," which the satirist would hold up to scorn, was 1822, the year after Napoleon's death, which witnessed a revolution in Spain, and the Congress of Allied Sovereigns at Verona. Earlier in the year, the publication of Las Cases' Mémorial de Ste Hélène, and of O'Meara's Napoleon in Exile, or a Voice from St. Helena, had created a sensation on both sides of