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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 5.djvu/580

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540 THE AGE OF BRONZE. that, whoever suffered, it should not be Dives ; that patriot-ism had brought grist to his mill ; and that he proposed to suck no small advantage out of peace.

"Year after year they voted cent. per cent., Blood, sweat, and tear-wrung millions—why? for rent? They roared, they dined, they drank, they swore they meant To die for England—why then live?—for rent!"

It is easier to divine the "Sources" and the inspiration of The Age of Bronze than to place the reader au courant with the literary and political causerie of the day. Byron wrote with O'Meara's book at his elbow, and with batches of Galignani's Messenger, the Morning Chronicle, and Cobbett's Weekly Register within his reach. He was under the im-pression that his lines would appear as an anonymous con-tribution to The Liberal, and, in any case, he felt that he could speak out, unchecked and uncriticized by friend or publisher. He was, so to speak, unmuzzled. With regard to the style and quality of his new satire, Byron was under an amiable delusion. His couplets, he imagined, were in his "early English Bards style," but "more stilted." He did not realize that, whatever the inter-vening years had taken away, they had "left behind" ex-perience and passion, and that he had learned to think and to feel. The fault of the poem is that too much matter is packed into too small a compass, and that, in parts, every line implies a minute acquaintance with contemporary events, and requires an explanatory note. But, even so, in The Age of Bronze Byron has wedded "a striking passage of history " to striking and imperishable verse. The Age ofBronze was reviewed in the Scots Magazine, April, 1823, N.S., vol. xii. pp. 483-488 ; the Monthly Review, April, 1823, ES., vol. too, pp. 430-433 ; the Monthly Maga-zine, May, 1823, vol. 55, pp. 322-325 ; the Examiner, March 3o, 1823 ; the Literary Chronicle, April 5,1823 ; and the Literary Gazette, April 5,1823.