Open main menu

Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 7.djvu/11

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
vii
PREFACE TO THE SEVENTH VOLUME.

the edge of a sword" (see The Giaour, line 483, note 1)—affords an easier and a safer foothold.

To the general reader a bibliography says little or nothing; but, in one respect, a bibliography of Byron is of popular import. It affords scientific proof of an almost unexampled fame, of a far-reaching and still potent influence. Teuton and Latin and Slav have taken Byron to themselves, and have made him their own. No other English poet except Shakespeare has been so widely read and so frequently translated. Of Manfred I reckon one Bohemian translation, two Danish, two Dutch, three French, nine German, three Hungarian, three Italian, two Polish, one Romaic, one Roumanian, four Russian, and three Spanish translations, and, in all probability, there are others which have escaped my net. The question, the inevitable question, arises—What was, what is, the secret of Byron's Continental vogue? and why has his fame gone out into all lands? Why did Goethe enshrine him, in the second part of Faust, "as the representative of the modern era ... undoubtedly to be regarded as the greatest genius of our century?" (Conversations of Goethe, 1874, p. 265).

It is said, and with truth, that Byron's revolutionary politics commended him to oppressed nationalities and their sympathizers; that he was against "the tramplers"—Castlereagh, and the Duke of Wellington, and the Holy Alliance; that he stood for liberty. Another point in his favour was his freedom from cant, his indifference