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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 7.djvu/67

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WINDSOR POETICS.

WINDSOR POETICS.

LINES COMPOSED ON THE OCCASION OF HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS THE PRINCE REGENT BEING SEEN STANDING BETWEEN THE COFFINS OF HENRY VIII. AND CHARLES I., IN THE ROYAL VAULT AT WINDSOR.

Famed for contemptuous breach of sacred ties,
By headless Charles see heartless Henry lies;
Between them stands another sceptred thing—
It moves, it reigns—in all but name, a king:


Charles to his people, Henry to his wife,
—In him the double tyrant starts to life:
Justice and Death have mixed their dust in vain,
Each royal Vampire wakes to life again.
Ah, what can tombs avail!—since these disgorge
The blood and dust of both—to mould a George.[1]

[First published, Poetical Works, Paris, 1819, vi. 125.]

  1. ["I cannot conceive how the Vault has got about; but so it is. It is too farouche; but truth to say, my satires are not very playful."—Letter to Moore, March 12, 1814, Letters, 1899, iii. 57-58. Moore had written to him, "Your lines about the bodies of Charles and Henry are, I find, circulated with wonderful avidity; even some clods in this neighbourhood have had a copy sent to them by some 'young ladies in town.'"—Ibid., p. 57, note 3. The discovery "that King Charles I. was buried in the vault of King Henry VIII.," was made on completing the mausoleum which George III. caused to be built in the tomb-house. The Prince Regent was informed of the circumstance, and on April 1, 1813, the day after the funeral of his mother-in-law, the Duchess of Brunswick, he superintended in person the opening of the leaden coffin, which bore the inscription, "King Charles, 1648" (sic). See An Account of what appeared on Opening the Coffin of King Charles the First, by Sir H. Halford, Bart., 1813, pp. 6, 7. Cornelia Knight, in her Autobiography (1861, i. 227), notes that the frolic prince, the "Adonis of fifty," who was in a good humour, and "had given to Princess Charlotte the centre sapphire of Charles's crown," acted "the manner of decapitation on my shoulders." He had "forgotten" Cromwell, who, as Lord Auchinleck reminded Dr. Johnson, had "gart kings ken that they had a lith in their neck!"]