TO SARAH COUNTESS OF JERSEY, ON THE PRINCE REGENT'S RETURNING HER PICTURE TO MRS. MEE.
When the vain triumph of the imperial lord,
Whom servile Rome obeyed, and yet abhorred,
Gave to the vulgar gaze each glorious bust,
That left a likeness of the brave, or just;
What most admired each scrutinising eye
Of all that decked that passing pageantry?
What spread from face to face that wondering air?
The thought of Brutus—for his was not there!
That absence proved his worth,—that absence fixed
His memory on the longing mind, unmixed;10
And more decreed his glory to endure,
Than all a gold Colossus could secure.
If thus, fair Jersey, our desiring gaze
Search for thy form, in vain and mute amaze,
Amidst those pictured charms, whose loveliness,
Bright though they be, thine own had rendered less:
If he, that vain old man, whom truth admits
Heir of his father's crown, and of his wits,
If his corrupted eye, and withered heart,
- ["The gentlemen of the Champion, and Perry, have got hold (I know not how) of the condolatory Address to Lady Jersey on the picture-abduction by our Regent, and have published them—with my name, too, smack—without even asking leave, or inquiring whether or no! Damn their impudence, and damn every thing. It has put me out of patience, and so, I shall say no more about it."—Letter to Moore, August 3, 1814, Letters, 1899, iii. 118. For Byron's letter to Lady Jersey, of May 29, 1814, and a note from her with reference to a lost (?) copy of the verses, vide ibid., p. 85. Mrs. Anne Mee (1775?—1851) was a miniature-painter, who was employed by the Prince Regent to take the portraits of fashionable beauties.]
- [Compare Childe Harold, Canto IV. stanza lix. line 3, Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 374, note 2.]