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The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero)/Poetry/Volume 4/Sonnet to the Prince Regent

SONNET TO THE PRINCE REGENT.[1]

ON THE REPEAL OF LORD EDWARD FITZGERALD'S FORFEITURE.

To be the father of the fatherless,
To stretch the hand from the throne's height, and raise
His offspring, who expired in other days
To make thy Sire's sway by a kingdom less,—[2]
This is to be a monarch, and repress
Envy into unutterable praise.
Dismiss thy guard, and trust thee to such traits,
For who would lift a hand, except to bless?[3]
Were it not easy, Sir, and is't not sweet
To make thyself belovéd? and to be
Omnipotent by Mercy's means? for thus
Thy Sovereignty would grow but more complete,
A despot thou, and yet thy people free,[4]
And by the heart—not hand—enslaving us.

Bologna, August 12. 1819.[5]
[First published, Letters and Journals, ii. 234, 235.]


  1. To the Prince Regent on the repeal of the bill of attainder against Lord E. Fitzgerald, June, 1819.
  2. To leave ——.—[MS. M.]
  3. Who now would lift a hand ——.—[MS. M.]
  4. —— becomes but more complete
    Thyself a despot ——.—[MS.M.]

  5. ["So the prince has been repealing Lord Fitzgerald's forfeiture? Ecco un' Sonetto! There, you dogs! there's a Sonnet for you: you won't have such as that in a hurry from Mr. Fitzgerald. You may publish it with my name, an ye wool. He deserves all praise, bad and good; it was a very noble piece of principality."—Letter to Murray, August 12, 1819. For [William Thomas] Fitgerald, see Poetical Works, 1898, i. 297, note 3; for Lord Edward Fitzgerald (1763-1798), see Letters, 1900, iv. 345, note 1. The royal assent was given to a bill for "restoring Edward Fox Fitzgerald and his sisters Pamela and Lucy to their blood," July 13, 1819. The sonnet was addressed to George IV. when Prince Regent. The title, "To George the Fourth," affixed in 1831, is incorrect.]