1815 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lord Byron

T. Dutton, "Poetical Epistle to Lord Byron" The Scourge 10 (December 1815) 409.



Loud echoed from the trump of fame,
Flies through the world BRITANNIA'S name!
Applauding nation's wondering stand,
And owe their rescue to her hand;
And ev'ry heart with rapture beats;
And ev'ry tongue her praise repeats;
And lisping children still renew
The glorious theme of WATERLOO!

Superior thus, with awful charms,
BRITANNIA smiles at War's alarms!
Far, as Old Ocean's billows roll,
Her sway extends, from pole to pole!
Nor less her boasts, in Arts to shine;
To deck the Muse's hallow'd shrine;
To court fair science, and explore
The realms of taste, and wisdom's lore!

But, whilst abroad her trophies rise,
And strike with envy, foreign eyes;
Why passive yield the palm of Wit?
Why, to the scandal of the age,
Let out to France the British stage,
Why prostitute the scene so long
To senseless show, and senseless song?
Importing, from the land of frogs,
Their chattering magpies, and their dogs!!!

With genuine drama to delight,
Two theatres claim patent-right,
Why is this envied favour shown?
Why charter grant to two alone?
If trash be suffer'd to prophane
The sumptuous boards of Drury-lane?
If, rival in the vile abuse,
The Garden ranker weeds produce?
If SHAKSPEARE must descend so low,
And mingle with a puppet-show!
And "As you like it," sick at heart,
Call in the aid of Jean du Bart!

'Tis time, my lord, to stem this barbarous rage,
And from invasion save the British stage;
Time, that abroad no more should play-wrights dance,
And smuggle spurious tinsel wares from France;
Time, that it should be clearly prov'd and shown,
We still have taste and talent of our own:
That British genius holds, at full controul,
The magic spells which subjugate the soul:
Can, without foreign aid, perform its part,
And works its ready passage to the heart!

To set this bright example, and pursue
The generous work, we look, my lord, to you!
From you this patriot service we require;
Haste then, my lord, call forth your "muse of fire!"
Commence the glorious task, without delay;
Nor doubt success, when BYRON leads the way!