Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 2.djvu/235

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CANTO II.]
201
CHILDE HAROLD’S PILGRIMAGE.

There is a slip of the pen, and it can only be a slip of the pen, in p. 58, No. 31, of the Edinburgh Review, where these words occur: "We are told that when the capital of the East yielded to Solyman"—It may be presumed that this last word will, in a future edition, be altered to Mahomet II.[1] The "ladies of Constantinople," it seems, at that period spoke a dialect, "which would not have disgraced the lips of an Athenian." I do not know how that might be, but am sorry to say that the ladies in general, and the Athenians in particular, are much altered; being far from choice either

  1. In a former number of the Edinburgh Review, 1808, it is observed: "Lord Byron passed some of his early years in Scotland, where he might have learned that pibroch does not mean a bagpipe, any more than duet means a fiddle." Query,—Was it in Scotland that the young gentlemen of the Edinburgh Review learned that Solyman means Mahomet II. any more than criticism means infallibility?—but thus it is,

    "Cædimus, inque vicem præbemus crura sagittis."

    Persius, Sat. iv. 42.

    The mistake seemed so completely a lapse of the pen (from the great similarity of the two words, and the total absence of error from the former pages of the literary leviathan) that I should have passed it over as in the text, had I not perceived in the Edinburgh Review much facetious exultation on all such detections, particularly a recent one, where words and syllables are subjects of disquisition and transposition; and the above-mentioned parallel passage in my own case irresistibly propelled me to hint how much easier it is to be critical than correct. The gentlemen, having enjoyed many a triumph on such victories, will hardly begrudge me a slight ovation for the present.

    [At the end of the review of Childe Harold, February, 1812 (xix., 476), the editor inserted a ponderous retort to this harmless and good-natured "chaff:" "To those strictures of the noble author we feel no inclination to trouble our readers with any reply ... we shall merely observe that if we viewed with astonishment the immeasurable fury with which the minor poet received the innocent pleasantry and moderate castigation of our remarks on his first publication, we now feel nothing but pity for the strange irritability of temperament which can still cherish a private resentment for such a cause, or wish to perpetuate memory of personalities as outrageous as to have been injurious only to their authors."]