Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 3.djvu/572

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It was not only, as Macaulay put it, that Byron was "singled out as an expiatory sacrifice" by the British public in a periodical fit of morality, but, as the extent and the limitations of the attack reveal, occasion was taken by political adversaries to inflict punishment for an outrage on popular sentiment.

The Champion had been the first to give tongue, and the other journals, on the plea that the mischief was out, one after the other took up the cry. On Monday, April 15, the Sun printed Fare Thee Well, and on Tuesday, April 16, followed with A Sketch. On the same day the Morning Chronicle, protesting that "the poems were not written for the public eye, but as having been inserted in a Sunday paper," printed both sets of verses; the Morning Post, with an ugly hint that "the noble Lord gives us verses, when he dare not give us circumstances," restricted itself to Fare Thee Well; while the Times, in a leading paragraph, feigned to regard "the two extraordinary copies of verses ... the whining stanzas of Fare Thee Well, and the low malignity and miserable doggerel of the companion Sketch, as "an injurious fabrication." On Thursday, the 18th, the Courier, though declining to insert A Sketch, deals temperately and sympathetically with the Fare Thee Well, and quotes the testimony of a "fair correspondent" (? Madame de Staël), that if "her husband had bade her such a farewell she could not have avoided running into his arms, and being reconciled immediately—'Je n'aurois pu m'y tenir un instant';" and on the same day the Times, having learnt to its "extreme astonishment and regret," that both poems were indeed Lord Byron's, maintained that the noble author had "degraded literature, and abused the privileges of rank, by converting them into weapons of vengeance against an inferior and a female." On Friday, the 19th, the Star printed both poems, and the Morning Post inserted a criticism, which had already appeared in the Courier of the preceding day. On Saturday, the 20th, the Courier found itself compelled, in the interests of its readers, to print both poems. On Sunday, the 21st, the octave of the original issue, the Examiner devoted a long article to an apology for Byron, and a fierce rejoinder to the Champion; and on the same day the Independent