Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 4.djvu/597

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THE IRISH AVATAR.

Constant to thee as in it's hour
Of rapture in the secret bower.
Thou too hast kept thy plight full well,
As many a baffled Heart can tell.

[From an autograph MS. in the possession of Mr. Murray,
now for the first time printed.]


THE IRISH AVATAR.[1][2]

"And Ireland, like a bastinadoed elephant, kneeling to receive the paltry rider."—[Life of Curran, ii. 336.]

1.

Ere the daughter of Brunswick is cold in her grave,[3]

And her ashes still float to their home o'er the tide,
  1. The enclosed lines, as you will directly perceive, are written by the Rev. W. L. Bowles. Of course it is for him to deny them, if they are not.—[Letter to Moore, September 17, 1821, Letters, 1901, v. 364.]
  2. [A few days before Byron enclosed these lines in a letter to Moore (September 17, 1821) he had written to Murray (September 12): "If ever I do return to England ... I will write a poem to which English Bards, etc., shall be New Milk, in comparison. Your present literary world of mountebanks stands in need of such an Avatar." Hence the somewhat ambiguous title. The word "Avatar" is not only applied ironically to George IV. as the "Messiah of Royalty," but metaphorically to the poem, which would descend in the "Capacity of Preserver" (see Sir W. Jones, Asiatic Research, i. 234). The "fury" which sent Byron into this "lawless conscription of rhythmus," was inspired partly by an ungenerous attack on Moore, which appeared in the pages of John Bull ("Thomas Moore is not likely to fall in the way of knighthood ... being public defaulter in his office to a large amount.... [August 5]. It is true that we cannot from principle esteem the writer of the Twopenny Postbag.... It is equally true that we shrink from the profligacy," etc., August 12, 1821); and, partly, by the servility of the Irish, who had welcomed George IV. with an outburst of enthusiastic loyalty, when he entered Dublin in triumph within ten days of the death of Queen Caroline. The Morning Chronicle, August 8—August 18, 1821, prints effusive leading articles, edged with black borders, on the Queen's illness, death, funeral procession, etc., over against a column (in small type) headed "The King in Dublin." Byron's satire is a running comment on the pages of the Morning Chronicle. Moore was in Paris at the time, being, as John Bull said, "obliged to live out of England," and Byron gave him directions that twenty copies of the Irish Avatar "should be carefully and privately printed off." (see Bibliography, vol. vii. p. 260). In the first and second editions of his Conversations, Medwin, doubtless for prudential reasons, omitted twelve of the more libellous stanzas,
  3. [The Queen died on the night (10.20 p.m.) of Tuesday, August 7. The King entered Dublin in state Friday, August 17. The vessel bearing the Queen's remains sailed from Harwich on the morning of Saturday, August 18, 1821.]