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Lord Byron (1788–1824). Poetry of Byron. 1881.

IV. Satiric

Satan claims, at Heaven’s Gate, George the Third

(Vision of Judgment, Stanzas 42–49.)

“LOOK to the earth, I said, and say again:

When this old, blind, mad, helpless, weak, poor worm

Began in youth’s first bloom and flush to reign,

The world and he both wore a different form,

And much of earth and all the watery plain

Of ocean call’d him king: through many a storm

His isles had floated on the abyss of time;

For the rough virtues chose them for their clime.

“He came to his sceptre young; he leaves it old:

Look to the state in which he found his realm,

And left it; and his annals too behold,

How to a minion first he gave the helm;

How grew upon his heart a thirst for gold,

The beggar’s vice, which can but overwhelm

The meanest hearts; and for the rest, but glance

Thine eye along America and France.

“’Tis true, he was a tool from first to last

(I have the workmen safe); but as a tool

So let him be consumed. From out the past

Of ages, since mankind have known the rule

Of monarchs—from the bloody rolls amass’d

Of sin and slaughter—from the Cæsar’s school,

Take the worst pupil; and produce a reign

More drench’d with gore, more cumber’d with the slain.

“He ever warr’d with freedom and the free:

Nations as men, home subjects, foreign foes,

So that they utter’d the word ‘Liberty!’

Found George the Third their first opponent. Whose

History was ever stain’d as his will be

With national and individual woes?

I grant his household abstinence; I grant

His neutral virtues, which most monarchs want;

“I know he was a constant consort; own

He was a decent sire, and middling lord.

All this is much, and most upon a throne;

As temperance, if at Apicius’ board,

Is more than at an anchorite’s supper shown.

I grant him all the kindest can accord;

And this was well for him, but not for those

Millions who found him what oppression chose.

“The New World shook him off: the Old yet groans

Beneath what he and his prepared, if not

Completed: he leaves heirs on many thrones

To all his vices, without what begot

Compassion for him—his tame virtues; drones

Who sleep, or despots who have now forgot

A lesson which shall be re-taught them, wake

Upon the thrones of earth; but let them quake!

“Five millions of the primitive, who hold

The faith which makes ye great on earth, implored

A part of that vast all they held of old,—

Freedom to worship—not alone your Lord,

Michael! but you; and you, Saint Peter! Cold

Must be your souls, if you have not abhorr’d

The foe to Catholic participation

In all the license of a Christian nation.

“True! he allow’d them to pray God; but as

A consequence of prayer, refused the law

Which would have placed them upon the same base

With those who did not hold the saints in awe.”—

But here Saint Peter started from his place,

And cried, “You may the prisoner withdraw:

Ere heaven shall ope her portals to this Guelph,

While I am guard, may I be damn’d myself!”