Thackeray on Byron’s insincerity
The pretty fable by which the Duchess of Orleans illustrates the character of her son the regent, might, with little change, be applied to Byron. The malignant elf who had been uninvited, came last, and, unable to reverse what her sisters had done for their favourite, had mixed up a curse with every blessing. In the rank of Lord Byron, in his understanding, in his character, in his very person, there was a strange union of opposite extremes. The obloquy which Byron had to endure, was such as might well have shaken a more constant mind. A nation, once the first among the nations, pre-eminent in knowledge, pre-eminent in military glory, the cradle of philosophy, of eloquence, and of the fine arts, had been for ages bowed down under a cruel yoke. Poetry is, as that most acute of human beings Aristotle said, more than two thousand years ago, imitation.