Genius And Criticism.
scripsit quidem fata, sed sequitur.
Of old, the Sultan Genius reigned,
As Nature meant, supreme alone;
With mind unchekt, and hands unchained,
His views, his conquests were his own.
But power like his, that digs its grave
With its own sceptre, could not last;
So Genius' self became the slave
Of laws that Genius' self had past.
As Jove, who forged the chain of Fate,
Was, ever after, doomed to wear it:
His nods, his struggles all too late--
"Qui semel jussit, semper paret."
To check young Genius' proud career,
The slaves who now his throne invaded,
Made Criticism his prime Vizir,
And from that hour his glories faded.
Tied down in Legislation's school,
Afraid of even his own ambition,
His very victories were by rule,
And he was great but by permission.
His most heroic deeds--the same,
That dazzled, when spontaneous actions--
Now, done by law, seemed cold and tame,
And shorn of all their first attractions.
If he but stirred to take the air,
Instant, the Vizir's Council sat--
"Good Lord, your Highness can't go there--
"Bless me, your Highness can't do that."
If, loving pomp, he chose to buy
Rich jewels for his diadem,
"The taste was bad, the price was high--
"A flower were simpler than a gem."
To please them if he took to flowers--
"What trifling, what unmeaning things!
"Fit for a woman's toilet hours,
"But not at all the style for Kings."
If, fond of his domestic sphere,
He played no more the rambling comet--
"A dull, good sort of man, 'twas clear,
"But, as for great or brave, far from it."
Did he then look o'er distant oceans,
For realms more worthy to enthrone him?--
"Saint Aristotle, what wild notions!
"Serve a 'ne exeat regno' on him."
At length, their last and worst to do,
They round him placed a guard of watchmen,
Reviewers, knaves in brown, or blue
Turned up with yellow--chiefly Scotchmen;
To dog his footsteps all about
Like those in Longwood's prison grounds,
Who at Napoleon's heels rode out,
For fear the Conqueror should break bounds.
Oh for some Champion of his power,
Some Ultra spirit, to set free,
As erst in Shakespeare's sovereign hour,
The thunders of his Royalty!--
To vindicate his ancient line,
The first, the true, the only one,
Of Right eternal and divine,
That rules beneath the blessed sun.
Genius And Criticism. by Thomas Moore