Lord Byron's Poems

Early Poems: On a Change of Masters At a Great Public School

Where are those honours, IDA! once your own,

When Probus fill'd your magisterial throne?

As ancient Rome, fast falling to disgrace,

Hail'd a Barbarian in her Caesar's place,

So you, degenerate, share as hard a fate,

And seat 'Pomposus' where your 'Probus' sate.

Of narrow brain, yet of a narrower soul, i

Pomposus holds you in his harsh controul;

Pomposus, by no social virtue sway'd,

With florid jargon, and with vain parade;

With noisy nonsense, and new-fangled rules,

(Such as were ne'er before enforc'd in schools.) ii

Mistaking 'pedantry' for 'learning's' laws,

He governs, sanction'd but by self-applause;

With him the same dire fate, attending Rome,

Ill-fated Ida! soon must stamp your doom:

Like her o'erthrown, for ever lost to fame,

No trace of science left you, but the name,

HARROW, July, 1805.

Footnote 1: In March, 1805, Dr. Drury, the Probus of the piece, retired from the Head-mastership of Harrow School, and was succeeded by Dr. Butler, the Pomposus. "Dr. Drury," said Byron, in one of his note-books, "was the best, the kindest (and yet strict, too) friend I ever had; and I look upon him still as a father." Out of affection to his late preceptor, Byron advocated the election of Mark Drury to the vacant post, and hence his dislike of the successful candidate. He was reconciled to Dr. Butler before departing for Greece, in 1809, and in his diary he says, "I treated him rebelliously, and have been sorry ever since." (See allusions in and notes to "Childish Recollections," pp. 84-106, and especially note I, p. 88, notes I and 2, p. 89, and note I, p. 91.)

Footnote i:

-- 'but of a narrower soul'. -

Footnote ii:

'Such as were ne'er before beheld in schools.' -