Lord Byron's Poems

Early Poems: On the Death of Mr. Fox

The following illiberal impromptu appeared in the "Morning Post:"

"Our Nation's foes lament on 'Fox's' death,

But bless the hour, when PITT resign'd his breath:

These feelings wide, let Sense and Truth unclue,

We give the palm, where Justice points its due."


Oh, factious viper! whose envenom'd tooth

Would mangle, still, the dead, perverting truth; ii

What, though our "nation's foes" lament the fate,

With generous feeling, of the good and great;

Shall dastard tongues essay to blast the name iii

Of him, whose meed exists in endless fame?

When PITT expir'd in plenitude of power,

Though ill success obscur'd his dying hour,

Pity her dewy wings before him spread,

For noble spirits "war not with the dead:"

His friends in tears, a last sad requiem gave,

As all his errors slumber'd in the grave; iv

He sunk, an Atlas bending "'neath the weight" v

Of cares o'erwhelming our conflicting state.

When, lo! a Hercules, in Fox, appear'd,

Who for a time the ruin'd fabric rear'd:

He, too, is fall'n, who Britain's loss supplied, vi

With him, our fast reviving hopes have died;

Not one great people, only, raise his urn,

All Europe's far-extended regions mourn.

"These feelings wide, let Sense and Truth undue,

To give the palm where Justice points its due;" vii

Yet, let not canker'd Calumny assail, viii

Or round her statesman wind her gloomy veil.

FOX! o'er whose corse a mourning world must weep,

Whose dear remains in honour'd marble sleep;

For whom, at last, e'en hostile nations groan,

While friends and foes, alike, his talents own. - ix

Fox! shall, in Britain's future annals, shine,

Nor e'en to PITT, the patriot's 'palm' resign;

Which Envy, wearing Candour's sacred mask,

For PITT, and PITT alone, has dar'd to ask. x

(Southwell, Oct., 1806. 1)

Footnote 1: The stanza on the death of Fox appeared in the 'Morning Post', September 26, 1806.

Footnote 2: This MS. is preserved at Newstead.

Footnote i:

'The subjoined Reply.'

Footnote ii:

'Would mangle, still, the dead, in spite of truth.'

Footnote iii:

'Shall, therefore, dastard tongues assail the name

Of him, whose virtues claim eternal fame?'

Footnote iv: 'And all his errors.' -

Footnote v: 'He died, an Atlas bending 'neath the weight Of cares oppressing our unhappy state. But lo! another Hercules appeared.'

Footnote vi:

'He too is dead who still our England propp'd With him our fast reviving hopes have dropp'd.'

Footnote vii: 'And give the palm.'

Footnote viii:

'But let not canker'd Calumny assail

And round. -

Footnote ix: 'And friends and foes.'

Footnote x: ' - would dare to ask.' 410