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The Last of the Roman Tribunes
Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, Bart.
Then turn we to her latest Tribune's name,
From her ten thousand tyrants turn to thee,
Redeemer of dark centuries of shame -
The friend of Petrarch - hope of Italy -
Rienzi, last of Romans! While the tree
Of Freedom's wither'd trunk puts forth a leaf,
Even for thy tomb a garland let it be -
The Forum's champion, and the People's chief -
Her new-born Numa thou!
Childe Harold, cant. iv. stanza 114.
Amidst the indulgence of enthusiasm and eloquence, Petrarch, Italy, and
Europe, were astonished by a revolution, which realized for a moment his
most splendid visions. - Gibbon, chap. 1xx.
Dedication of Rienzi.
To Alessandro Manzoni, as to the Genius of the Place,
Are Dedicated These Fruits, gathered on The Soil of Italian Fiction.
London, Dec. 1, 1835.
Prefixed to the First Collected Edition of the Author's Works in 1840.
My Dear Mother,
In inscribing with your beloved and honoured name this Collection of my
Works, I could wish that the fruits of my manhood were worthier of the
tender and anxious pains bestowed upon my education in youth.
Left yet young, and with no ordinary accomplishments and gifts, the sole
guardian of your sons, to them you devoted the best years of your useful
and spotless life; and any success it be their fate to attain in the paths
they have severally chosen, would have its principal sweetness in the
thought that such success was the reward of one whose hand aided every
struggle, and whose heart sympathized in every care.
From your graceful and accomplished taste, I early learned that affection
for literature which has exercised so large an influence over the pursuits
of my life; and you who were my first guide, were my earliest critic. Do
you remember the summer days, which seemed to me so short, when you
repeated to me those old ballads with which Percy revived the decaying
spirit of our national muse, or the smooth couplets of Pope, or those
gentle and polished verses with the composition of which you had beguiled
your own earlier leisure? It was those easy lessons, far more than the
harsher rudiments learned subsequently in schools, that taught me to admire
and to imitate; and in them I recognise the germ of the flowers, however
perishable they be, that I now bind up and lay upon a shrine hallowed by a
thousand memories of unspeakable affection. Happy, while I borrowed from
your taste, could I have found it not more difficult to imitate your
virtues - your spirit of active and extended benevolence, your cheerful
piety, your considerate justice, your kindly charity - and all the
qualities that brighten a nature more free from the thought of self, than
any it has been my lot to meet with. Never more than at this moment did I
wish that my writings were possessed of a merit which might outlive my
time, so that at least these lines might remain a record of the excellence
of the Mother, and the gratitude of the Son.