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Exhortation to Mrs. Fry

by George Gordon Byron, 1881

(Don Juan, Canto x. Stanzas 85–87.)

OH Mrs. Fry! Why go to Newgate? Why
  Preach to poor rogues? And wherefore not begin
With Carlton, or with other houses? Try
  Your hand at harden’d and imperial sin.
To mend the people’s an absurdity.
  A jargon, a mere philanthropic din,
Unless you make their betters better:—Fy!
I thought you had more religion, Mrs. Fry.

Teach them the decencies of good threescore;
  Cure them of tours, hussar and highland dresses;
Tell them that youth once gone returns no more,
  That hired huzzas redeem no land’s distresses;
Tell them Sir William Curtis is a bore,
  Too dull even for the dullest of excesses,
The witless Falstaff of a hoary Hal,
A fool whose bells have ceased to ring at all.

Tell them, though it may be perhaps too late
  On life’s worn confine, jaded, bloated, sated,
To set up vain pretences of being great,
  ’Tis not so to be good; and be it stated,
The worthiest kings have ever loved least state;
  And tell them——But you won’t, and I have prated
Just now enough; but by and by I’ll prattle
Like Roland’s horn in Roncesvalles’ battle.

Published in Poetry of Byron

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