Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1792 – 1822
An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying king,—
Princes, the dregs of their dull race, who flow
Through public scorn,—mud from a muddy spring,—
Rulers who neither see, nor feel, nor know,
But leech-like to their fainting country cling,
Till they drop, blind in blood, without a blow,—
A people starved and stabbed in the untilled field,—
An army, which liberticide and prey
Makes as a two-edged sword to all who wield
Golden and sanguine laws which tempt and slay;
Religion Christless, Godless—a book sealed;
A Senate,—Time’s worst statute unrepealed,—
Are graves, from which a glorious Phantom may
Burst, to illumine our tempestous day.
Viewed through the rose-tinted spectacles of Regency Romance, we tend to think of the Regency as calm, beautiful, and serene. An island of beautiful people in the midst of historical turbulence. It was nothing of the sort. The world was changing at a rate scarcely equalled. Even though that Corsican monster had finally been sent to bed in Saint Helena.
The Georgian period had been one of stability, where everyone knew their place and stayed in it. No more.
The Prince Regent was the quintessential “frat-boy” to borrow a modern term, and his father, George III was completely insane.
In some ways it was extremely modern, more like 2016 than we’d like to think.