First publ. M & W, 10 Nov. 1855; repr. 1863 (when it was placed in ‘Lyrics’: see Appendix D, p. 747), 18632, 1868, 1872, 1888. Our text is 1855.

The situation described in the poem recalls the return of the Italian nobility to Florence from the seclusion of their villas after the restoration of the GrandDuke, Leopold II, in 1849, under Austrian military protection: ‘[The] fact is that these ignoble nobles who have hitherto been shut up in their country villas “to avoid anarchy” come back to face the invasion very mildly. The comfort is, that they have to pay, (for Austria’s tax is heavy)’ (6-7 June 1849; Correspondence xv 287). Cp. ll. 44-6n., 56n.; note however that B.’s speaker does not in fact return to the city. See also headnote to Epigram on the Grand-Duke (p. 474).