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more than any man in this generation, to preserve our poetry from contamination, and our public morals from injury, your
duties appear to multiply in proportion to the services you have performed. So long as there are enemies in the field, the privilege of superannuation cannot be allowed to him who has hitherto shown no decay of his faculties. The presence of Nestor in the camp of the Greeks, strengthened their councils and animated their commanders; but the fate of Ilium was of trivial import when compared with the morality of literature, in which are involved the interests of religion, and the welfare of society. At the head of the court of criticism, you have done so much for these great concerns, as to make us adopt the wish “ that age may be the lot of any chief but thee.” All virtue, however, is mixed; and it is to be regretted that the best men too often seek excuses for the neglect of what they are conscious ought to have been diligently discharged. Complicated cares and increasing infirmities, the fear of giving offence, and the tenderness of friendship, are all ready apologies for sluggish indifference and want of zeal, when honour calls upon every man to buckle on his armour in the defence of truth.
To what cause may be attributed the forbearance hitherto manifested towards the most popular, and at the same time the most profane, poet of the present day, it would be useless to enquire. But it is a lamentable fact; and the friends of social order see with indignation, that the author of " Don Juan" and 66 Cain” has been suffered to ascend in the climax of prostituted genius, without meeting with that exposure and castigation in his progress, which might have restrained his rashness, if it did not reform his principles or correct his man
You, Mr. Gifford, have had the honour, such as it is, of being praised uniformly by the noble lord ; and in that distinction, it seems, you stand proudly pre-eminent; for there is hardly any other living writer to whom he has not dealt out nearly as much abuse as adulation.
The voice of the public had long before this fixed
you upon an immovable basis ; so that the eulogies of Lord Byron, however strongly perfumed they might be, were of no value ; but on the contrary had a suspicious character, and carried with them more of the appearance of fear than respect; like those offerings which the pagans presented to certain of their divinities, to propitiate their favour and prevent them from doing mischief.
Since then, the right honourable poet has rendered you, or himself, a marvellous piece of kindness in stating that his last performance was submitted to your examination previous to its publication. It is true, he has also acknowledged that you disapproved of the piece, so far at least as to advise its suppression. Notwithstanding this, the “Mystery of Cain” made its appearance, in spite of your opinion ; whence the world
estimate the sincerity of the noble lord, in consulting the judgment of wise men and then abiding by his own. There is nothing surprising in his lordship’s resolution ; but it is matter of astonishment and regret, that any communion at all should have subsisted between the conductor of the first Periodical Journal in Europe, and the author of such a performance as “ Cain ;” since the circumstance seems to account for the little notice that has been taken in the Quarterly Review of the literary delinquencies of the noble lord.
But as the fact has been divulged, it becomes incumbent upon you, Sir, to rouse from your torpidity, and, setting aside all private considerations, to make it evident that the same principle actuates you now as when, in the Baviad and the MÆVIAD, you put down the witlings and libellers of a former day. The objects against whom you directed those powerful weapons, were harmless ephemera, or at the most but troublesome insects, compared with the chartered Libertine who has gone forth defying heaven and earth. In your hands, Mr. Gifford, is placed the only effectual instrument that can bring this haughty spirit to a sense of shame and a course of propriety.
This, perhaps, will be called the language of intolerance, and an incitement to persecution. Be it so:-the world has not now to learn the meaning of those words when used by men who, while they are themselves the most fiery inquisitors and torturers of characters, cannot endure that their own evil deeds