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the book is infinitely more immoral than the publications against which the prosecutions of the Society for the Suppression of Vice are directed, we find nothing in it that could be likely to be regarded as actionable. At the bar of moral criticism, indeed, it may and must be arraigned; and against the process and decrees of that court, the subterfuges appealed to will be no protection. Other writers, in their attacks upon whatever mankind may or ought to reverence, make their advances in partial detail; Lord Byron proceeds by general assault. Some, while they war against religion, pay homage to morality; and others, while they subvert all morals, cant about religi 1; Lord Byron displays at once all the force and energy of his faculties, all the powers of poetry, and the missiles of wit and ridicule, against whatever is respectable in either. There is, of course, a good deal of miscellaneous matter dispersed through the two cantos: and though, in those parts which affect to be critical, the wantonness of wit is sometimes more apparent than the sedateness of impartial judgment; and though the politics occasionally savour more of caustic misanthropy, than of that ardent patriotic enthusiasm which con stitutes the charm of that subject upon both these topics, on the whole, we find much more to commend than to censure."

Among the Monthly critics, the first place is due to the venerable Sylvanus Urban.



"Don Juan is obviously intended as a satire upon some of the conspicuous characters of the day. The best friends of the poet must, with ourselves, lament to observe abilities of so high a order rendered subservient to the spirit of infidelity and liber. tinism. The noble bard, by employing his genius on a worthy subject, might delight and instruct mankind; but the presen work, though written with ease and spirit, and containing man truly poetical passages, cannot be read by persons of moral an religious feelings without the most decided reprobation."

We next have the


"Don Juan is a poem, which, if originality and variety be the surest test of genius, has certainly the highest title to it; and which, we think, would have puzzled Aristotle, with all his strength of poetics, to explain, have animated Longinus with some of its passages, have delighted Aristophanes, and have choked Anacreon with joy instead of with a grape. We migh almost imagine that the ambition had seized the author to pleas

and to displease the world at the same time; but we can scarcely think that he deserves the fate of the old man and his son and the ass, in the fable, or that he will please nobody,- how strongly soever we may condemn the more than poetic licence of his muse. He has here exhibited that wonderful versatility of style and thought, which appears almost incompatible within the scope of a single subject; and the familiar and the sentimental, the witty and the sublime, the sarcastic and the pathetic, the gloomy and the droll, are all touched with so happy an art, and mingled together with such a power of union, yet such a discrimination of style, that a perusal of the poem appears more like a pleasing and ludicrous dream, than the sober feeling of reality. It is certainly one of the strangest, though not the best, of dreams; and it is much to be wished that the author, before he lay down to sleep, had invoked, like Shakspeare's Lysander, some good angel to protect him against the wicked spirit of slumbers. We hope, however, that his readers have learned to admire his genius with. out being in danger from its influence; and we must not be surprised if a poet will not always write to instruct as well as to please us.'


To which add a miscellany which, in spite of great occasional merit, is now defunct the


Lord Byron's poem of Don Juan, though a wonderful proof of the versatility of his powers, is avowedly licentious. It is a satire on decency, on fine feeling, on the rules of conduct necessary to the conservation of society, and on some of his own near connections. Vivacious allusions to certain practical irregularities are things which it is to be supposed innocence is strong enough to resist; but the quick alternation of pathos and profaneness, of serious and moving sentiment and indecent ribaldry, — of afflicting, soul-rending pictures of human distress, rendered keen by the most pure and hallowed sympathies of the human breast, and absolute jeering of human nature, and general mockery of creation, destiny, and heaven itself- this is a sort of violence, the effect of which is either to sear or to disgust the mind of the reader, and which cannot be fairly characterised but as an insult and outrage."

The journal next to be cited is also now defunct; but the title has been revived.


"Byron, after having achieved a rapid and glorious fame, has, by the publication of this poem, not only disgusted every well

regulated mind, and afflicted all who respected him for his extraordinary talents, but has degraded his personal character lower than even his enemies (of whom he has many) could have wished to see it reduced. So gratuitous, so melancholy, so despicable a prostitution of genius was never, perhaps, before witnessed. We wish we were the poet's next of kin : it should go hard but that a writ de lunatico inquirendo should issue."

Another sage, long since dead and forgotten, was entitled the


"Don Juan presents to us the melancholy spectacle of the greatest poet of the age lending the enchantment of his genius to themes upon which we trust that, for the benefit of mankind, the charm of its perverted inspiration will for ever be expended in vain. This is by far the most offensive of ail Lord Byron's performances. We have here, for the first time in the history of our literature, a great work, of which the very basis is infidelity and licentiousness, and the most obtrusive ornaments are impure imaginations and blasphemous sneers. The work cannot perish; for it has in it, full and overflowing, the elements of intellectual vigour, and bears upon it the stamp of surpassing power. The poet is, indeed, damned to everlasting fame.""

The Monthly organ of criticism possessing most sway among certain strictly religious circles, was, in 1819, as now, the


"We have had enough of that with which Lord Byron's poetry is replete himself. The necessary progress of character, as developed in his last reputed production, has conducted him to a point at which it is no longer safe to follow him even in thought, for fear we should be beguiled by any portion of the detestation due to this bold outrage. Poetry which it is impossible not to read without admiration, yet which it is equally impossible to admire without losing some degree of self-respect, can be safely dealt with only in one way,- by passing it over in silence. There are cases in which it is equally impossible to relax into laughter, or to soften into pity, without feeling that an immoral concession is made to vice. The author of the following stanza might seen. o invite our compassionate sympathy:

'No more- no more- Oh! never more, my heart,
Canst thou be my sole world, my universe!
Once all in all, but now a thing apart,

Thou canst not be my blessing or my curse:
The illusion's gone for ever, and thou art

Insensible, I trust, but none the worse,
And in thy stead I've got a deal of judgment,
Though heaven knows how it ever found a lodgement,' &c.

These lines are exceedingly touching, and they have that character of truth which distinguishes Lord Byron's poetry. He writes like a man who has that clear perception of the truth of things, which is the result of the guilty knowledge of good and evil; and who, by the light of that knowledge, has deliberately preferred the evil, with a proud malignity of purpose which would seem to leave little for the last consummating change to accomplish. When he calculates that the reader is on the verge of pitying him, he takes care to throw him back the defiance of laughter, as if to let him know that all the Poet's pathos is but the sentimentalism of the drunkard between his cups, or the relenting softness of the courtesan, who the next moment resumes the bad boldness of her degraded character. With such a man who would wish to laugh or to weep? And yet, who that reads him can refrain alternately from either?"

Another now silent oracle was


"A satire was announced, in terms so happily mysterious, as to set the town on the very tiptoe of expectation. A thousand low and portentous murmurs preceded its birth. At one time it was declared to be so intolerably severe, that an alarming increase was to apprehended in the catalogue of our national suicides; at another, it was stated to be of a complexion so blasphemous, as, even in these days of liberality, to endanger the personal security of the bookseller. Fearful indeed was the prodigy - a book without a bookseller; an advertisement without an advertiser, 'a deed without a name.' After all this portentous parturition, out creeps Don Juan,—and, doubtless, much to the general disappointment of the town, as innocent of satire as any other Don in the Spanish dominions. If, then, it be not a satire - what is it? A more perplexing question could not be put to the critical squad. Of the four hundred and odd stanzas which the two Cantos contain, not a tittle could, even in the utmost latitude of interpretation, be dignified by the name of poetry. It has not wit enough to be comic; it has not spirit enough to be lyric; nor is it didactic of any thing but mischief. The versification and morality are about upon a par; as far, therefore, as we are enabled to give it any

character at all, we should pronounce it a narrative of degrading debauchery in doggrel rhyme. The style which the noble lord has adopted is tedious and wearisome to a most insufferable degree. Don Juan is no burlesque, nor mock heroic: it consists of the common adventure of a common man, ill conceived, tediously told, and poorly illustrated. In the present thick and heavy quarto, containing upwards of four hundred doggrel stanzas, there are not a dozen places that, even in the merriest mood, could raise a smile. It is true that we may be VERY DULL DOGS, and as little able to comprehend the wit of his lordship, as to construe his poetry."

We now arrive at two authorities to which, on this occasion, uncommon attention is due, inasmuch as their castigations of Don Juan were considered worthy of very elaborate comment and reclamation on the part of Lord Byron himself. Of these, the first is that famous Article in the no otherwise famous work, since defunct, styled "The British Review," or, in the phrase of Don Juan


"Of a poem so flagitious, no bookseller has been willing to take upon himself the publication, though most of them disgrace themselves by selling it, what can the critic say? His praise or censure ought to found itself on examples produced from the work itself. For praise, as far as regards the poetry, many passages might be exhibited; for condemnation, as far as regards the morality, all: but none for either purpose can be produced, without insult to the ear of decency, and vexation to the heart that feels for domestic or national happiness. This poem is sold in the shops as the work of Lord Byron; but the name of neither author nor bookseller is on the title page: we are, therefore, at liberty to suppose it not to be Lord Byron's composition; and this scepticism has something to justify it, in the instance which has lately occurred of the name of that nobleman having been borrowed for a tale of disgusting horror, published under the title of The Vampire.' But the strongest argument against the supposition of its being the performance of Lord Byron is this;that it can hardly be possible for an English nobleman, even in his mirth, to send forth to the public the direct and palpable falsehood contained in the 209th and 210th stanzas of the First Canto:

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