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the indecency, do, pray, read in Boswell what Johnson, the sullen moralist, says of Prior and Paulo Purgante." 1
August 24. 1819.-"Keep the anonymous: it helps what fun there may be. But if the matter grow serious about Don Juan,' and you feel yourself in a scrape, or me either, own that I am the author. I will never shrink; and if you do, I can always answer you in the question of Guatimozin to his minister-each being on his own coals. 2 I wish that I had been in better spirits; but I am out of sorts, out of nerves, and, now and then, (I begin to fear) out of my senses."
Such additional particulars, respecting the production of the later Cantos, as may seem to deserve preservation, shall be given as the poem proceeds. In the mean time, we have been much puzzled how to put the reader, who does not recollect the incidents of 1819, in possession of any thing like an adequate view of the nature and extent of the animadversion called forth by the first publication of Don Juan.
Cantos I. and II. appeared in London, in July, 1819, without the name either of author or bookseller, in a thin quarto; and the periodical press immediately teemed with the "judicia doctorum · - necnon aliorum." It has occurred to us, that on this occasion we might do worse than adopt the example set us in the Preface to the first complete edition of the DUNCIAD. We there read as follows: "Before we present thee, Reader, with our exercitations on this most delectable Poem (drawn from the many volumes of our Adversaria on modern Authors), we shall here, according to the laudable usage of editors, collect the various judgments of the Learned concerning our Poet: various, indeed!—not only of different authors, but of the same author at different seasons. Nor shall we gather only the Testimonies of such eminent Wits as would of course descend to posterity, and consequently be read
1 [Boswell's Johnson, vol. vii. p. 10. edit. 1835.]
"Am I now reposing on a bed of flowers?"-ROBERTSON.]
without our collection; but we shall likewise, with incredible labour, seek out for divers others, which, but for this our diligence, could never, at the distance of a few months, appear to the eye of the most curious. Hereby thou may'st not only receive the delectation of variety, but also arrive at a more certain judgment, by a grave and circumspect comparison of the witnesses with each other, or of each with himself." In like manner, therefore, let us now gratify our readers, by selecting, in reference to Don Juan, a few of the chief
Testimonies of Authors,
beginning with the most courtly, and decorous, and high-spirited of newspapers,
I. THE MORNING POST.
"The greatest anxiety having been excited with respect to the appearance of this Poem, we shall lay a few stanzas before our readers, merely observing, that, whatever its character, report has been completely erroneous respecting it. If it is not-(and truth compels us to admit it is not) - the most moral production in the world, but more in the Beppo' style, yet is there nothing of the sort which Scandal with her hundred tongues whispered abroad, and Malignity joyfully believed and repeated, contained in it. 'Tis simply a tale and righte merrie conceit, flighty, wild, extravagant-immoral too, it must be confessed; but no arrows are levelled at innocent bosoms, no sacred family peace invaded! and they must have, indeed, a strange self-consciousness, who can discover their own portrait in any part of it. Thus much, though we cannot advocate the book, truth and justice ordain us to declare." [July, 1819.]
Even more complimentary, on this occasion, was the sober, matter-of-fact Thwaitsism of the
II. MORNING HERALD.
"It is hardly safe or discreet to speak of Don Juan, that truant offspring of Lord Byron's muse. It may be said, however, that, wi all its sins, the copiousness and flexibility of the English language were never before so triumphantly approved-that the same compass of talent-'the grave, the gay, the great, the
small,' comic force, humour, metaphysics, and observation boundless fancy and ethereal beauty, and curious knowledge, curiously applied, have never been blended with the same felicity in any other poem.'
Next comes a harsher voice, from- probably Lees Giffard, Esq., LL. D.— at all events, from that staunch organ of high Toryism, the "St. James's Chronicle," still flourishing, but now better known to London readers by its daily title of "The Standard."
III. ST. JAMES'S CHRONICLE.
"Of indirect testimony, that the poem comes from the pen of Lord Byron, there is enough to enforce conviction. The same full command of our language, the same thorough knowledge of all that is evil in our nature, the condensed energy of sentiment, and the striking boldness of imagery—all the characteristics by which Childe Harold, the Giaour, and the Corsair, are distinguished-shine with kindred splendour in Don Juan. Would we had not to add another point of resemblance, in the utter absence of moral feeling, and the hostility to religion, which betray themselves in almost every passage of the new poem! But Don Juan is, alas! the most licentious poem which has for many years issued from the English press."
The fourth on our list is "The New Times," conducted in those days by the worthy and learned Sir John Stoddart, LL.D., now Chief Justice of Malta.
IV. NEW TIMES.
"The work is clever and pungent, sometimes reminding us of the earlier and more inspired day of the writer, but chiefly characterised by his latter style of scattered versification and accidental poetry. It begins with a few easy prefatory stanzas relative to the choice of a hero; and then details the learned and circumspect education of Don Juan, under his lady mother's eye. Lord Byron knows the additional vigour to be found in drawing from the life; and his portraiture of the literary matron, who is, like Michael Cassio, a great arithmetician, some touches on the folly of female studies, and a lament over the henpecked husbands who are linked to ladies intellectual,' are obviously the results of domestic recollections."
Lord Burleigh himself never shook his head more sagely than
V. THE STATESMAN.
"This is a very large book, affecting many mysteries, but possessing very few; assuming much originality, though it hath it not. The author is wrong to pursue so eccentric a flight. It is too artificial; it is too much like the enterprise of Icarus ; and his declination, or, at any rate, that of his book, will be as rapid, if not as disastrous, as the fabled tumble of that ill-starred youth."
We pass to "The Literary Gazette," edited then, as now, by William Jerdan, Esq. of Grove House, Brompton; who is sure of being remembered hereafter for his gallant seizure of Bellingham, the assassin of Perceval, in the lobby of the House of Commons, on the 11th of May, 1812; and the establishment of the first Weekly Journal of Criticism and Belles Lettres in England.
VI. LITERARY GAZETTE.
"There is neither author's nor publisher's name to this book; and the large quarto titlepage looks quite pure, with only seventeen words scattered over its surface: perhaps we cannot say that there is equal purity throughout; but there is not much of an opposite kind, to offend even fastidious criticism, or sour morality. That Lord Byron is the author there is internal proof. The public mind, so agitated by the strange announcement of this stranger, in the newspaper advertisements, may repose in quiet; since we can assure our readers that the avatar so dreaded, neither refers to the return of Buonaparte, nor to the coming of any other great national calamity, but simply to the publication of an exceedingly clever and entertaining poem. Even when we blame the too great laxity of the poet, we cannot but feel a high admiration of his talent. Far superior to the libertine he paints, fancifulness and gaiety gild his worst errors, and no brute force is employed to overthrow innocence. Never was English festooned into more luxuriant stanzas than in Don Juan. Like the dolphin sporting in its native waves, at every turn, however grotesque, displaying a new hue and a new beauty, the noble author has shown an absolute control over his means; and at every cadence, rhyme, or construction, however whimsical, delighted us with novel and magical associations. The style and nature of this poem appear to us to be a singular mixture of burlesque
and pathos, of humorous observation and the higher elements of poetical composition. In ribaldry and drollery, the author is surpassed by many writers who have had their day and sunk into oblivion; but in highly wrought interest, and overwhelming passion, he is himself alone."
As the Editor of the Journal above quoted thought fit to insert, soon after, certain extracts from a work then (and probably still)-in MS., entitled "Lord Byron's Plagiarisms," he (the Editor) will not think it indecorous in us here to append a specimen of the said work - which is known to have proceeded from au less a pen than that of
VII. ALARIC A. WATTS, ESQ.
"A great deal has been said, at various times, about the origin. ality of Lord Byron's conception, as it respects the characters of the heroes and heroines of his poetry. We are, however, disposed to believe, that his dramatis persone are mostly the property of other exhibitors, although he may sometimes furnish them with new dresses and decorations, with 'sable hair,' unearthly scowls,'' a vital scorn' of all beside themselves, and such additional Improvements as he may consider necessary, in order to enable them to make their appearance with satisfaction to himself, and profit, or at least amusement, to the public. Sooth to say, there are few people better adapted to play the part of a Corsair than his lordship; for he is positively unequalled by any marauder we ever met with or heard of, in the extent and variety of his literary piracies, and unacknowledged obligations to various great men, aye, and women too-living as well as deceased."
The next weekly journalist whom we hold it proper to quote is "The Champion"— in other words, Thomas Hill, Esq., the generous original patron of Kirke White and Robert Bloomfield, so eloquently lauded by Southey in his Life of the former of these poets then proprietor of
VIII. THE CHAMPION.
"Don Juan is undoubtedly from the pen of Lord Byron; and the mystery in the publication seems to be nothing but a bookseller's trick to excite curiosity and enhance the sale: for although