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reports, of the almost commencement of the Millenium ?Have we been preaching, and praying, and building churches, and sending infidels ob prison, and persecuting and prosecuting blasphemers all to no purpose ? When will the age become less licentious ? Surely we are in no lack of Meetings and Methodism to accomplish the good work of our national moral and spiritual reformation! No, no! this is the age of canting; and your canting fellows are no great enemies to secret licentiousness, however they may publicly prate and pray against it; and they only raise the cry of licentiousness against a work, to “make believe" that they abhor the thing itself. But the very great eagerness with which the works of my Lord Byron are read, is a proof that the taste of the age for true poetical beauty, for “ the celestial fire of genius, and the vigour of noble sentiment,” is increasing. The Southeyans, the Wordsworthians, and the whole tribe of their canting and childish admirers, are sinking into oblivion; and we are gradually returning to the true tact, (although, to use the words of our author,
" That modern phrase appears to me sad stuff,")
or true poetical feeling, with which the admirers of Milton, Dryden, and Pope have ever been inspired.
I have been informed, that Lord Byron has lately been joined, in his literary pursuits and continental retirement, by a late well-known Editor of a popular Sunday Newspaper. Personally known as that gentleman' is to the writer of this Preface, nothing more is required to confirm his persuasion, that, whatever may be the polítical or theological views of these gentlemen, honour is the basis of their conduct, and integrity of principle that. which guides them in whatever, either jointly or sepa rately, they send forth into the world. With their opinions we have nothing to do, but to confute, reject, or overlook them,
The apparently loose and wandering style which appears in many
of the lines in “ Don Juan,” are amply made up by the great majesty, beauty, and brilliancy of the rest. The poem is confessedly satirical, and in many places ludicrous; and a more luxuriant mixture of the sublime, the beautiful, and the humorous was never before exhibited. The admirers of Hudibras (and who, except the censurers of “ Don Juan," does not admire that excellent satire ?) cannot but be pleased with the hudibrasticism of some parts of the following work; whilst, on the other hand, the lovers of the pathetic will be amply gratified by the truly affecting details interspersed throughout the several cantos.
The author's digressions are certainly numerous; but they will repay the reader's patience by their great interest.
The criticisms on some of our modern poets are very severe; but they have been provoked by the unmanly attacks made upon the author by those against whom his lordship’s criticisms are directed.
But it is said Lord Byron has no religion. This phrase, “ to have no religion,” is very
fashionable ; but
very unmeaning : for it is applied to all those who may happen to differ from us in some points of our creed. Hence, we say of such an one, “ He has no religion," merely because he has not got our religion. If his lordship is, indeed, as is reported, an unbeliever in the Christian doctrines, I am
by for it : but the loss is his own; and he has as
much moral and natural right to believe in and worship one God, as we Christians have to pay adoration to three persons in one incomprehensible divine hypostasis. If Lord Byron's
Altars are the mountains and the ocean, “ Earth, air, and stars, all that springs from the Great Whole,
“ Who hath produced, and will receive the soul,” they were Adam's, and Abraham's, and Isaac's, and Jacob's, before him ; and it is becoming in a Christian to act upon the advice of St. Paul, who said, Him that is weak in the faith, receive ye; but not to doubtful disputations :” and let those to whom God hath given more faith (for “ faith is the gift of God,") than to the author of Don Juan, be thankful for their superior light, and, by setting Deists a good example,
not by railing and abuse,--endeavour to bring them also into the right way.
As to the poem itself, in a moral point of view, the writer of this preface, himself a Christian from the firmest conviction ; and being a member of that portion of what are usually denominated “the leamed professions,”. which particularly calls upon him to “ defend the faith,” -though not“ by law,”-must confess, that he sees nothing in it, as a whole-i.e. as far as the noble author has proceeded—at all objectionable, when viewed in its proper light, and with that Christian allowance which we are bound to make for his lordship's own views, opinions, and motives. Let others think as they may; for part, “ Plus apud nos vera ratio valeat quam vulgi opinio ;" and, if I err in this determination, I have at least Cicero for my companion.
It is not probable that my Lord Byron will ever see this edition of Don Juan ; but, should it be otherwise, the
Editor, (or rather Preface-writer, for that is the extent of my labour in this work,) would advise him to hasten the completion of a poem which cannot but give delight to every admirer of genius ; but the principal reason which induces one to wish the conclusion of Don Juan, agreeably to the extent intimated by the noble author, is to have that dreadful rake,-that fanatic in love,-that vile enthusiast in intrigue, safe and fast shut up in hell,-a place which Lord Byron seems to regard as one in reversion for all such wanton lovers of pleasure. When his lordship has accomplished this act of justice, he will have wound up the grand “moral” of his poem. By all true Christians this is “ a consummation devoutly to be wished.” We shall then pardon all the warm and “ licentious” pictures for which the work is admired and censured, praised and condemned ;-only let his lordship keep his word, to send Don Juan to “ the blackness of darkness for ever and for ever,”-only let us have the assurance that the time will come when all such characters,
“ While we enjoy the heavenly love,
Must in dread torments dwell;
And blow the flames of hell,"
and all will be right.
I want a hero : an uncommon want,
When every year and month sends forth a new one, Till, after cloying the gazettes with cant,
The age discovers he is not the true one;
I'll therefore take our ancient friend, Don Juan,
Vernon the butcher, Cumberland, Wolfe, Hawke,
Prince Ferdinand, Granby, Burgoyne, Keppel, Howe, Evil and good have had their tithe of talk,
And fili'd their sign-posts then, like Wellesley now Each in their turn like Banquo's monarchs stalk,
Followers of fame,“ nine farrow” of that sow; France, too, had Buonaparte and Dumourier, Recorded in the Moniteur and Courier.
Barnave, Brissot, Condorcet, Mirabeau,
Petion, Clootz, Danton, Marat, La Fayette, Were French, and famous people, as we know;
And there were others, scarce forgotten yet, Joubert, Hoche, Marceau, Landes, Dessaix, Moreau,
With many of the military set, Exceedingly remarkable at times, But not at all adapted to my rhymes.