Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Decline and Fall of Mr. Gibbon

William Beckford (1759-1844), written in his copy of Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire:
The time is not far distant, Mr. Gibbon, when your almost ludicrous self-complacency, your numerous, and apparently wilful mistakes, your frequent distortions of historical Truth to provoke a gibe, or excite a sneer at everything most sacred and venerable, your ignorance of the oriental languages, your limited and far from acutely critical knowledge of the Latin and the Greek, and in the midst of all the prurient and obscene gossip of your notes—your affected moral purity perking up every now and then from the corrupt mass like artificial roses shaken off in the dark by some Prostitute on a heap of manure, your heartless scepticism, your unclassical fondness for meretricious ornament, your tumid diction, your monotonous jingle of periods, will be still more scouted and exposed than they have been. Once fairly kicked off from your lofty, bedizened stilts, you will be reduced to your just level and true standard.

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