Your Lofty, Bedizened Stilts

William Thomas Beckford by John Hoppner, oil on canvas, 124 x 99 cm, Salford Museum and Art Gallery.
William Thomas Beckford by John Hoppner, oil on canvas, 124 x 99 cm, Salford Museum and Art Gallery.

The time is not far distant, Mr. Gibbon, when your almost ludicrous self-complacency, your numerous, and sometimes apparently wilful, mistakes, your frequent distortion 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 Greek and the Latin, 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 exposed and scented than they have been. Once fairly kicked off from your lofty, bedizened stilts you will be reduced to your just level and true standard. — W. B.

Conclusion of autograph note of William Beckford (1759-1844), written on the fly-leaf of his copy of Edward Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

Curator: Christian Clay Columba Campbell

Christian Clay Columba Campbell is a Roman Catholic of the Anglican Use. As Senior Warden of the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Orlando, FL), he organised the process by which the parish accepted the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, petitioning to join the Catholic Church. The Anglican Cathedral is now the Church of the Incarnation in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.

Personal queries should be directed to me at eccentricbliss dot com.

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