"Save, Oh, Save Me, From The Candid Friend"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: In attacking the political leaders of Great Britain, the only one for whom Byron had a word of praise in his Don Juan was the statesman George Canning. Canning was converted to Toryism by the French Revolution and threw in his lot with William Pitt, serving as his under-secretary for foreign affairs. To bring ridicule on the English radicals and liberals, he founded The Anti-Jacobin Examiner (1797–1798). His opinions of England's problems are contained in a six-volume collection of speeches in which he came out for free trade, the end of slavery, and Greek independence. He died after serving only five months as England's Prime Minister. Besides his speeches, Mr. Canning occasionally expressed himself in verse, as in "The Slavery of Greece," and in a poem in the Examiner entitled "New Morality" which begins with the statement that much still remains to be done before England's eyes can be purged of their mental mist and all the current lies denied. Only fools would believe the times are barren of folly and devoid of crimes, such crimes as Pope thundered against in his poetry. Some writers since Pope have attacked conditions, in works like The Baviad by W. Gifford, "the hand that brush'd a swarm of fools away." But it is time to do so again, and someone should awaken and pour out "indignant strains" against "learning's, virtue's, truth's, and religion's foes." Never listen to "Candor," that insists: "Much may be said on both sides," or "finds with keen discriminating sight/ Black's not so black; nor white so very white." But Canning longs for the "bold, discriminating mind," even though it may make mistakes. If your enemy is outspoken, at least you will know where he stands. "Fox, to be sure, was vehement and wrong;/ But then, Pitt's words, you'll own, were rather strong./ Both must be blamed, but pardoned." The poet cries out for someone to face a situation:

Give me th'avow'd, the erect, the manly foe,
Bold I can meet,–perhaps may turn his blow;
But of all plagues, good Heaven, thy wrath can send,
Save, save, oh! save me from the candid friend!