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[John Scott]
The Lion’s Head.
London Magazine  Vol. 3  No. 13  (January 1821)  2-3.
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No XIII. JANUARY, 1821. Vol. III.


Valiant as a lion, and wondrous affable.——Shakspeare.

We purpose to give, in our ensuing Numbers, a series of papers on the Pulpit Oratory of the present age, chiefly as exercised among Protestant Dissenters. We shall most carefully exclude from them all remarks tending to wound the feelings of individuals, and all impertinent criticism on the ere peculiarities of manner. With equal diligence we shall avoid the least indication of an exclusive spirit, or the expression of contempt for the opinions or the prejudices of any class of Christians. We shall treat Pulpit Oratory only as a high and noble art, and shall there3fore make no individual the subject of disquisition whom we do not regard as possessing singular capabilities for its exercise.

Our Readers must be anxious to know what answer the Mohocks have made to the charges against them, pretty fully stated in our last Number. We have just received their publication for December,—and candour compels us to give their reply a place in our pages. It is as follows:—

It is with sincere pain, that we find the writers in a paltry publication, which is hardly known beyond the limits of Cockaigne, are in the greatest consternation and alarm, lest we should fall upon them. We beg to assure them, that we have no such intention; and if they will only have the condescension to send us their names,—for, celebrated as they are among themselves, they are quite unknown here,—we shall take care not to admit into our pages any thing that might lessen their insignificance.”

And this is all they have to say? Yet “silent contempt” does not become those who have been so noisy in scandal. Contempt on compulsion too! Scorn in a cold sweat! Disdain running off!—But their answer, it must be confessed, is decisive;—it sets the matter at rest: it proves their guilt and their chastisement. There is no more to be said on the subject. We deduced their absolute and thorough baseness from facts, which were plainly stated, with names, dates, and circumstances. We charged them with malice, systematic falsehood, and sordid treachery: we impanelled our evidence, and submitted our proof. To all this the above is their answer! While hand-bills are placarding Edinburgh with their shame, and an action is brought against them by a Professor of the University for an offence originating in our exposure of their conduct,—their reply is, that we are unknown in their neighbourhood! Reader, such are the individuals we have had in hand: was it not necessary to lay on pretty hard?—They are now down, and silent, like the patient man on his dung-hill—like him, amazed, confounded, and sore,—but not sustained in their affliction like he was. We have no wish, however, to pursue farther, in their humiliation, these late insolent laughter-raisers, who made a common joke of common honesty, and terrified people, far and near, by their barbarous defiance of decency and truth. We have laid that unquiet fiend of mischief: exorcized the spirit of blackguardism. Their number just received would be unobjectionable, were it not dull. But allowances must be made for persons trying, for the first time in their lives, and in a fright too, to behave like gentlemen:—we are inclined to applaud even uncouth efforts at improvement. Not having been actuated by vindictive motives, we are now willing to put up the instrument of justice, and inflict no more stripes—that is to say, provided they keep to their
The Lion’s Head.3
good behaviour. They must not continue to drag forth real names, without authority, and contrary to all honourable precedent:—should they persevere in this improper practice, let them look well to their own, and to those of others suspected of being in close connection with them. Irony may be permitted them,—but not forgeries and fabrications, intended to justify their own crimes, by sacrificing the interests and character of the guiltless. We give them notice, that this must not be done by them for the future,—or else ——. They may continue to be hypocritical and venal in religion and politics; but they must not be slanderous in their attacks on persons who are honest in both,—or else ——. They may be satirical on public pretensions, (including our own, if they please,) but they must not assassinate private character,—or else ——: nor must they traduce, by unmeaning epithets, talents which they cannot equal,—or else ——. Nor are they at liberty to cry Cockney, for the future, but on the principles laid down by us in an article, written expressly for their benefit (vide page 69 of the present Number). We now, then, take, we hope, a final leave of the Mohocks, having read them a lesson which, we trust, they will remember, and be the better for. It will be their own fault if we take them up again severely,—for we really feel very well disposed to leave the question on its present footing. If they are satisfied, so are we. Indeed it would be but prudent in their friends,—some of whom might themselves chance to get hurt, were the fray to recommence,—to persevere in the laudable advice which we know they have lately urged on the vanquished, to eat their leek in silence. It is not that we are invincible in power, but that the facts against them are of incontrovertible infamy.—And now we only ask, as a trifling trophy of so signal a victory, that our good friends of Edinburgh will not permit the term Mohock to sink into disuse: it has been well applied, and done some service—but let that pass: we ask no monument of brass or stone on Calton-hill,—we only ask that in the Canongate, and the Cowgate, and the Grass-market, as well as in those upstart streets of the New Town, with whose names we are not so familiar,—the children may be heard perpetuating a title, which we have revived, to quell a nuisance, quite as coarse and mischievous as that combination of blackguards, against whom it was at first used by our honoured predecessors in periodical literature.