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Editor's Introduction
Don John; or, Don Juan Unmasked
Don Juan, Canto the Third!

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Don John; or, Don Juan Unmasked
Don Juan, Canto the Third!

'DON JOHN,' or Don Juan Unmasked.

Title Pages:

Two Shillings.


A Key to the Mystery,
Attending that Remarkable Publication,
with a Descriptive Review
of the Poem,
and Extracts.
Printed [by J. D. Dewick, Barbican] for William Hone, Ludgate Hill

1. 'DON JOHN,' or Don Juan Unmasked.

1.1. [Introductory]

[1] "In a few days, DON JUAN."1 These words alone, neither preceded or followed by explanation, appearing in the advertising columns of our newspapers, were more novel in their form than the first appearance of the new comet; and in their import, certainly not less mysterious. The curiosity of the town was raised to the highest pitch to know the meaning of the enigmatical line. The ladies, as was natural, supposed them to be used as a signal for happiness, previously concerted between some fond pair, whom time and space had separated. Gentlemen hurried to the offices of the Times [Page 06] and Morning Chronicle, to beg of the editors some explanation: but, for the first time, these public oracles were compelled to declare their ignorance. The portentous words were by the booksellers, whose scent in such matters is rather keen, supposed to be what they significantly called, a 'fetch' of 'Don John's.' What other conjurers could divine, that they were merely an announcement of a work in the press to be published by "John Murray, of Albemarle Street," or speaking agreeably to his own cognomen, "Mr. Murray?"2

[2] Such, however, was the case; and Don John, as the booksellers call him, or Mr. Murray, as he calls himself, with a modesty which he reserves for trying occasions, issues Don Juan. But you do not ask with Mr. Hazlitt, "Has Mr. Murray turned Quaker, that he styles himself John Murray in the title page?" You do not select Mr. Hazlitt's quotation, and say, "Mark you this absolute John?" No. Don Juan appears without Mr. Murray's honest name to it. He publishes, but makes no sign. It would be doing injustice, however, to his rare and superlative merits, to permit him to veil his ex [Page 07]cellencies from the public eye, by any species of diffidence, that seeks concealment. Don Juan being a work of no ordinary kind, the favour Mr. Murray has conferred on the world by its publication, must not be overlooked.

[3] Don Juan is a Poem by Lord Byron, in which his Lordship's muse displays all his characteristic beauties and blemishes—soaring to the vastest heights, or creeping in the lowest depths—glancing with an eye of fantasy, at things past, at things present, and at things to come. Sometimes fixing her sight upon the shining radiance of the most effulgent glory, undazzled by its splendour, or directing her gaze to the microscopic observation of animated putrescence—grasping with one hand thunderbolts from Olympus, and groping with the other in a filthy jakes. The poem is constructed like the image in Nebuchadnezzar's dream—of fine gold, silver, iron, and clay. It abounds in sublime thought and low humour, in dignified feeling and malignant passion, in elegant wit and obsolete conceit. It alternately presents us with the gaiety of the ball-room, and the gloom of the scaffold—leading us among the airy pleasantries of fashionable assemblage, and suddenly conducting us to haunts of depraved and disgusting sensuality. It has the characteristic beauties and deformi [Page 08]ties of most of the noble author's other works, wherein we have scarcely time to be refreshed and soothed by the odours of flowers and bursting blossoms, the pensive silence of still waters, and the contemplation of beautiful forms, before we are terrified and horror-stricken by the ferocious clamours of tumultuous crowds, and the agonies of innocent and expiring victims.

[4] There are few varieties in man or mankind, which the author of Don Juan has not attempted in his productions, from the cavalier of the camp, and the high-bred courtier of the palace, with his pouncet-box and lute, to the ruffian chief of a band of robbers or pirates, who, in one breath, stabs with his dagger, and fires with his pistol; or the brawny bully of a brothel, full of strange oaths and brutal obscenity. But this poem has another character—it keeps no terms with even the common feelings of civilized man. It turns decorum into jest, and bids defiance to the established decencies of life. It wars with virtue, as resolutely as with vice.

1.2. [Description of Canto I]

[5] A sketch of DON JUAN's history, as given by Lord Byron, with some extracts from the poem, will enable a discerning reader to decide, how far these observations are just, and if the character of the work is fairly appreciated. The motive too, for suppressing the publisher's [Page 09] name, will then appear pretty obvious. The noble author opens his poem with these words—

'I want a hero:'—
And then his Lordship with proper judgment selects—
—'Our ancient friend Don Juan,
We all have seen him in the pantomime,
Sent to the devil, somewhat ere his time.'
(Canto I, St. 1.)
His Lordship does not appear much enamoured of the glory acquired by military heroes, either of ancient or modern times; nor of that sort of public taste, which desplays itself in turning their heads into sign-posts. His partiality is on the side of naval leaders. He observes that—
Nelson was once Britannia's god of war,
And still should be so, but the tide is turn'd:
There's no more to be said of Trafalgar,
'Tis with our hero quietly inurn'd;
Because the army's grown more popular,
At which the naval people are concern'd:
Besides, the Prince is all for the land service,
Forgetting Duncan, Nelson, Howe and Jervis.
(Canto I, St. 4)
[Page 10] He next touches on the pedigree of Don Juan, in the following strain—
His father's name was Jóse,—Don, of course;
A better cavalier ne'er mounted horse,
Than Jóse, who begot our hero, who
Begot—but that's to come—
(Canto I, St. 9)
The reader is then informed, that Don Juan's mother was named Donna Inez—that she and her husband, who was a rover, having quarrelled, the Don died, leaving young Juan to the care of the Donna, who hired tutors, and bestowed much pains on his education—
Arts, sciences, no branch was made a mystery
To Juan's eyes, excepting natural history.
(Canto I, St. 39)
His mother, a devoteée, brought him up in her own house at Seville, with great strictness, and had many disputes with his tutors, who—
—for their AEneids, Iliads, and Odysseys,
Were forced to make an odd sort of apology,
For Donna Inez dreaded the mythology.
The missal too (it was the family missal),
Was ornamented in a sort of way
[Page 11]
Which ancient mass-books often are, and this all
Kinds of grotesque illumined, and how they,
Who saw those figures on the margin kiss all,
Could turn their optics to the text and pray,
Is more than I know—but Don Juan's mother
Kept this herself, and gave her son another.
. . . . .
Young Juan now was sixteen years of age,
Tall, handsome, slender, but well knit; he seem'd
Active, though not so sprightly as a page;
And every body but his mother deem'd
Him almost a man; but she flew in a rage
And bit her lips (for else she might have scream'd),
If any said so; for to be precocious,
Was in her eyes a thing the most atrocious.
(Canto I. St. 41, 46, 54)

[6] Amongst the numerous acquaintance of Donna Inez, there was the Donna Julia, "charming, chaste, and twenty-three."

Wedded she was some years, and to a man
Of fifty, and such husbands are in plenty;
And yet, I think, instead of such a ONE,
'Twere better to have TWO of five-and-twenty,
Especially in countries near the sun;
And now I think on't, "mi vien in mente;"
Ladies even of the most uneasy virtue
Prefer a spouse whose age is short of thirty.
[Page 12]
'Tis a sad thing, I cannot choose but say,
And all the fault of that indecent sun,
Who cannot leave alone our helpless clay,
But will keep baking, broiling, burning on
That howsoever people fast and pray,
The flesh is frail, and so the soul undone:
What men call gallantry, and gods adultery,
Is much more common where the climate's sultry.
(Canto I, St. 62-63)
It will be seen that Donna Julia was destined to make some figure in the history of Don Juan. At the age of sixteen he is smitten with her charms, exhibits all the signs of love, is pensive, and seeks solitude, which occasions the noble author to observe, he is fond of solitude himself; but then he says,—
——I beg it may be understood
By solitude, I mean a sultan's, not
A hermit's, with a haram for a grot.
. . . . .
Young Juan wander'd by the glassy brooks,
Thinking unutterable things; he threw
Himself at length within the leafy nooks,
Where the wild branch of the cork forest grew;
There poets find materials for their books,
And every now and then we read them through,
So that their plan and prosody are eligible,
Unless, like Wordsworth, they prove unintelligible.
[Page 13]
He, Juan (and not Wordsworth), so pursued
His self-communion with his own high soul,
Until his mighty heart, in its great mood,
Had mitigated part, though not the whole
Of its disease; he did the best he could
With things not very subject to control,
And turn'd, without perceiving his condition,
Like Coleridge, into a metaphysician.
He thought about himself and the whole earth,
Of man the wonderful, and of the stars,
And how the deuce they ever could have birth;
And then he thought of earthquakes and of wars,
How many miles the moon might have in girth,
Of air-balloons, and of the many bars
To perfect knowledge of the boundless skies,
And then he thought of Donna Julia's eyes.
(Canto I, St. 87, 90-92)
Donna Inez did not discover Juan's state of mind. Donna Julia had more penetration.
'Twas on a summer's day—the sixth of June:—
I like to be particular in dates,
Not only of the age, and year, but moon;
They are a sort of post-house, where the Fates
Change horses, making history change its tune
Then spur away o'er empires and o'er states,
Leaving at last not much besides chronology,
Excepting the post-obits of theology
[Page 14]
'Twas on the sixth of June, about the hour
Of half-past six—perhaps still nearer seven,
When Juan sate within as pretty a bower
As e'er held houri in that heathenish heaven
Described by Mahomet, and ANACREON MOORE,
To whom the lyre and laurels have been given,
With all the trophies of triumphant song—
He won them well, and may he wear them long!
. . . . .
The sun set, and up rose the yellow moon:
The devil's in the moon for mischief; they
Who call'd her CHASTE methinks begun too soon
Their nomenclature; there is not a day,
The longest, not the twenty-first of June,
Sees half the business in a wicked way,
On which three single hours of moonshine smile—
And then she looks so modest all the while.
There is a dangerous silence in that hour,
A stillness, which leaves room for the full soul
To open all itself, without the power
Of calling wholly back its self-control;
The silver light, which hallowing tree and tower,
Sheds beauty and deep softness o'er the whole,
Breaths (sic) also to the heart, and o'er it throws
A loving langour, which is not repose.
(Canto I, St. 103-04, 113-14)
Young Juan was Julia's companion. This sort of familiarity so far threw the lady off her guard, [Page 15] that Don Alphonso, her husband, soon after, made a discovery, which left little doubt of her infidelity.
The pleasant scandal which arose next day,
The nine-days' wonder which was brought to light,
And how Alphonso sued for a divorce,
Were in the English newspapers of course.
If you would like to see the whole proceedings,
The depositions, and the cause at full,
The names of all the witnesses, the pleadings,
Of counsel to nonsuit, or to annul,
There's more than one edition, and the readings
Are various, but they none of them are dull:
The best is that in short-hand ta'en by Gurney,
Who to Madrid on purpose made a journey.
But Donna Inez, to divert the train
Of one of the most circulating scandals
That had for centuries been known in Spain,
At least, since the retirement of the Vandals,
First vow'd (and never had she vow'd in vain)
To Virgin Mary several pounds of candles;
And then, by the advice of some old ladies,
She sent her son to be shipped off from Cadiz.
(Canto I, St. 188-90)

[7] His Lordship, with becoming gravity, intimates that his poem is epic, and is meant to be divided into twelve books. He affirms that he [Page 16] has an advantage above preceding poets, because his story is actually true, and that himself

———and several now in Seville,
Saw Juan's last elopement with the Devil.
(Canto I, St. 203)

[8] The first Canto concludes with certain monitory stanzas requiring the reader to take the author's word for the moral of his poem, and requesting the public, whose approbation he desires, to recollect his epical pretensions to the laurel, he says,—

For fear some prudish readers should grow skittish,
I've brib'd my grandmother's Review—the British.
(Canto I, St. 209)

1.3. [Description of Canto II]

[9] In the second Canto, his Lordship commences a course of reflections on the folly of undue restraint upon youth; these are concluded with the following lines:—

Well—well, the world must turn upon its axis,
And all mankind turn with it, heads or tails,
And live and die, make love, and pay our taxes;
And as the veering wind shifts, shift our sails;
the kind commands us, and the doctor quacks us,
The priest instructs, and so our life exhales,
A little breath, love, wine, ambition, fame,
Fighting, devotion, dust,—perhaps a name.
(Canto II, St. 4)

[Page 17]

[10] After Juan's adventure with Donna Julia, his mother, having so great success with her son's education, set up a Sunday school, and sent Juan, with a tutor named Pedrillo, and a suitable establishment, on board the vessel bound from Cadiz, whose graceful ladies are glowingly described with the usual magic of Lord Byron's pencil, when he depicts female loveliness. The ‘Libertine's’ voyage is boisterous and dangerous. The vessel loses her rudder, and springs a terrible leak. Her masts are cut away, and she is a mere log, tossing on the billows of a tempestuous sea. In this fearful state, the crew become desperate, and lose their subordination. This part of the poem is long, and exhibits a concentration of all the striking peculiarities of the poet. The sailors gave up all for lost, and seized upon the rum-casks; whereon his Lordship says,—

There's nought, no doubt, so much the spirit calms
As rum and true religion; thus it was,
Some plunder'd, some drank spirits, some sung psalms.
(Canto II, St. 34)

[11] In this confusion, Juan preserves equanimity of temper, and resists the demands of the sailors for liquor. [Page 18]

——Even Pedrillo, his most reverend tutor,
Was for some rum a disappointed suitor.
The good old gentleman was quite aghast,
And made a loud and pious lamentation;
Repented all his sins, and made a last
Irrevocable vow of reformation.
(Canto II, St. 36-37)
The storm increased—the pumps were worn out—and the ship's carpenter, with tears in his eyes, told the captian he could do no more.
The ship was evidently settling now
Fast by the head, and all distinction gone,
Some went to prayers again, and made a vow
Of candles to their saints—but there were none
To pay them with; and some look'd o'er the bow;
Some hoisted out the boats; and there was one
That begging Pedrillo for an absolution,
Who told him to be damn'd—in his confusion.
(Canto II, St. 44)

[12] The various preparations for leaving the ship and getting into the boats, are related with such precision, and so naturally, that the reader almost fancies he has before him one of the descriptions of honest Daniel De Foe. Those who know that author's writings intimately—and it is feared few have read more than Robinson Crusoe—will be aware, that this is no small praise of his Lordship; and those who do [Page 19] not, and who admire the noble Lord's works, will not dislike being informed, that De Foe's narratives are masterpieces of truth and simplicity, unequalled by any writer who preceded, and unexcelled by the best authors who have followed him.

[13] It was the twilight of a sunless day. Two boats, which could not contain half the people on board, were hastily manned and overloaded. An unsuccessful attempt was made to construct a raft. The ship gave a heel, and she went down head foremost in a dreadful sea.

Then rose from sea to sky the wild farewell,
Then shriek'd the timid, and stood still the brave,
Then some leap'd overboard with dreadful yell,
As eager to anticipate their grave;
And the sea yawn'd around her like a hell,
And down she suck'd with her the whirling wave,
Like one who grapples with his enemy,
And strives to strangle him before he die.
And first one universal shriek there rush'd,
Louder than the loud ocean, like a crash
Of echoing thunder; and then all was hush'd,
Save the wild wind and the remorseless dash
Of billows; but at intervals there gush'd,
Accompanied with a convulsive splash,
A solitary shriek, the babbling cry
Of some strong swimmer in his agony.
(Canto II, 52-53)
[Page 20] Nine-and-thirty of the crew were saved.
All the rest perish'd; near two hundred souls
Had left their bodies; and, what's worse, alas!
When over Catholics the ocean rolls,
They must wait several weeks before a mass
Takes off one peck of purgatorial coals,
Because, 'till people know what's come to pass,
They won't lay out their money on the dead—
It costs three francs for every mass that's said.
(Canto II, St. 55)

[14] Juan contrived to save himself and Pedrillo, with eight-and-twenty men, in the long-boat. The cutter swamped. The survivors in the long-boat were crowded in a space which left scarce room for motion. This circumstance gives Lord Byron occasion to observe, that the desire of life prolongs it; and, in the course of his illustrations on this tendency to long life, in persons of easy curcumstances, his Lordship observes—of course most befittingly to his subject—

'Tis said that persons living on annuities
Are longer-lived than others—God knows why,
Unless to plague the grantors,—yet, so true it is,
That some, I really think, do never die;
Of any creditors, the worst, a Jew, it is,
And that's their mode of furnishing supply:
In my young days they lent me cash that way,
Which I found very troublesome to pay.
(Canto II, St. 65)

[Page 21]

[15] The reckless crew not husbanding their provision, had exhausted it all by the third day—on the fifth day they killed Juan's spaniel—on the sixth day they ate his hide—

The seventh day, and no wind—the burning sun
Blistered and scorch'd, and, stagnant on the sea,
They lay like carcasses; and hope was none,
Save in the breeze that came not; savagely
They glared upon each other—all was done,
Water, and wine, and food,—and you might see
The longings of the cannibal arise,
(Although they spoke not) in their wolfish eyes.
At length one whisper'd his companion, who
Whispere'd another, and thus it went round,
And then into a hoarser murmur grew,
An ominous, and wild, and desperate sound;
And when his comrade's thought each sufferer knew,
'Twas but his own, suppress'd 'till now, he found:
And out they spoke of lots for flesh and blood,
And who should die to be his fellow's food.
(Canto II, St. 72-73)
The lot fell on Juan's luckless tutor, and the sailors ate him; three or four of them abstained, however, and Juan did not partake.
'Twas better that he did not; for, in fact,
The consequence was awful in the extreme:
For they who were most ravenous in the act,
Went raging mad—Lord! how they did blaspheme!
[Page 22]
And foam and roll, with strange convulsions rack'd:
Drinking salt-water like a mountain stream,
Tearing and grinning, howling, screeching, swearing,
And, with hyena laughter, died despairing.
(Canto II, 79)
Their numbers were much thinned by this infliction.
And next they thought upon the master's mate,
As fattest; but he sav'd himself, because,
Besides being much averse to such a fate,
There were some other reasons; the first was,
He had been rather indisposed of late,
And that which chiefly proved his saving clause,
Was a small present made to him at Cadiz,
By general subscription of the ladies.
(Canto II, St. 81)

[16] Juan abstained from these unnatural banquets, contenting himself with chewing a piece of bamboo and some lead. A shower of rain fell—

And their baked lips, with many a bloody crack,
Suck'd in the moisture, which like nectar stream'd;
Their throats were ovens, their swoln tongues were black,
As the rich man's in hell, who vainly scream'd
To beg the beggar, who could not rain back
A drop of dew, when every drop had seem'd
To taste of heaven.—If this be true, indeed,
Some Christians have a comfortable creed.
(Canto II, St. 86)

[Page 23]

[17] There is an affecting relation of the sufferings of two fathers, who witnessed the death of their famishing children. At length a rainbow appears.

Now overhead a rainbow, bursting through
The scattering clouds, shone, spanning the dark sea,
Resting its bright base on the quivering blue;
And all within its arch appear'd to be
Clearer than that without, and its wide hue
Wax'd broad and waving, like a banner free,
Then changed like to a bow that's bent, and then
Forsook the dim eyes of these shipwreck'd men.
It changed of course; a heavenly cameleon,
The airy child of vapour and the sun,
Brought forth in purple, cradled in vermilion,
Baptized in molten gold, and swathed in dun,
Glittering like crescents o'er a Turk's pavilion,
And blending every colour into one,
Just like a black eye in a recent scuffle,
(For sometimes we must box without the muffle).
(Canto II, St. 91-92)
Nearly at the same time a white bird followed the boat, and tried to perch on it, althought it saw and heard the sailors. Such was the raging hunger of these famishing men, that his Lordship says—
Had it been the dove from Noah's ark
Returning there from her successful search,
[Page 24]
Which in their way that moment chanced to fall,
They would have eat her, olive-branch and all.
(Canto II, St. 95)
Before the boat reached shore, all died, in various agony, except Juan, who was so good a swimmer.
He could, perhaps, have passed the Hellespont;
a feat which his Lordship takes occasion to tell, in the same stanza [Canto II, St. 105], was performed by a Mr. Ekenhead and himself. Juan was saved from perishing on the beach by Haidee, the daughter of a Greek pirate, a houri of perfect loveliness,—
Fit for the model of a statuary,
(A race of mere impostors when all's done,
I've seen much finer women, ripe and real,
Than all the nonsense of their stone ideal.)
I'll tell you why I say so, for 'tis just
One should not rail without a decent cause:
There was an Irish lady, to whose bust
I ne'er saw justice done, and yet she was
A frequent model; and if e'er she must
Yield to stern Time, and Nature's wrinkling laws,
They will destroy a face which mortal thought
Ne'er compass'd, nor less mortal chisel wrought.
(Canto II, St. 118-19)
[Page 25]

[18] Haidee's mode of teaching Juan her language, the modern Greek, occupies several stanzas of description so charming, that Moore might envy his Lordship their grace and nature. It seems that,—

——Juan learn'd his alpha beta better
From Haidee's glance, than any graven letter.
(Canto II, St. 163)
This is too palpable an opportunity for displaying the taste and experience of the noble author to be missed. He, therefore, tells us, in his opinion,—
'Tis pleasing to be school'd in a strange tongue
By female lips and eyes—that is, I mean,
When both the teacher and the taught are young,
As was the case, at least where I have been;3
They smile so when one's right, and when one's wrong
They smile all the more, and then there intervene
Pressure of hands, perhaps even a chaste kiss;—
I learn'd the little that I know by this:
That is, some words of Spanish, Turk, and Greek,
Italian not at all, having not teachers;
Much English I cannot pretend to speak,
Learning that language chiefly from its preachers,
Barrow, South, Tillotson, whom every week
I study, also Blair, the highest reachers
[Page 26]
Of eloquence in piety and prose—
I hate your poets, so read none of those.
As for the ladies, I have nought to say,
A wanderer from the British world of fashion,
Where I, like other "dogs, have had my day."
Like other men too, may have had my passion;
But that, like other things, has pass'd away:
And all her fools whom I could lay the lash on,
Foes, friends, men, women, now are nought to me,
But dreams of what has been, no more to be.
(Canto II, St. 164-66)

[19] There is an undissembled bitterness of feeling in the last stanza, that seems to come from the author's heart. It may be conceived that he wrote the sixth line with something of that maniacal countenance and gritting of the teeth, which a man has when he splits the table with his clenched fist, in the rage of hate and disappointed revenge. But in the last two lines there is an expression of deeply settled melancholy—the tearless grief of one who desires something to be kind to, but who cannot stoop to woo it: who perceives itself alone in the world, and would rather remain so, than manifest a desire to be otherwise. It is the agony of a proud spirit, wounded, but not broken.

[Page 27]

[20] Juan, of course, is well taken care of, and becomes enamoured of his deliverer. The story of their loves is told at length; and is, perhaps, the most beautiful portion of the poem.

They were alone, but but not alone as they
Who shut in chambers think it loneliness;
The silent ocean, and the star-light bay,
The twilight glow, which momently grew less,
The voiceless sands, and dropping caves, that lay
Around them, made them to each other press,
As if there were no life beneath the sky
Save theirs, and that their life could never die.
———— on the lone shore were planted
Their hearts; the stars, their nuptial torches, shed
Beauty upon the beautiful they lighted:
Ocean their witness, and the cave their bed,
By their own feelings hallow'd and united,
their priest was Solitude, and they were wed:
And they were happy, for to their young eyes
Each was an angel, and earth Paradise.
(Canto II, St. 188, 204)

[21] Throughout this poem, his Lordship's muse excels in scenes of fondness and endearment. Towards the close of the second Canto, the endearments of Juan and Haidee are told elaborately, and with singular truth and pathos. The fair Greek watching over Juan while he sleeps, produces two delightful stanzas. [Page 28]

An infant when it gazes on a light,
A child the moment when it drains the breast,
A devotee when soars the Host in sight,
An Arab with a stranger for a guest,
A sailor when the prize has struck in fight,
A miser filling his most hoarded chest,
Feel rapture; but not such true joy are reaping,
As they who watch o'er what they love while sleeping.
For there it lies so tranquil, so beloved,
All that it hath of life with us is living;
So gentle, stirless, helpless, and unmoved,
And all unconscious of the joy 'tis giving;
All it hath felt, inflicted, pass'd, and proved,
Hush'd into depths beyond the watcher's diving;
There lies the thing we love, with all its errors
And all its charms, like death without its terrors.
(Canto II, St. 196-97)

[22] Amongst the stanzas descriptive of the affair between Juan and Haidee, there are two on female love, of exquisite truth.

Alas, the love of woman! it is known
To be a lovely and a fearful thing;
For all of theirs upon that die is thrown,
And if 'tis lost, life hath no more to bring
To them, but mockeries of the past alone,
And their revenge is as the tiger's spring,
Deadly, and quick, and crushing; yet as real
Torture is their's, what they inflict they feel.
[Page 29]
They are right; for man to man so oft unjust,
Is always so to women; one sole bond
Awaits them, treachery is all their trust;
Taught to conceal, their bursting hearts despond
Over their idol, till some wealthier lust
Buys them in marriage—and what rests beyond?
A thankless husband, next a faithless lover,
Then dressing, nursing, praying, and all's over.
(Canto II, St. 199-200)

[23] It is not possible to avoid a sigh of sorrow for him, who with such clear perceptions of truth, sets the fitness of things at nought, and with bacchic recklessness cries—

Let us have wine and woman, mirth and laughter,
Sermons and soda-water the day after.
(Canto II, St. 178)

[24] This is the story of Poem, so far as it proceeds. The second Canto, which concludes the publication, ends with the Author observing, in the 216th stanza—

————— I've finished now
Two hundred and odd stanzas, as before,
That being about the number I'll allow
Each canto of the twelve, or twenty-four;
And laying down my pen, I make my bow,
Leaving Don Juan and Haidee to plead
For them and theirs, with all who deign to read.
(Canto II, St. 216)

[Page 30]

1.4. [On Murray as Publisher]

[25] Not the least extraordinary circumstance connected with the history of this singular poem, is, that the Publisher to the Board of Longitude, and of the Quarterly Review—the Bookseller to the Admiralty, and strenuous supporter of orthodoxy and the Bible Society, is the publisher of Don Juan. If the writer of this had any personal acquaintance with Mr. Murray, he would address him somewhat in these terms:—

Your father was the native of a country proverbial for purity of morals and excess of loyalty: to his fame be it spoken, you inherit a plentiful stock of both: and it has been peculiarly fortunate for your reputation, that neither could be in any danger from the example of those confidential friends you have selected with such felicity. It is impossible to believe, that you could have received the slightest taint of vice from the company of Mr. Gifford, Robert Southey, or John Wilson Croker. Their very names are a guarantee for the possession of moral excellence and political wisdom, and to live in intimacy with such men, without improvement, would indeed be marvellous. The first and last of these eminent characters are practical men of business—they have always had sagacity enough to know, that a "bird in the hand is worth two in the bush," and by [Page 31] making that simple maxim the legitimate standard of loyalty, have profited by the wisdom of the discovery. The second on the list is not exactly of that description, but belongs to a much higher order of merit. Since the days that "Adam delv'd and Eve spun," he has undergone some slight transformation; but as he has at last, that is, for the present, turned Methodist, and fresh pointed his pen to write the life of John Wesley, he has the consolation to feel the force of that amiable doctrine, so zealously propagated by his own pious sect, "the greater the sinner, the greater the saint." His life supplies abundant evidence of all sorts of loyalty, from the jacobinical gothic to the polished corinthian; but let it be remembered, he can now justly boast the high merit of holding fast that which is best. It is said, that this extraordinary saint and sinner, in the early periods of his conversion, felt himself so awkward in the excellent company of his new patrons, that he often stumbled on involuntary errors of rather a ludicrous kind, such as substituting the familiar appellation of Citizen, for the dignified title belonging to the highest order of English rank—nay, if report may be credited, he began a panegyrical poem on British royalty, by a line borrowed from the [Page 32] "Vine-cover'd Hills."4 However, these lapses, as they arose merely from absence of mind and abstraction of thought, were, with the most affable condescension, graciously forgiven, accompanied only with an admonition, that the Laureate should undergo a proper course of drilling, before he ventured much abroad.

[26] But what will, or rather what must, the great moralist and quarterly Reviewer, Mr. Gifford, say, in print, of this new publication from his friend Murray's shop. Neither the partialities of friendship, nor participation in the preparation of the manuscript for the press, can soften that severity of castigation that assuredly awaits the publisher in the Quarterly. Perhaps in some such strain as the following, it will review Don Juan in the next number.

We should not have noticed this abominable production at all, had it not been for the conduct of the publisher of the work, in which it would be difficult to say, whether rank sedition, licentious profligacy of manners, or gloomy infidelity predominates. Of this publisher we had once thought, and still hope better things,—for he is our publisher! We know indeed that his ruling passion is to "touch the siller:" still we believed that the disinterested example of the great and good [Page 33] men, who honoured him with their intimacy, would have worked a change in his taste and habits, and have cured him of his besetting infirmities. But this liberal persuasion, which we fondly indulged, we have been to our cost, compelled to abandon. Neither our morality, nor the morality of our readers, requires that we should visit Mr. Murray's offence with any more permanent mark of our displeasure than this. As he has not put his name upon the title-page of Don Juan, and therefore is not an open sinner, it will be continued upon our wrapper. It is open depravity against which we contend. We wage war against the prophanation of the Sabbath, by bakers keeping the dinners of the poor in their ovens after one o'clock. We oppose ourselves to the open depravity of apple-stalls on that day, and to the sale of Sunday newspapers, which ought to be kept till the Monday. If Mr. Murray were to take his shutters down on the Sunday, and conduct his business openly, we would nave nothing to do with him—but it is another thing if he conceals that he looks over his bill-book, and rectifies his ledger on that day, for that is not an evil example to the lower orders. What we blame in Mr. Murray is the partial concealment of the fact, that he pub [Page 34] lished Don Juan. His want of dexterity in that respect, is not creditable to him as a ‘respectable’ bookseller. The publishers of certain works for which other retail venders have been repeatedly punished, always managed better. Yet we are of opinion, there is great credit due to Mr. Murray for his contrivance, in getting the booksellers to sell the book openly, which he did not choose to publish openly. He has managed them well, by putting them in the front of the battle. It reminds us of a print we often laughed at in the shop-windows, when we were boys; it represented a monkey roasting chesnuts, making use of the cats paws to rake them out of the fire.
Thus far the Quarterly.

[27] There are two stanzas in the Poem, that must not be passed over, because they have been published by Mr. Murray, in direct opposition to his friends of the Courier and Quarterly, in open contempt of Bills of Indictment, and Crown-Office Prosecutions, and in utter defiance of Grand Juries, and the King's Attorney-General. They are a— [Page 35]


Thou shalt believe in Milton, Dryden, Pope;
Thou shalt not set up Wordsworth, Coleridge, Southey;
Because the first is crazed beyond all hope,
The second drunk, the third so quaint and mouthey:
With Crabbe it may be difficult to cope,
And Campbell's Hippocrene is somewhat drouthy,
Thou shalt not steal from Samuel Rogers, nor
Commit—flirtation with the muse of Moore.
Thou shalt not covet Mr. Sotheby's muse,
His Pegasus, nor any thing that's his;
Thou shalt not bear false witness like "the Blues,"
(There's one, at least, is very fond of this);
Thou shalt not write, in short, but what I choose;
This is true criticism, and you may kiss—
Exactly as you please, or not, the rod,
But if you don't, I'll lay it on, by G-d.
(Canto I, St. 205-06)

[28] There cannot possibly be any impropriety in reprinting this from a work which is the property of Mr. Murray, publisher to the Admiralty, and Board of Longitude, and of the Quarterly Review, and the Government Navy List. It is impossible to do wrong in repub [Page 36] lishing it after Mr. Murray, as to whose long deliberation, and the manifold advice he received from friends respecting the poem, Mr. Gifford himself can testify; for he was consulted, amongst others who were deemed worthy the honour to be admitted of counsel on the occasion. The work itself proves more than ordinary care in the publisher, for there are several entire stanzas omitted, and it is not credible that Mr. Murray would let this Parody stand, unless he knew he had the sanction of powerful men.5

[Page 37]

[29] It was reserved for the hardihood of Mr. Murray to usher the poem to the world; and he has done it in despite of every thing which the knot of personages around him affect to hold sacred. No other bookseller who could have read the poem, and pondered upon it—as he has done; and caused it to be read by men of craft and acumen—as he has done; or by men of well-constituted minds—as he might have done; no other man but he who has Government support and Government writers to back him, dare publish Don Juan as it now stands. Mr. Murray is too ‘respectable’ to fear attack, or even insinuation for the immoral tendency of the Poem. He and his quarto book of 227 pages, with only 16 lines in a page, and a magnificent circumference of margin, and a guinea [Page 38] and a half in price, may defy the Society for Suppression of Vice, and

The very place where wicked people go.

[30] With what face can the Attorney-General hereafter rise in a Court of Justice—before an enlightened auditory, and by Information to the Court, on behalf of the King, charge a Defendant, with publishing Impiety, if this Government publisher go free of prosectuion for a work, which, in the eyes of Crown lawyers, must be leprous all over. The last two lines of one stanza6 alludes to the 'Unutterable Name,' with a prophane levity, unsurpassed by any other two lines in the English language. Dare the King's Minsters who are members of the 'Vice Society,' with the society itself at their back, prosecute Mr. Murray?—they dare not! they are old hawks, to be sure, and may fly for a while at feeble sparrows: but he is a bird of too strong a beak and pinion for their attack. Even the Attorney-General dare not try a fall with Don John, who sings the Regent's favourite, 'Glorious Apollo.'

[31] The octavo edition of Don Juan may perhaps [Page 39] greet us in the shop windows with 'JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET,' in as bold a type at the foot of the title-page as his printer's name now stands on the quarto. For as the ostrich, seeking hide itself from travellers in the desert, runs its head into the dirt, Mr. Murray, who has done so too, will discover that he has had no better success than this silly bird. Hence, the octavo edition may also contain an apologetical or explanatory preface—the quarto has none. The pen of that glozing Anit-Jacobin, Mr. Gifford, who takes Mr. Murray's cash, and perhaps his kicks, would leap from the inkstand into its owner's hand, to do a seasonable service to his patron. Mr. Croker will no doubt defend the Admiralty publisher in the Courier. His other friend, Mr. Southey, who has been converted by Methodism and the Sackbut into a rhyming preacher and a Poet-Laureate, and who writes Anti-Reform articles in the Quarterly, will come from the Lakes, and receive the offender's speech and confession, and prune it, and dress it, and give it to the world with a particular account of the culprit's behaviour, and a copy of verses on the melancholy occasion. Mr. Murray published Mr. Southey's defence of Wat Tyler—the Laureate can return the fa [Page 40] vour to his bookseller, by defending Don Juan.

[32] Lord Byron's Dedication of Don Juan to Lord Castlereagh, was suppressed by Mr. Murray, from delicacy to Ministers.7

[33] Q. Why did not Mr. Murray suppress Lord Byron's Parody on the Ten Commandments?

[34] A. Because it contains nothing in ridicule of Ministers, and therefore nothing that they could suppose, would be to the displeasure of Almighty God.


[End Paper Advertisements]


J. D. Dewick, Printer.
46 Barbican.



In order to build anticipation prior to publication, Murray placed this cryptic advertisement in several London papers. [return]
[Hone's note:] This bookseller inserted a List of New Publications in the last Quarterly Review, beginning thus—"Mr. Murray has just published," &c. [return]
Hone's review has an extra "been" at the end of this line. [return]
A radical poem by William Roscoe, 1796. The joke, of course, is that after his apparent turn to Tory political views, Southey still sometimes absent-mindedly quotes works from his radical past. [return]
[Hone's note:] At the Spring Assizes, in 1818, Mr. Russell, a little printer, in Birmingham, was indicted, taken into custody, and compelled to find bail, for publishing the Political Litany, one of the Parodies for which Mr. Hone had been tried, in London, and acquitted. Russell attended with his witnesses at the Summer Warwick Assizes, expecting the trial to come on, and was then informed, that the indictment being removed by certiorari, into the Court of King's Bench, was made a Crown-Office Prosecution, and would not be tried that Assizes. At the Spring Assizes, in March last, he attended, at Warwick, with his witnesses, a second time, agreeably to notice of trial, and Mr. Hone attended on his behalf, with the materials he used in defending himself, on his own trials. The prosecutors, however, did not then choose to go to trial, and he was again sent to Birmingham. He has now lately received another notice of trial, for the Summer Assizes at Warwick, which commence in August, where he will be compelled to get the attendance of his witnesses a third time. This poor man, who has two little motherless children, has been harassed by the prosecution and the persecutions attendant upon it, into a state of insolvency, and has incurred a debt of near one hundred pounds, law expenses, for his defence, besides what he has been out of pocket in other ways. Mr. Murray who isknown to be the most loyal, and reported to be the most opulent bookseller in the United Kingdom, and who is an Official Publisher of the Government, actually publishes a Parody on the Ten Commandments of God, whilst this prosecution is pending against Russell, for Parody on the Litany, which is entirely a human composition;—it remains to be seen, whether the maxim so much vaunted in our Law Courts, that "Justice is even handed, and deals with all alike," be true or not. [return]
[Hone's note:] Stanza XIV p. 10. [return]
Byron's poem was actually dedicated to Robert Southey, not Lord Castlereagh, though certainly there are some stanzas of the Dedication that are highly critical of Castlereagh. Hone's statement is particularly interesting because it reveals Hone's knowledge of the existence of, and some hints regarding the content of, the manuscript of Don Juan. [return]