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Difficile est propriè communia dicere. - HOR.
Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no inore cakes and ale?-Yes, by Saint Anne, and ginger shall be hot i' the mouth, too!
SHAKSPEARE'S Twelfth Night, or What you Will.
THE reader of the "Notices of the Life of Lord Byron" is already in possession of abundant details, concerning the circumstances under which the successive cantos of DON JUAN were produced. We think it right, however, to repeat, in this place, some of the most striking passages of the Poet's own letters, with reference to this performance :
September 19. 1818.-" I have finished the First Canto (a long one, of about 180 octaves) of a poem in the style and manner of Beppo, encouraged by the good success of the same. It is called Don Juan, and is meant to be a little quietly facetious upon every thing. But I doubt whether it is not at least, as far as it has yet gone too free for these very modest days. However, I shall try the experiment anonymously; and if it don't take, it will be discontinued. It is dedicated to Southey, in good, simple, savage verse, upon the Laureate's politics, and the way he got them."
January 25. 1819.-"Print it entire, omitting, of course, the lines on Castlereagh, as I am not on the spot to meet him. I have acquiesced in the request and representation; and having done so, it is idle to detail my arguments in favour of my own self-love and poeshie;' but I protest. If the poem has poetry, it would stand; if not, fall; the rest is leather and prunello, and has never yet affected any human production pro or con.' Dulness is the only annihilator in such cases. As to the cant of the day, I despise it, as I have ever done all its other finical fashions, which become you as paint became the ancient Britons. If you admit this prudery, you must omit half Ariosto, La Fontaine, Shakspeare, Beaumont, Fletcher, Massinger, Ford, all the Charles Second writers; in short, something of most who have written before Pope and are worth reading, and much of
Pope himself. Read him-most of you don't-but do- and I will forgive you; though the inevitable consequence would be, that you would burn all I have ever written, and all your other wretched Claudians of the day (except Scott and Crabbe) into the bargain."
February 1. 1819." I have not yet begun to copy out the Second Canto, which is finished, from natural laziness, and the discouragement of the milk and water they have thrown upon the First. I say all this to them as to you, that is, for you to say to them, for I will have nothing underhand. If they had told me the poetry was bad, I would have acquiesced; but they say the contrary, and then talk to me about morality—the first time I ever heard the word from any body who was not a rascal that used it for a purpose. I maintain that it is the most moral of poems; but if people won't discover the moral, that is their fault, not mine."
April 6. 1819." You sha'n't make canticles of my cantos. The poem will please, if it is lively; if it is stupid, it will fail: but I will have none of your damned cutting and slashing. If you please, you may publish anonymously; it will perhaps be better; but I will battle my way against them all, like a porcupine."
August 12. 1819." You are right, Gifford is right, Crabbe is right, Hobhouse is right-you are all right, and I am all wrong; but do, pray, let me have that pleasure. Cut me up root and branch; quarter me in the Quarterly; send round my disjecti membra poetæ,' like those of the Levite's concubine; make me, if you will, a spectacle to men and angels; but don't ask me to alter, for I won't: I am obstinate and lazy- and there's the truth. -You ask me for the plan of Donny Johnny: I have no plan; I had no plan; but I had or have materials; though if, like Tony Lumpkin, I am to be snubbed so when I am in spirits,' the poem will be naught, and the poet turn serious again. If it don't take, I will leave it off where it is, with all due respect to the public; but if continued, it must be in my own way. You might as well make Hamlet (or Diggory) act mad' in a strait waistcoat, as trammel my buffoonery, if I am to be a buffoon; their gestures and my thoughts would only be pitiably absurd and fudicrously constrained. Why, man, the soul of such writing is its licence; at least the liberty of that licence, if one likes-not that one should abuse it. It is like Trial by Jury and Peerage, and the Habeas Corpus-a very fine thing, but chiefly in the reversion; because no one wishes to be tried for the mere pleasure of proving his possession of the privilege. But a truce with these reflections. You are too earnest and eager about a work never intended to be serious. Do you suppose that I could have any intention but to giggle and make giggle ?-a playful satire, with as little poetry as could be helped, was what I meant. And as to