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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Lord Byron to John Murray, 31 August 1821

Life of Byron: to 1806
Life of Byron: 1806
Life of Byron: 1807
Life of Byron: 1808
Life of Byron: 1809
Life of Byron: 1810
Life of Byron: 1811
Life of Byron: 1812
Life of Byron: 1813
Life of Byron: 1814
Life of Byron: 1815
Life of Byron: 1816 (I)
Life of Byron: 1816 (II)
Life of Byron: 1817
Life of Byron: 1818
Life of Byron: 1819
Life of Byron: 1820
Life of Byron: 1821
Life of Byron: 1822
Life of Byron: 1823
Life of Byron: 1824
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“Ravenna, August 31st, 1821.

“I have received the Juans, which are printed so carelessly, especially the fifth canto, as to be disgraceful to me, and not creditable to you. It really must be gone over again with the manuscript, the errors are so gross;—words added—changed—so as to make cacophony and nonsense. You have been careless of this poem because some of your squad don’t approve of it; but I tell you that it will be long before you see any thing half so good as poetry or writing. Upon what principle have you omitted the note on Bacon and Voltaire? and one of the concluding stanzas sent as an addition?—because it ended, I suppose, with—
“And do not link two virtuous souls for life
Into that moral centaur, man and wife?

“Now, I must say, once for all, that I will not permit any human being to take such liberties with my writings because I am absent. I desire the omissions to be replaced (except the stanza on Semiramis)—particularly the stanza upon the Turkish marriages; and I request that the whole be carefully gone over with the MS.

“I never saw such stuff as is printed:—Gulleyaz instead of Gulbeyaz, &c. Are you aware that Gulbeyaz is a real name, and the other nonsense? I copied the cantos out carefully, so that there is no excuse, as the printer read, or at least prints, the MS. of the plays without error.

“If you have no feeling for your own reputation, pray have some little for mine. I have read over the poem carefully, and I tell you, it is
520 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1821.
Poetry. Your little envious knot of parson-poets may say what they please: time will show that I am not in this instance mistaken.

“Desire my friend Hobhouse to correct the press, especially of the last canto, from the manuscript as it is. It is enough to drive one out of one’s reason to see the infernal torture of words from the original. For instance the line—
“And pair their rhymes as Venus yokes her doves—
is printed—
“And praise their rhymes, &c.
Also ‘precarious’ for ‘precocious;’ and this line, stanza 133,
And this strong extreme effect to tire no longer.
Now do turn to the manuscript and see if I ever wrote such a line: it is not verse.

“No wonder the poem should fail (which, however, it won’t, you will see) with such things allowed to creep about it. Replace what is omitted, and correct what is so shamefully misprinted, and let the poem have fair play; and I fear nothing.

“I see in the last two numbers of the Quarterly a strong itching to assail me (see the review of ‘The Etonian’): let it, and see if they sha’n’t have enough of it. I do not allude to Gifford, who has always been my friend, and whom I do not consider as responsible for the articles written by others.

“You will publish the plays when ready. I am in such a humour about this printing of Don Juan so inaccurately that I must close this.


“P.S. I presume that you have not lost the stanza to which I allude? It was sent afterwards: look over my letters and find it.”