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[Canto III. originally included almost all the stanzas which now form Canto IV. Cantos III., IV., and V. were published together, in 8vo., in August, 1821. The following are extracts from Lord Byron's letters to Mr. Murray ::
Ravenna. December 4. 1819.-" The third Canto of Don Juan is completed, in about two hundred stanzas; very decent, I believe, but do not know, and it is useless to discuss."
December 10. 1819. — “ I have finished the third Canto, but the things I have read and heard discourage all further publication - at least for the present. The cry is up, and cant is up. I should have no objection to return the price of the copyright.”
February 7. 1820. — “ I have cut the third Canto into two, because it was too long; and I tell you this beforehand, because in case of any reckoning between you and me, these two are only to go for one, as this was the original form, and, in fact, the two together are not longer than one of the first : so remember that I have not made this division to double upon you. - I have not yet sent off the Cantos, and have some doubt whether they ought to be published, for they have not the spirit of the first. The outcry has not frightened but it has hurt me, and I have not written con amore this time."
October 12. 1820.-" I don't feel inclined to care further about Don Juan. What do you think a very pretty Italian lady said to me the other day? She had read it in the French, and paid me some compliments, with due DRAWBACKS, upon it. I answered, that what she said was true, but that I suspected it would live longer than Childe Harold. — ' Ah, but' (said she) ' I would rather have the fame of Childe Harold for three years than an IMMORTALITY of Don Juan!' The truth is, that it is toO TRUE, and the women hate many things which strip off the tinsel of sentiment; and they are right, as it would rob them of their weapons. I never knew a woman who did not hate De Grammont's Memoirs for the same reason."
We subjoin a single specimen of the contemporary criticism on Cantos III., IV., and V.
“ It seems to have become almost an axiom in the literary world, that nothing is so painful to the sensibilities of an author as the palpable neglect of his productions. From this species of mortification, no poet has ever, perhaps, been more fully exempt than Lord Byron. None of his publications have failed in at least exciting a sufficient portion of general in. terest and attention; and even those among them which the scrutinising eye of criticism might deem somewhat unworthy of his powers, have never compelled him, like many of his poetical brethren, to seek refuge from the apathy and want of discernment of contemporaries, in the consoling anticipation of posthumous honours and triumphs. But, if we are to infer, from the axiom already alluded to, that extensive notoriety must be pleasing 4
in the same proportion that neglect is distressing to an author, then none of his lordship's productions can afford him so ample a field for self-congratulation as the Don Juan. Revilers and partisans have alike contributed to the popularity of this singular work; and the result is, that scarcely any poem of the present day has been more generally read, or its continuation more eagerly and impatiently awaited. Its poetical merits have been ex. tolled to the skies by its admirers, and the Priest and the Levite, though they have joined to anathematise it, have not, when they came in its way, passed by on the other side.'
“ But little progress is made in the history and adventures of the hero in these three additional cantos. The fact is, however, that nothing has appeared, from the beginning, to be farther from the author's intention, than to render his Don Juan any thing like a regular narrative. On the contrary, its general appearance tends strongly to remind us of the learned philosopher's treatise — De rebus omnibus et quibusdam aliis.' And here we cannot avoid remarking, what an admirable method those persons must possess of reconciling contradictions, who, in the same breath, censure the poem for its want of plan, and impeach the writer of a deliberate design against the religion and government of the country. His lordship has him. self given what appears to us a very candid exposition of his motives
the fact is, that I have nothing plann'd, Unless it were to be a moment merry,
A novel word in my vocabulary.' Indeed, the whole poem has completely the appearance of being produced in those intervals in which an active and powerful mind, habitually engaged in literary occupation, relaxes from its more serious labours, and amuses itself with comparative trifling. Hence the narrative is interrupted by continual digressions, and the general character of the language is that of irony and sarcastic humour ;-an apparent levity, which, however, often serves but as a veil to deep reflection. Nor can the talent of the master. hand be always concealed : involuntarily betrays itself in the touches of the pathetic and sublime which frequently present themselves in the course of the poem ; in the thoughts 'too big for utterance, and too deep for tears,' which are interspersed in various parts of it.” — CAMPBELL.]