Manuscript draft of the Dedication and Canto I of Don Juan by Lord Byron

Description

This collection comprises 5 stanzas from the Dedication to Lord Byron's Don Juan, together with stanza 220 from Canto 1. 

How sensitive was this material? 

The dedication begins with an attack on Southey, which Byron extends to Coleridge and Wordsworth

Bob Southey! You're a poet, poet laureate,
And representative of all the race.
Although 'tis true that you turned out a Tory at
Last, yours has lately been a common case.
And now my epic renegade, what are ye at
With all the lakers, in and out of place? 

Though he complains that the Lake Poets appeared to be exclusive, he holds that there is no limit to the number of great poets, though few of those that Byron names are remembered now. 

Two of the five stanzas (13 and 16) show differences from the finally published version: in stanza 13 ‘orator’ is replaced by ‘oracle’, and ‘vile’ by ‘droll’. ‘Ixion’, the name of a character in Greek mythology, who was bound to a burning wheel, is replaced by ‘dull’, to further show his contempt for Southey. 

The dedication was not included in publications of Don Juan until after Byron’s death by which time it had circulated anonymously and was well known.

Transcript

                                                                                        1
                                                                                      187
                                    14th

A ^ botcher bungler even in it’s be disgusting trade
Cobbling it made
The Journeyman of Despotism
And botching - patching - leaving still behind
Something of whih which it’s masters are afraid -
And certain
States to be curbed - & souls to be confined -
So th
Conspiracy or congress to be made,
Cobbling at manacles for all mankind -
A ^ Of ^A tinkering Slavemaker s who mends old Chains
With unrelenting curses for their gains. -
God & Man’s abhorrence for their gains. ^ his gains. -

                                                                                                 2

                                                                                               188
37

                            3d [in pencil]


You Bob - are some ^ wh rather insolent you know -
As being disappointed in your wish
To supersede all past ^ warbles here below -                           
And be the only blackbird in the dish -
And so ^ then you overstrain yourself or so
And tumble downward like the flying flick ^ fish
Gasping on deck - because you soar so ^ too high Bob -
And fall for want ^ lack of moisture quite a dry Bob! -

35

But I who being fond of true philosophy,
          Say very often to my self “Alas -
“All things that have been born are born to die -
         “And Flesh (which Death mows down to Hay) is Grass -
“You’ve passed your youth not so unpleasantly
         “And if you had it oer again - ‘twould pass -
“So thank your Stars that matters are no worse -
         “And read your bible - Sir - & Mind your purse. -

                                                                                                               3.
                                                                                                               189
                                                                    13th
A thing of words and all ^ An oracle of such set trash of phrase
That xxx flatterers flush
Ineffably - legitimately - dull - vile,
That even it’s grossest flatterers dare not praise,
Nor foes - the groaning nations - deign to smile -

Bexxxx
To shrill
Not even a sprightly blunder’s spark can blaze
From that dull Grindstone’s everlasting toil -

That turns
That turns - & turns

That turns - & turns to give ^ give the world a notion
Of endless torments and Perpetual motion. -

                                                                                             4
                                                                                             190
27

                                         11th

Think’st thou - could he the blind old Man arise
Like Samuel from the grave & ^ to freeze once more
The blood of Monarchs with his prophecies -
Or be alive again - again all hoare
With time & trials, & those helpless eyes
And heartless daughters, serene though inly sore - ^ worn - & pale - and poor,
Would he implore ^ adore a Sultan? he obey
The intellectual Eunuch Castlereagh? -
12th

                                                                                               5
                                                                                            191
                                                              16[th]
Where shall I turn me not to view it’s bonds
For I will never feel them, - Italy !

What ^ Yet thy ^ Thy late reviving Roman Soul desponds
Beneath the ^ deep lie this it State=thing breathed oer ^ longed for thee

Above the lie, xxxxxxxxxx thee
         black lie breathed from

Venice and Genoa
-             xxxxxxxxx oer thee
                                 the wretch breathed oer thee

Earth
Thy fetters ^ clanking chains & Erin’s yet green wounds -
Have voices - tongues - to speak to him ^ it ^ cry aloud for me.

Europe has kings
^ kings & slaves - and armies still - ^ slaves, allies, kings - armies still -
And Southey left ^ lived lives to sing them very ill. -


Full title:
'Don Juan': Autograph draft of stanzas 3, 11, 13, 14, 16 of the Dedication and of Canto I, stanza 220
Created:
estimated 1818
Format:
Manuscript / Draft
Creator:
Lord Byron
Copyright:
© GG Byron
Held by:
British Library
Shelfmark:
Ashley MS A326

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