1837 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lord Byron

Caroline Norton to John Murray, 4 November 1837; Smiles, A Publisher and his Friends: Memoir of John Murray (1891) 2:414-15.



November 4th, 1837.

DEAR SIR,

I have received "Don Juan" and the October Quarterly.... In thanking you for the two volumes of Byron belonging to the present beautiful edition, I must tell you that I have never read "Don Juan," through before, which very few women of my age in England could say, — and which I do not mind owning, since it adds greatly to the pleasure with which I perused the poem. I am afraid, in spite of the beauty, the wit, and the originality of the work, I think, with the Guiccioli — "Mi rincrese solo che Don Giovanni non resti al inferno." It is a book which no woman will ever like, whether for the reasons given by the author, or on other accounts, I will not dispute. To me the effect is like hearing some sweet and touching melody familiar to me as having been sung by a lost friend and companion, suddenly struck up in quick time with all the words parodied.

I am in town for a short time, occupied with lawyers and law — as usual. I used to boast of my partiality for the Bar as a profession, but I begin to think it would be pleasanter to follow a marching regiment than to see the seamy side of this intellectual trade.

Who has sprung up as Mrs. Norton in Bentley's Miscellany! It is pretty cool of the lady taking the name and title of my husband's wife; and I do not much like the mistake, as I have been too ill to write for those to whom I was bound by the bond of hire.

Yours ever,

CAROLINE NORTON.