site logo

Lord Byron And My Grandmother's Review

At the close of the first canto of Don Juan, its noble author, by way

of propitiating the reader for the morality of his poem, says:--

"The public approbation I expect,

And beg they'll take my word about the moral,

Which I with their amusement will connect,

As children cutting teeth receive a coral;

Meantime, they'll doubtless please to recollect

My epical pretensions to the

For fear some prudish reader should grow skittish,

I've bribed my Grandmother's Review--the British.

I sent it in a letter to the editor,

Who thank'd me duly by return of post--

I'm for a handsome article his creditor;

Yet if my gentle muse he please to roast,

And break a promise after having made it her,

Denying the receipt of what it cost,

And smear his page with gall instead of honey,

All I can say is--that he had the money."

Canto I. st. ccix. ccx.

Now, "the British" was a certain staid and grave high-church review, the

editor of which received the poet's imputation of bribery as a serious

accusation; and, accordingly, in his next number after the publication

of Don Juan, there appeared a postscript, in which the receipt of any

bribe was stoutly denied, and the idea of such connivance altogether

repudiated; the editor adding that he should continue to exercise his

own judgment as to the merits of Lord Byron, as he had hitherto done

in every instance! However, the affair was too ludicrous to be at once

altogether dropped; and, so long as the prudish publication was in

existence, it enjoyed the sobriquet of "My Grandmother's Review."

By the way, there is another hoax connected with this poem. One day

an old gentleman gravely inquired of a printseller for a portrait of

"Admiral Noah"--to illustrate Don Juan!

* * * * *