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CAMBRIDGE STUDIES IN ROMANTICISM µ 


BYRON, POETICS AND HISTORY




Jane Stabler offers the ¬rst full-scale examination of Byron™s poetic
form in relation to historical debates of his time. Responding to
recent studies of publishing and audiences in the Romantic period,
Stabler argues that Byron™s poetics developed in response to con-
temporary cultural history and his reception by the English reading
public. Drawing on extensive new archive research into Byron™s cor-
respondence and reading, Stabler traces the complexity of the inter-
textual dialogues that run through his work. For example, Stabler
analyses Don Juan alongside Galignani™s Messenger “ Byron™s principal
source of news about British politics while in Italy “ and refers
to hitherto unpublished letters between Byron™s publishers and his
friends revealing a powerful impulse among his contemporaries to
direct his controversial poetic style to their own political ends. This
fascinating study will be of interest to Byronists and, more broadly,
to scholars of Romanticism in general.

® ¬ is Lecturer in English at the University of Dundee.
She is the author of The Longman Critical Reader on Byron (±) and
Burke to Byron, Barbauld to Baillie ±·°“±° (°°±).
©¤§ µ¤© ©® ®©©

General editors
Professor Marilyn Butler Professor James Chandler
University of Oxford University of Chicago

Editorial board
John Barrell, University of York
Paul Hamilton, University of London
Mary Jacobus, University of Cambridge
Kenneth Johnston, Indiana University
Alan Liu, University of California, Santa Barbara
Jerome McGann, University of Virginia
David Simpson, University of California, Davis


This series aims to foster the best new work in one of the most challenging
¬elds within English literary studies. From the early ±·°s to the early ±°s
a formidable array of talented men and women took to literary composition,
not just in poetry, which some of them famously transformed, but in many
modes of writing. The expansion of publishing created new opportunities for
writers, and the political stakes of what they wrote were raised again by what
Wordsworth called those ˜great national events™ that were ˜almost daily taking
place™: the French Revolution, the Napoleonic and American wars, urbanisa-
tion, industrialisation, religious revival, an expanded empire abroad and the
reform movement at home. This was an enormous ambition, even when it
pretended otherwise. The relations between science, philosophy, religion and
literature were reworked in texts such as Frankenstein and Biographia Literaria; gen-
der relations in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and Don Juan; journalism by
Cobbett and Hazlitt; poetic form, content and style by the Lake School and the
Cockney School. Outside Shakespeare studies, probably no body of writing has
produced such a wealth of response or done so much to shape the responses of
modern criticism. This indeed is the period that saw the emergence of those
notions of ˜literature™ and of literary history, especially national literary history,
on which modern scholarship in English has been founded.
The categories produced by Romanticism have also been challenged by recent
historicist arguments. The task of the series is to engage both with a challenging
corpus of Romantic writings and with the changing ¬eld of criticism they have
helped to shape. As with other literary series published by Cambridge, this one
will represent the work of both younger and more established scholars, on either
side of the Atlantic and elsewhere.
For a complete list of titles published see end of book.
BYRON, POETICS
AND HISTORY

JANE STABLER
°µ¬©¤   ° ®¤© ¦  µ®©© ¦ ©¤§
The Pitt Building, Trumpington Street, Cambridge, United Kingdom

©¤§ µ®©© °
The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 2RU, UK
40 West 20th Street, New York, NY 10011-4211, USA
477 Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne, VIC 3207, Australia
Ruiz de Alarcón 13, 28014 Madrid, Spain
Dock House, The Waterfront, Cape Town 8001, South Africa

http://www.cambridge.org

© Jane Stabler 2004

First published in printed format 2002

ISBN 0-511-03000-2 eBook (Adobe Reader)
ISBN 0-521-81241-0 hardback
For NHR
and MGQR
all these things “ like most things are a lottery “ it may be as well at
least to have the ticket drawn.
(¬, , pp. “)
Contents




Acknowledgements page x
Note on texts xii
Abbreviations xiii

±
Introduction: Byron and the poetics of digression
± ˜Scorching and drenching™: discourses of digression among
±
Byron™s readers
 ˜Breaches in transition™: eighteenth-century digressions

and Byron™s early verse
 Erring with Pope: Hints from Horace and the trouble
·
with decency
 Uncertain blisses: Don Juan, digressive intertextuality and
±°
the risks of reception
µ ˜The worst of sinning™: Don Juan, moral England and
±
feminine caprice
 ˜Between carelessness and trouble™: Byron™s last digressions ±·

±
Notes
µ
Bibliography

Index




ix
Acknowledgements




My work has involved many debts of gratitude and it is a pleasure to
acknowledge them here. I am grateful to the staff of the following insti-
tutions: the Bibliothèque Interuniversitaire of Lille, the Bibliothèque Na-
tionale in Paris, the British Library, the Bodleian Library, the Brotherton
Library, Dundee University Library, Edinburgh University Library,
Glasgow University Library, the House of Lords Record Of¬ce, the
National Library of Scotland, Stirling University Library, St Andrews
University Library, the Special Collections Department, University of
St Andrews. Like many other people who have worked on Byron, I am
indebted to Virginia Murray for her kind help in locating manuscripts
and I would like to thank ® µ for permission to consult and
quote from material in the John Murray Archive. I would also like to
thank the Earl of Lytton for permission to consult and quote from the
Lovelace Papers deposited in the Bodleian Library.
A section of Chapter Two appeared in Essays in Criticism µ°.
(October °°°), °“, and is reprinted by permission of Oxford
University Press. A version of the ¬rst part of Chapter Three appeared
in Translation & Literature  (±), ·“µ, and is reprinted by permission
of the editors and Edinburgh University Press. A version of one section
of Chapter Four appeared in The Byron Journal  (±), “ and is
reprinted by permission of the editor.
I have received kindly encouragement and advice from many friends
and colleagues during the writing of this book. I would particularly like
to thank Alex Alec-Smith, Michael Alexander, Bernard Beatty, Alison
Chapman, Peter Cochran, Robert Crawford, Richard Cronin, Jonathan
Cutmore, Tom Duncan, Peter Easingwood, Fiona Gaman, Marilyn
Gaull, Jo-Anne George, Jill Heydt-Stevenson, Abi Holt, Gwen Hunter,
Peter Isaac, Molly Lefebure, Ralph Lloyd Jones, Malcolm Kelsall,
Sally Kilmister, Peter Kitson, Gregory P. Kucich, Michael O™Neill,
Sarah Poynting, David Robb, Andrew Roberts, Bill Ruddick, Victor
x
Acknowledgements xi
Skretkowicz, Jean Spence, Jim Stewart, Peter Vassallo, Stephen Wall,
Rob Watt, Tim Webb, Mary Wedd, Jonathan Wordsworth, Keith
Williams and Duncan Wu. My family, my husband™s family, Drummond
and Vivian Bone, David Fairer, Lawrence and Mary James, Seamus
Perry and Nicola Trott have offered generous hospitality, vigorous con-
versation and good cheer over many years and they have seen my work
on Byron through all its digressions.
I am deeply indebted to Drummond Bone, Richard Cronin, David
Fairer, Andrew Nicholson, Nicholas Roe and Susan Wolfson for reading
and commenting on different chapters at various stages. Their schol-
arly expertise, generously shared knowledge and shrewd criticism have
greatly improved the book; any clumsiness or errors which remain are my
responsibility. I bene¬ted from the work of two anonymous Cambridge
University Press readers and owe the ¬rst one in particular a great deal
for his or her detailed editorial observations and suggestions. I am most
grateful to Rose Bell and Rachel De Wachter for seeing the book through
the press. Finally I would like to thank Josie Dixon, former commis-
sioning editor of Cambridge University Press, for her initial interest in
the book and her successor, Linda Bree, and the Cambridge Studies in
Romanticism Series Editors for carrying the book forward with contin-
ued enthusiasm.
Note on texts




All quotations from Byron™s poetry unless otherwise stated are taken from
CPW. Childe Harold™s Pilgrimage and Don Juan are referred to by canto and
stanza numbers; all other poems are referred to by line reference or
stanza and line reference.
Plays are referred to by act, scene, and line. The edition of Shakespeare
used is The Arden Shakespeare, second series, general editors: Harold F.
Brooks, Harold Jenkins and Brian Morris (London and New York:
Methuen, ±µ± “). All references to Paradise Lost are taken from Mil-
ton, Paradise Lost, (ed.) Alastair Fowler, nd edn (Harlow: Longman, ±;
repr. ±): references are to book and line numbers.
All references to the OED are to the Oxford English Dictionary, nd
edn, prepared by J.A. Simpson and E.S.C. Weiner, ° vols. (Oxford:
Clarendon Press, ±).
All quotations from the Bible are from the Authorised Version.




xii
Abbreviations




BLJ Lord Byron, Byron™s Letters and Journals, (ed.) Leslie A.
Marchand, ± vols. (London: John Murray, ±·“)
CPW Lord Byron, The Complete Poetical Works, (ed.) Jerome J.
McGann, · vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, ±°“)
ELH English Literary History
GM Galignani™s Messenger
GLG Galignani™s Literary Gazette
HLRO House of Lords Record Of¬ce
OED Oxford English Dictionary
PMLA Publication of the Modern Language Association of America
RR, A Donald H. Reiman (ed.), The Romantics Reviewed: Contemporary
Reviews of British Romantic Writers, Part A: The Lake Poets,  vols.
(New York and London: Garland Publishing, ±·)
RR, B Donald H. Reiman (ed.), The Romantics Reviewed: Contemporary
Reviews of British Romantic Writers, Part B: Byron and Regency Soci-
ety Poets, µ vols. (New York and London: Garland Publishing,
±·)
RR, C Donald H. Reiman (ed.), The Romantics Reviewed: Contemporary
Reviews of British Romantic Writers, Part C: Shelley, Keats, and
London Radical Writers,  vols. (New York and London: Garland
Publishing, ±·)
SEL Studies in English Literature




xiii
Introduction: Byron and the poetics of digression




More delicate than the historians™ are the map-makers™ colors.
Elizabeth Bishop, ˜The Map™

In April ±± Byron™s plans to leave England were well under way. He had
commissioned the Napoleonic carriage which would carry him across
Europe and on ± April the deed of separation from Lady Byron was
completed. Byron signed-off from his marriage with an epigram which
˜the lawyers objected to . . . as super¬‚uous™:
A year ago you swore, fond she!
˜To love, to honour™, and so forth:
Such was the vow you pledged to me,
And here™s exactly what ™tis worth.±
This bitter full stop is a textual manifestation of the experience of sever-

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