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Campbell. (MS., John Murray Archive)
Here we can see how Byron™s friends in England loaded Hints from Horace
with different personal and political in¬‚ections. For Murray, the poem
offered the potential that Byron would return to the conservative fold of
Gifford and the Quarterly, while the delay in publishing the Hints could
be attributed to Hobhouse™s ill-advised involvement with radical politics.
In a letter of  November ±°, Murray told Byron that he had not
yet received the Hints from Hobhouse (who was ˜radicalizing at Battle
Abbey™). Hobhouse, on the other hand, associated the Hints with a failure
on Byron™s part to honour old friendships and commit himself to the
present reformist cause. On  November, Hobhouse wrote again to say
that he had located the Hints from Horace. He noted immediately that it
was out of joint with ˜the present state™ of Byron™s friendships and he
even suggested that there might be little point in publishing the poem:
I have looked out the Hints “ by heavens we must have some ˜cutting and slashing™
in order to qualify them for the present state of your friendships literary &
others “ but as I said before the hints are good “ good to give though not likely
to be taken “ Prose & all shall be overhauled. (Graham, Byron™s Bulldog, p. °)
 Byron, Poetics and History
Byron continued to ask for the proofs throughout September, October,
November and December ±° when he was involved with the aftermath
of the shooting at Ravenna “ an incident of peculiar speci¬city which
prompted one of the most famous narrative digressions in Don Juan. On
µ January ±± Murray acknowledged Byron™s letter of ± December in-
cluding the account of the assassination of the commandant. He advised
Byron to avoid any risky entanglement in Italian politics:
Italy is in a Sad State but a foreigner never fares well in foreign troubles & it is a
great comfort to your friends here to know that you are too wise to interfere. Ev-
ery Letter that I receive and every poem that you compose, render [sic] your life
more valuable to this country, and I trust that you will not put it to uncalled for or
thankless hopeless hazard “ “ It is as you say a strange people “ most absurdly &
barbarously gouverned [sic] “ This Nation will take no part on either side “
I have sent your Lordship every Sheet upon which Mr Gifford had made his
marks and as your corrections in all the others have been carefully attended to
by him, I hope when I receive the last proof sent you back that we may instantly
publish. (MS., John Murray Archive).

For Murray, the various stages of retrieving and correcting Hints from
Horace were marked by a desire to quell Byron™s involvement in English
or Italian politics. For Byron, the poem offered a chance to inveigh against
prevailing codes of social morality and taste. On ±± January ±± Byron™s
journal entry records that he had corrected the Hints from Horace (just after
reading Campbell™s defence of Pope (BLJ, ©©©, p. ±)) and he wrote letters
on the same day offering Murray a new preface and informing him that
a portion of the Hints was still missing:
I . . . have made the few corrections I shall make in what I have seen at least. “
I will omit nothing and alter little; “ the fact is (as I perceive) “ that I wrote a
good deal better in ±±± “ than I have ever done since. “ I care not a sixpence
whether the work is popular or not. (BLJ, ©©©, p. °)

In a note at the end of the galley proof of Hints from Horace (probably
dated ±± January (BLJ, ©©©, p. ±)), Byron protested against ˜cutting
and slashing™ and gave Murray further instructions about appending the
prose material on Pope:
“ “ I will allow none of you to dock; except Gifford. “ “ Will you have the goodness
also to put all that regards Pope (in the prose letter to B[lackwood™s] Editor sent
last Spring to you) as a note under the name of Pope [where it?] ¬rst occurs in this
Essay (which it does [begin?]) as that part of the letter was in fact distinct from
the rest of it, it will do as well here. When you talk of altering and omitting you
should remember that all the English refers to passages in the Latin “ and that
µ
˜Hints from Horace™ and the trouble with decency
the merit in this kind of writing consists in the adaptation “ now “ to omit or alter
much would destroy the closeness of the allusions. (BLJ, ©©©, p. ±)
Throughout February ±±, Byron sent impatient reminders to
Murray about the missing portion of proofs. Meanwhile, the
Pope/Bowles controversy which had started in November ±± was well
underway: Byron wrote his Letter to John Murray Esqre. on · February
±±. On  February the Ravenna Journal records that two notes on the
Pope/Bowles controversy were dispatched to Murray (BLJ, ©©©, p. µ°).
On ± March ±± Byron wrote to Murray acknowledging receipt of an-
other proof of the Hints but complaining that it was without the Latin
and without the note on Pope (though it did contain the passage on
Jeffrey which Byron had instructed Murray to remove). On  March
±± Murray wrote to tell Byron that
The Letter about Pope was read yesterday by Mr. Gifford to whom I took
it the moment after its arrival “ he likes it very much & told me to print it
immediately & Mr Gifford will take care to see it carefully through the Press.
(MS., John Murray Archive)
Interestingly, in a letter of ° March, Murray reported that Gifford had
recommended the suppression of the note on Lady Montagu, which
dealt with Pope in the context of English sexual mores. This letter
suggests that Gifford was reluctant to authorise Byron™s distinctive par-
ticularity of allusion. Indeed, hitherto unpublished letters reveal that
Gifford was probably responsible for the non-publication of the Hints
from Horace during Byron™s lifetime.
On · March ±± Murray wrote to tell Byron that the Letter on the
Pope/Bowles controversy had been well received:
I sent the additions to the Letter, without reading it to the printer for the Letter
was advertised for publication this day & was on the point of issuing “ It is very
gratifying to me to be able to say that Gifford, Scott, Merivale Sotheby, Morritt
& other few who have seen it consider it admirably done “ Your prose is in the
very happiest & most original taste & Style & you have in the most lively &
convincing & gentlemanly manner compleatly proved your point “ Indeed yr
prose is excellent “ the Preface to the Doge equally in good taste
. . . I believe I told you that Gifford desired me to tell you how very highly
he estimates your Prose “ & he always dwells with delight upon the unrivalled
purity of the Blank Verse of this Tragedy “
Gifford does not agree in your estimation of the <English> Hints from
Horace “ but I will print it “ Don Juan  “  “ µ “ in one Vol “ & Pulci “ Dante “
Horace in another “ & let the [sic] ¬‚oat on the Waters of Public Opinion. (MS.,
John Murray Archive)
 Byron, Poetics and History
This is the ¬rst indication we have that Gifford had reservations about the
Hints from Horace. Although Murray offered to go ahead with publication
regardless of Gifford™s view, he must have known that Byron™s immense
respect for Gifford as an editor and mentor would cause him to hesitate.
Murray™s brief report of Gifford™s negative response to the Hints was
reinforced in his question to Byron of  July: ˜Shall I now print the
Hints & Pulci anonymously “ Gifford does not like the Hints & so let
them take their chance.™° Gifford™s reservations supply a reason for
what has been seen as an unaccountably sudden loss of interest in the
Hints on Byron™s part.± In September, Byron referred to the Hints as
an unpublished asset of over ·°° lines, but by March ±, a year after
Byron had received the new proofs, the poem remained unpublished. By
this time Byron was expressing reservations about the gap between the
poem™s composition and its appearance. He wrote to Moore on  March
±, listing his unpublished works which included the Hints “ ˜written
in ±±±, but a great deal, since, to be omitted™ and ˜several prose things,
which may, perhaps, as well remain unpublished™ (BLJ, ©, p. ±±).
Delay, uncertainty and crossed purposes had blocked the publication
of Hints from Horace. The dif¬culty Byron experienced in recovering the
Hints from his friend and later from his publisher, and his failure in getting
them to support this and the Don Juan venture, became part of the fabric
of both poems. Horatian irony came to be entangled with the irony
of a poet addressing friends who told him he was squandering away
his talents. Byron™s commitment to the cause of literary taste (which
he converted into the cause of political reform) also led him to recast
Pope™s role in the poem. These pressures on the text constitute the main
difference between the ±± and ±±± versions of Hints from Horace.
The ¬rst textual emendation of the Hints in ±± occurs in the opening
couplet:
Who would not laugh if Lawrence, hired to grace
His costly canvass with each ¬‚atter™d face.
This was adjusted to remove the mercantile element of both lines and to
introduce the concept of the ˜classic™ work of art:
Who would not laugh, if Lawrence, skilled to grace
His classic canvass with each ¬‚atter™d face.
(CPW, ©, p. )

The correction shows a shift towards the terms of aesthetic evaluation in
Byron™s Letter to John Murray Esqre. (±±). The second verse emendation
·
˜Hints from Horace™ and the trouble with decency
was the cancellation of the couplet:
Satiric rhyme ¬rst sprang from sel¬sh spleen.
You doubt “ see Dryden, Pope, St. Patrick™s dean.
(±±a“b. CPW ©, p. )
In ±±± this had been a digression from the Latin accompanied by a
prose note:
MacFlecknoe, and the Dunciad, and all Swift™s lampooning ballads. Whatever their
other works may be, these originated in personal feelings, and angry retort on
unworthy rivals; and though the ability of these satires elevates the poetical, their
poignancy detracts from the personal character of the writers. (CPW, ©, p. )
This shows the Byron of ±±± falling in with the taste of the times (it is
almost exactly Joseph Warton™s line on Pope) and the desire to suppress
˜personal™ attacks in print. The note was cancelled in ±° for the obvious
reason that it detracted from the wholly positive view of Pope Byron
now wished to uphold. The different manifestations of ˜Pro-™ and ˜Anti-
Augustanism™ in the ¬rst three decades of the nineteenth century have
been traced by Upali Amarasinghe, but the full complexity of Byron™s
engagement has never been realised.
If Byron™s instructions about appending a prose note to Hints from
Horace on ˜all that regards Pope™ from the ˜Observations™ pamphlet had
been followed, much of the general satire of the poem would have been
redirected against the supporters of Bowles and the Lake School. Only
because of the discussions already outlined between Byron, Murray,
Hobhouse and Gifford is this note missing from all published versions of
the poem. The new prose note would have emphasised the importance
of rhyme in Byron™s aesthetic hierarchy:
The attorneys™ clerks, and other self-educated Genii found it easier to distort
themselves to the new Models “ than to toil after the symmetry of him who
had enchanted their fathers . . . Blank Verse “ which unless in the Drama “ no
one except Milton ever wrote who could rhyme “ became the order of the day,
or else such rhyme as looked still blanker than the verse without it. (Nicholson,
Complete Miscellaneous Prose, p. ±±)
Byron followed these comments with the startling suggestion that even
Paradise Lost might have been ˜more nobly conveyed to Posterity™ in
Spenserian stanza form or in terza rima. One of the reasons for advo-
cating rhyme appears to be that its dif¬culty would restore prestige to
poetry as formal discipline would retard the publication of work by the
˜New School™ and ˜Mr Southey™s Joan of Arc . . . might then have taken
up six months instead of weeks in the composition™ (p. ±±).
 Byron, Poetics and History
Byron™s conviction that good verse ought to exemplify ˜the fascination
of what™s dif¬cult™ had a number of outcomes: it led to his scathing criti-
cism of John Keats™s ˜Sleep and Poetry™ and it meant that the verse texture
of Don Juan challenged the critical orthodoxies of the Lake School. We
have lost the sense of how deeply unpopular traditional forms of rhyme
were becoming to one branch of criticism in the early nineteenth cen-
tury. Rhyme had been deemed ˜unfavourable™ to the sublime by such
eighteenth-century critics as Hugh Blair and Daniel Webb, and in ±·
William Crowe ruled that the ˜quick return of rhyme destroys the gravity
and dignity of verse™.µ The Lake School had popularised blank verse as
the vehicle of natural feeling and Wordsworth and Coleridge criticised
the ˜compulsory juxta-position™ and ˜antithetical manner™ they associated
with Augustan arti¬ciality. In this light, Hints from Horace and Don Juan
may be seen as attempts to counter the lava ¬‚ow of individual imagina-
tion by reintroducing shared (if archaic) forms of discrimination. From
one point of view this looks like aristocratic affectation, but from another
it may be read as a democratic desire to keep poetry as a communal dis-
course. At the same time, however, Byron had to recognise that rhyming
without readers was a bit like whistling in the dark.
The effect of Hints from Horace on Don Juan is complex and multi-
layered, but we can see that a signi¬cant general trait was to implant
awareness of readerly fallibility into the texture of the poem. The aware-
ness of the unpredictability of audience reaction gradually alters the
texture of Byron™s later poetry. Byron™s preoccupation with Hints from
Horace coincided with a directionless stage in the composition of Don
Juan: he had been dissatis¬ed with cantos ©©© and © and pronounced the
¬rst draft of ©©©, ˜very decent . . . and as dull “as the last new Comedy”
(BLJ, ©©, p. µ). Although McGann states that canto  was written ˜in the
context of [Byron™s] own revived interest in Hints from Horace . . . which
seemed, in late ±°, to reproach him from the past™ (CPW, , p. ·), it is
worth stressing that Byron had all but completed canto  before the long-
awaited proofs of Hints arrived in Ravenna. The last addition, stanza ±µ,
was sent to Murray on ± March ±±, in the same letter in which By-
ron acknowledged the arrival of the (still imperfect) second instalment
of proofs for the Hints. So canto  was composed in the anticipation that
Horatian and Popean satire should make a difference to the ˜very utter-
most decline and degradation of Literature™ (BLJ, ©©, p. ±·µ) while cantos
©, ©©, and ©©© interweave the realisation that a great deal had altered
˜since™, especially in the poet™s relationship with his readers and publisher.
The ±±± Hints from Horace assumed that Byron™s reader would be
able to follow the ˜closeness of the allusion™ and the deviations from the

˜Hints from Horace™ and the trouble with decency
Horatian text. The ±± encounter with the poem introduces a different
sort of literary tension in that the poem Byron thought of as an ˜Epistle
to Hobhouse™ attempts to recover a relationship with its addressee while
simultaneously alienating itself from Hobhouse and from almost every
other English reader as well. The great paradox of Hints from Horace is
that just as Byron moved towards to the literary values of Murray and
Gifford, he broke away from the political culture they represented.
Rising tension between Byron and his readership is legible in the
preface to Marino Faliero (written between ±·“ August ±°):
I cannot conceive any man of irritable feeling putting himself at the mercies
of an audience: “ the sneering reader, and the loud critic, and the tart review,
are scattered and distant calamities; but the trampling of an intelligent or of an
ignorant audience on a production which . . . has been a mental labour to the
writer, is a palpable and immediate grievance, heightened by a man™s doubt of
their competency to judge, and his certainty of his own imprudence in electing
them his judges.

Following this ˜palpable™ sense of rejection, Byron echoes Johnson™s ver-
dict on marriage and celibacy:
Were I capable of writing a play which could be deemed stageworthy, success
would give me no pleasure, and failure great pain. (CPW, ©, p. °µ)

When Marino Faliero was performed, Kinnaird reported surprise at the
responsiveness of the audience: ˜It was very affective “ The audience
felt it too. I could not have believed an English audience so sensible to
the beauties of the admirable production.™· His low esteem for the bulk of
the ˜English audience™ fosters the creation of a select audience (including
Kinnaird) which can appreciate Byron™s work. In canto  the reader is
also, like Byron the speaker, a victim of the scribbler who, ˜spawns his
quarto, and demands your praise™ (. µ); and together poet and reader
confront the in¬nite recession of quotation marks which constitutes their
poetic tradition:
˜Not to admire is all the art I know
(Plain truth, dear Murray, needs few ¬‚owers of speech)
To make men happy, or to keep them so;
(So take it in the very words of Creech).™
Thus Horace wrote we all know long ago;
And thus Pope quotes the precept to re-teach
From his translation; but had none admired,
Would Pope have sung, or Horace been inspired?
(. ±°±)
±°° Byron, Poetics and History
The inclusive ˜Thus . . . we all know™ is an invitation to the reader; its easy

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