Don Juan: Impressions on Canto the Ninth
- This canto was as smooth to read as a hot knife
through butter. And what a cutting start: "Oh,
Wellington! (or 'Villanton'--" Now *this* is the
Byron I love, that "best of cut-throats" engaged in a
"windpipe-splitting art." He carves up the Wellington
nicely, pinking him here ("There is no doubt you
deserve your ration/But pray give back a little to the
nation"), shaving him there ("he may like being
praised for every lucky blunder"), slicing him once
("And I shall be delighted who/Save you and yours have
gained by Waterloo"), again ("your Sabine farm"), and
yet again ("You *did great* things, but not being
*great* in mind/Have left *undone* the *greatest*--and
But Byron, being Byron, dices up the rest of society,
too: the average ("It is not that I adulate the
people:/Without *me* there are demagogues enough...I
wish men to be free/As much from mobs as kings--from
you as me"), the advisors ("Your wise men don't know
much of navigation;/And swimming long in the abyss of
thought/is apt to tire"), and everyone all together
("And deem, because we *see,* we are *all-seeing.*")
"And thus death laughs--it is sad merriment/But still
it is so." And so, too, Byron sometimes laughs--it is
sad merriment, but still it is so.
A favorite by which to close:
"the next grand/Is that which may be christened love
canonical/Because the clergy take the thing in hand"
"I am afraid that my natural idleness will in the end get the better of what little ambition I have." Charles James Fox
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