Don Juan "Dead Scandals Form Good Subjects For Dissection"

Lord George Gordon Byron

"Dead Scandals Form Good Subjects For Dissection"

Context: Don Jóse and Donna Inez, proud parents of Don Juan, young hero of Lord Byron's satiric epic, have quarrelled–precisely why no one can guess "Though several thousand people chose to try." They live respectably as man and wife while showing to the world a well-bred calm, until at last pent-up anger flares and leaves the world in no doubt as to the true state of affairs between them. Donna Inez tries first to prove that Don Jóse is mad; failing this, that he is merely bad. When asked on what evidence she is moved to treat him so, she replies only that her conduct is required by her duty to God and man; and, while hinting that she has journals, books and letters which could be used should occasion demand, she falls serenely and magnanimously silent. "And then she had all Seville for abettors,/ The hearers of her case became repeaters." Old gossip is dredged up, old rumors brought to life; to the amusement of some, the requital of others, the entertainment of all.

And then this best and meekest woman bore
With such serenity her husband's woes,
Just as the Spartan ladies did of yore,
Who saw their spouses kill'd, and nobly chose
Never to say a word about them more–
Calmly she heard each calumny that rose,
And saw his agonies with such sublimity,
That all the world exclaim'd, "What magnanimity!"
. . .
And if our quarrels should rip up old stories,
And help them with a lie or two additional,
I'm not to blame, as you well know–no more is
Any one else–they were become traditional;
Besides, their resurrection aids our glories
By contrast, which is what we just were wishing all:
And science profits by this resurrection–
Dead scandals form good subjects for dissection.