Don Juan, Byron claims after writing Canto I, 'is meant to be a little quietly facetious upon everything...It is dedicated to Southey in good, simple, savage verse'. After finishing Canto II, he adds provocatively, 'I maintain it is the most moral of poems'. It is not a view that his contemporaries share. To the St James's chronicle, Don Juan is 'the most licentious poem which has for many years issued from the British press'. Blackwood's sees in it wickedness 'inextricably mingled with beauty' - 'a calm, careless ferociousness of contented and satisfied depravity'. Byron's friends had been alarmed from the first, and wanted him to pander to the audience; Byron's publisher sent the first two cantos into the world without either the author's name or his own on the title page. It now seems that this elegant, never truly anonymous, volume contains the greatest poetry that Byron ever wrote, a poetry truly moral in its portrayal of innocence and hypocrisy.