- Lord Byron's Don Juan (link to archive.org) first two Cantos pub.1819, unfinished at Canto 16 on Byron's death in 1824. This complete edition from Philadelphia, 1859. Overall it reflects Byron's inconsistency about his diet.
Bryon comments in his Notes (p.452 of above edition): This sentimental savage, whom it is a mode to quote (amongst the novelists) to show their sympathy for innocent sports and old songs, teaches how to sew up frogs, and break their legs by way of experiment, in addition to the art of angling, the cruelest, the coldest, and the stupidest of pretended sports.
Life of Lord Byron : with his letters and journals (Vol.1 - to 1811) (link to archive.org) pub. London, 1839, this edition 1854.
p. 165 - 1807: "Apropos, sorry to say,
been drunk every day, and not quite sober yet —
however, touch no meat, nothing but fish, soup, and
vegetables, consequently it does me no harm ..."
p.356 - 1811, June 25: "I must only inform
you that for a long time I have been restricted to an
entire vegetable diet, neither fish nor flesh coming
within my regimen ; so I expect a powerful stock of
potatoes, greens, and biscuit : I drink no wine.... I have only to beg you
will not forget my diet, which it is very necessary
for me to observe. I am well in health, as I have
generally been, with the exception of two agues,
both of which I quickly got over."
Life of Lord Byron : with his letters and journals (Vol.2 - 1811-13) (link to archive.org) pub. London, 1839, this edition 1854.
p.92 - 1811: "As we had none of us been apprised of his peculiarities
with respect to food, the embarrassment of
our host was not a little, on discovering that there
was nothing upon the table which his noble guest
could eat or drink. Neither meat, fish, nor wine,
would Lord Byron touch ; and of biscuits and sodawater,
which he asked for, there had been, unluckily,
no provision. He professed, however, to
be equally well pleased with potatoes and vinegar ;
and of these meagre materials contrived to make
rather a hearty dinner.
p.264 - 1813: " I have dined regularly to-day, for the first time
since Sunday last this being Sabbath, too. All
the rest, tea and dry biscuits six per diem. I wish
to God I had not dined now ! It kills me with
heaviness, stupor, and horrible dreams ; and yet
it was but a pint of bucellas, and fish. Meat I
never touch, nor much vegetable diet. I wish I
were in the country, to take exercise, instead of
being obliged to cool by abstinence, in lieu of it. I
should not so much mind a little accession of flesh,
my bones can well bear it. But the worst is,
the devil always came with it, till I starved him
out, and I will not be the slave of any appetite.
If I do err, it shall be my heart, at least, that
heralds the way. Oh, my head how it aches ?
the horrors of digestion ! I wonder how Buonaparte's
dinner agrees with him ?
p.283 - 1813: "Stuffed myself
with sturgeon, and exceeded in champagne and wine
in general, but not to confusion of head. When I
do dine, I gorge like an Arab or a Boa snake, on fish
and vegetables, but no meat. I am always better,
however, on my tea and biscuit than any other regimen,
and even that sparingly.
Life of Lord Byron : with his letters and journals (Vol.3 1814-17) (link to archive.org) pub. London, 1839, this edition 1854.
p.83 - 1814: knowing that
Lord Byron, for the last two days, had done nothing
towards sustenance, beyond eating a few biscuits and
(to appease appetite) chewing mastic, I desired that
we should have a good supply of, at least, two kinds
of fish. My companion, however, confined himself
to lobsters, and of these finished two or three, to his
own share,—interposing, sometimes, a small liqueurglass
of strong white brandy, sometimes a tumbler of
very hot water, and then pure brandy again, to the
amount of near half a dozen small glasses of the
latter, without which, alternately with the hot water,
he appeared to think the lobster could not be digested.
After this, we had claret, of which having
despatched two bottles between us, at about four
o'clock in the morning we parted.
p.231 - 1816 (with the Shelleys in Switzerland): His system of diet here was regulated by an abstinence
almost incredible. A thin slice of bread, with tea, at breakfast — a light, vegetable dinner, with a bottle or two of Seltzer
water, tinged with vin de Grave, and in the evening, a cup of
green tea, without milk or sugar, formed the whole of his sustenance.
The pangs of hunger he appeased by privately
chewing tobacco and smoking cigars.
p.337 - 1817:
Venice, January 28. 1817."The remedy
for your plethora is simple — abstinence. I
was obliged to have recourse to the like some years
ago, I mean in point of diet, and, with the exception
of some convivial weeks and days, (it might be
months, now and then,) have kept to Pythagoras
ever since. For all this, let me hear that you are
better. You must not indulge in '
filthy beer,' nor
in porter, nor eat suppers — the last are the devil to
those who swallow dinner."
Volumes 4, 5 and 6 appear to have nothing further to add about his diet during his remaining seven years.
Extract from Shelley by Edward Blunden 1946:
[in Ravenna, Italy 1818] Talk on these and other topics went on until six in the morning, but then in Byron's house even Shelley resigned himself to getting up at midday. Byron breakfasted in the afternoon, they talked or read till six, went for a ride through the pine forests, dined at eight and so to talk again. One of Byron's characteristics could not have been missed by any visitor. Madame Guiccioli found it very comical, and would tell a good story about it. For Michaelmas Day Byron regularly resolved to have a roast goose, and bought one; but by the time he had fattened it for a month the goose and he were such friends that the bird did not come to the table, and another was bought. At last he possesed four pet geese which travelled in cages under his carriage. Shelley's catalogue of Byron's zoo ("besides servants"), omitting geese, includes "ten horses, eight enormous dogs, three monkeys, five cats, an eagle, a crow and a falcon; and all these except the horses, walk about the house, which every now and then resounds with their unarbitrated quarrels, as if they were masters of it." Shelley supposed that this list was complete, but as he departed "met on the grand staircase five peacocks, two guinea hens, and an Egyptian crane. I wonder who all these animals were before they were changed into these shapes."