From Byron's Don Juan:

Here Lolah interposed -- "Mamma, you know
You don't sleep soundly, and I cannot bear
That anybody should disturb you so;
I'll take Juanna; we're a slenderer pair
Than you would make the half of
; -- don't say no;
And I of your young charge will take due care."
But here Katinka interfered, and said,
"She also had compassion and a bed.

What is the meaning of we're a slenderer pair than you would make the half of?

When we lie together, we take up less than 50% of your width?

  • I don't know why you didn't post this in Literature. In a hurry?
    – Mick
    Jan 9, 2018 at 11:08
  • @Mick - because a question about meaning-in-context would be off-topic in Literature Jan 9, 2018 at 11:13
  • I didn't realise that.
    – Mick
    Jan 9, 2018 at 11:23
  • @Mick - well, maybe not off-topic, but I'm never sure with questions of this kind.. I've been told there once already to ask a question here instead. Jan 9, 2018 at 11:26
  • 1
    CowperKettle, @Mick - a question about the meaning in context would definitely be on topic for us over at Literature. (Source: I'm a Literature.SE mod.)
    – Mithical
    Jan 9, 2018 at 11:50

1 Answer 1


Given the context, I would say that Lolah is suggesting that she share her bed with Juanna, rather than her mother, since Lolah and Juanna together would take up less room than Lolah and her mother. Whether this is really for Lolah's benefit, rather than her mother's, is open to interpretation.

So, you are correct (I think), although it may be an exaggeration.

  • So "Lolah + Juanna" is less than 50% of the width of "Momma + Juanna". I see. Thank you! Jan 9, 2018 at 11:15
  • It's possibly an exaggeration.
    – Mick
    Jan 9, 2018 at 11:24
  • 1
    @CowperKettle No you still have it wrong. The comparison is between the total space taken by each pair. The half of bit isn't about the totals, it's just saying that Momma would be one half of that pair. Ie., the pair that you would be half of.
    – Phil Sweet
    Jan 9, 2018 at 14:57
  • @PhilSweet - thank you! Now at last I understand this. Jan 9, 2018 at 15:12

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