George Gordon, Lord Byron certainly had a reputation.
In fact, he had several reputations. Even today some people think of him as the noble, courageous, yet doomed hero he wrote about in his verses.
Others think of him as a scandalous cad who embarked on a series of inappropriate relationships, seduced his half-sister, cruelly disgraced his wife, and drove Caroline Lamb to madness.
But he also had a reputation as a wit. His sense of humor ranged from cheeky to outrageous, and he delighted in catching people off guard. Here’s an example:
Byron’s publisher was a man named John Murray. In appreciation of their long-time association, Byron one day presented Murray with a beautifully bound Bible in which he had written a very flattering inscription to Murray. Murray prized the Bible and kept in on a table where anyone who entered his office could not help but see it and be impressed by it.
One day a visitor to Murray’s office was admiring the Bible and flipping through the pages, when he called Murray’s attention to John 18:40, which read “Now Barabbas was a robber.”
Byron had scratched through the word “robber” and substituted “publisher.”
The account I read didn’t describe how John Murray reacted to the discovery, but it did report that Murray stopped displaying Byron’s Bible in his office.