Don Juan: Canto 01. (part II)
Unconsciously she lean'd upon the other, Which play'd within the tangles of her hair: And to contend with thoughts she could not smother She seem'd by the distraction of her air. 'T was surely very wrong in Juan's mother To leave together this imprudent pair, She who for many years had watch'd her son so— I 'm very certain mine would not have done so. The hand which still held Juan's, by degrees Gently, but palpably confirm'd its grasp, As if it said, 'Detain me, if you please;' Yet there 's no doubt she only meant to clasp His fingers with a pure Platonic squeeze: She would have shrunk as from a toad, or asp, Had she imagined such a thing could rouse A feeling dangerous to a prudent spouse. I cannot know what Juan thought of this, But what he did, is much what you would do; His young lip thank'd it with a grateful kiss, And then, abash'd at its own joy, withdrew In deep despair, lest he had done amiss,— Love is so very timid when 't is new: She blush'd, and frown'd not, but she strove to speak, And held her tongue, her voice was grown so weak. The sun set, and up rose the yellow moon: The devil 's in the moon for mischief; they Who call'd her CHASTE, methinks, began too soon Their nomenclature; there is not a day, The longest, not the twenty-first of June, Sees half the business in a wicked way On which three single hours of moonshine smile— And then she looks so modest all the while. There is a dangerous silence in that hour, A stillness, which leaves room for the full soul To open all itself, without the power Of calling wholly back its self-control; The silver light which, hallowing tree and tower, Sheds beauty and deep softness o'er the whole, Breathes also to the heart, and o'er it throws A loving languor, which is not repose. And Julia sate with Juan, half embraced And half retiring from the glowing arm, Which trembled like the bosom where 't was placed; Yet still she must have thought there was no harm, Or else 't were easy to withdraw her waist; But then the situation had its charm, And then—God knows what next—I can't go on; I 'm almost sorry that I e'er begun. O Plato! Plato! you have paved the way, With your confounded fantasies, to more Immoral conduct by the fancied sway Your system feigns o'er the controulless core Of human hearts, than all the long array Of poets and romancers:—You 're a bore, A charlatan, a coxcomb—and have been, At best, no better than a go-between. And Julia's voice was lost, except in sighs, Until too late for useful conversation; The tears were gushing from her gentle eyes, I wish indeed they had not had occasion, But who, alas! can love, and then be wise? Not that remorse did not oppose temptation; A little still she strove, and much repented And whispering 'I will ne'er consent'—consented. 'T is said that Xerxes offer'd a reward To those who could invent him a new pleasure: Methinks the requisition 's rather hard, And must have cost his majesty a treasure: For my part, I 'm a moderate-minded bard, Fond of a little love (which I call leisure); I care not for new pleasures, as the old Are quite enough for me, so they but hold. O Pleasure! you are indeed a pleasant thing, Although one must be damn'd for you, no doubt: I make a resolution every spring Of reformation, ere the year run out, But somehow, this my vestal vow takes wing, Yet still, I trust it may be kept throughout: I 'm very sorry, very much ashamed, And mean, next winter, to be quite reclaim'd. Here my chaste Muse a liberty must take— Start not! still chaster reader—she 'll be nice hence— Forward, and there is no great cause to quake; This liberty is a poetic licence, Which some irregularity may make In the design, and as I have a high sense Of Aristotle and the Rules, 't is fit To beg his pardon when I err a bit. This licence is to hope the reader will Suppose from June the sixth (the fatal day, Without whose epoch my poetic skill For want of facts would all be thrown away), But keeping Julia and Don Juan still In sight, that several months have pass'd; we 'll say 'T was in November, but I 'm not so sure About the day—the era 's more obscure. We 'll talk of that anon.—'T is sweet to hear At midnight on the blue and moonlit deep The song and oar of Adria's gondolier, By distance mellow'd, o'er the waters sweep; 'T is sweet to see the evening star appear; 'T is sweet to listen as the night-winds creep From leaf to leaf; 't is sweet to view on high The rainbow, based on ocean, span the sky. 'T is sweet to hear the watch-dog's honest bark Bay deep-mouth'd welcome as we draw near home; 'T is sweet to know there is an eye will mark Our coming, and look brighter when we come; 'T is sweet to be awaken'd by the lark, Or lull'd by falling waters; sweet the hum Of bees, the voice of girls, the song of birds, The lisp of children, and their earliest words. Sweet is the vintage, when the showering grapes In Bacchanal profusion reel to earth, Purple and gushing: sweet are our escapes From civic revelry to rural mirth; Sweet to the miser are his glittering heaps, Sweet to the father is his first-born's birth, Sweet is revenge—especially to women, Pillage to soldiers, prize-money to seamen. Sweet is a legacy, and passing sweet The unexpected death of some old lady Or gentleman of seventy years complete, Who 've made 'us youth' wait too—too long already For an estate, or cash, or country seat, Still breaking, but with stamina so steady That all the Israelites are fit to mob its Next owner for their double-damn'd post-obits. 'T is sweet to win, no matter how, one's laurels, By blood or ink; 't is sweet to put an end To strife; 't is sometimes sweet to have our quarrels, Particularly with a tiresome friend: Sweet is old wine in bottles, ale in barrels; Dear is the helpless creature we defend Against the world; and dear the schoolboy spot We ne'er forget, though there we are forgot. But sweeter still than this, than these, than all, Is first and passionate love—it stands alone, Like Adam's recollection of his fall; The tree of knowledge has been pluck'd—all 's known— And life yields nothing further to recall Worthy of this ambrosial sin, so shown, No doubt in fable, as the unforgiven Fire which Prometheus filch'd for us from heaven. Man 's a strange animal, and makes strange use Of his own nature, and the various arts, And likes particularly to produce Some new experiment to show his parts; This is the age of oddities let loose, Where different talents find their different marts; You 'd best begin with truth, and when you 've lost your Labour, there 's a sure market for imposture. What opposite discoveries we have seen! (Signs of true genius, and of empty pockets.) One makes new noses, one a guillotine, One breaks your bones, one sets them in their sockets; But vaccination certainly has been A kind antithesis to Congreve's rockets, With which the Doctor paid off an old pox, By borrowing a new one from an ox. Bread has been made (indifferent) from potatoes; And galvanism has set some corpses grinning, But has not answer'd like the apparatus Of the Humane Society's beginning By which men are unsuffocated gratis: What wondrous new machines have late been spinning! I said the small-pox has gone out of late; Perhaps it may be follow'd by the great. 'T is said the great came from America; Perhaps it may set out on its return,— The population there so spreads, they say 'T is grown high time to thin it in its turn, With war, or plague, or famine, any way, So that civilisation they may learn; And which in ravage the more loathsome evil is— Their real lues, or our pseudo-syphilis? This is the patent-age of new inventions For killing bodies, and for saving souls, All propagated with the best intentions; Sir Humphry Davy's lantern, by which coals Are safely mined for in the mode he mentions, Tombuctoo travels, voyages to the Poles, Are ways to benefit mankind, as true, Perhaps, as shooting them at Waterloo. Man 's a phenomenon, one knows not what, And wonderful beyond all wondrous measure; 'T is pity though, in this sublime world, that Pleasure 's a sin, and sometimes sin 's a pleasure; Few mortals know what end they would be at, But whether glory, power, or love, or treasure, The path is through perplexing ways, and when The goal is gain'd, we die, you know—and then— What then?—I do not know, no more do you— And so good night.—Return we to our story: 'T was in November, when fine days are few, And the far mountains wax a little hoary, And clap a white cape on their mantles blue; And the sea dashes round the promontory, And the loud breaker boils against the rock, And sober suns must set at five o'clock. 'T was, as the watchmen say, a cloudy night; No moon, no stars, the wind was low or loud By gusts, and many a sparkling hearth was bright With the piled wood, round which the family crowd; There 's something cheerful in that sort of light, Even as a summer sky 's without a cloud: I 'm fond of fire, and crickets, and all that, A lobster salad, and champagne, and chat. 'T was midnight—Donna Julia was in bed, Sleeping, most probably,—when at her door Arose a clatter might awake the dead, If they had never been awoke before, And that they have been so we all have read, And are to be so, at the least, once more.-- The door was fasten'd, but with voice and fist First knocks were heard, then 'Madam—Madam—hist! 'For God's sake, Madam—Madam—here 's my master, With more than half the city at his back— Was ever heard of such a curst disaster! 'T is not my fault—I kept good watch—Alack! Do pray undo the bolt a little faster— They 're on the stair just now, and in a crack Will all be here; perhaps he yet may fly— Surely the window 's not so very high!' By this time Don Alfonso was arrived, With torches, friends, and servants in great number; The major part of them had long been wived, And therefore paused not to disturb the slumber Of any wicked woman, who contrived By stealth her husband's temples to encumber: Examples of this kind are so contagious, Were one not punish'd, all would be outrageous. I can't tell how, or why, or what suspicion Could enter into Don Alfonso's head; But for a cavalier of his condition It surely was exceedingly ill-bred, Without a word of previous admonition, To hold a levee round his lady's bed, And summon lackeys, arm'd with fire and sword, To prove himself the thing he most abhorr'd. Poor Donna Julia, starting as from sleep (Mind—that I do not say—she had not slept), Began at once to scream, and yawn, and weep; Her maid Antonia, who was an adept, Contrived to fling the bed-clothes in a heap, As if she had just now from out them crept: I can't tell why she should take all this trouble To prove her mistress had been sleeping double. But Julia mistress, and Antonia maid, Appear'd like two poor harmless women, who Of goblins, but still more of men afraid, Had thought one man might be deterr'd by two, And therefore side by side were gently laid, Until the hours of absence should run through, And truant husband should return, and say, 'My dear, I was the first who came away.' Now Julia found at length a voice, and cried, 'In heaven's name, Don Alfonso, what d' ye mean? Has madness seized you? would that I had died Ere such a monster's victim I had been! What may this midnight violence betide, A sudden fit of drunkenness or spleen? Dare you suspect me, whom the thought would kill? Search, then, the room!'—Alfonso said, 'I will.' He search'd, they search'd, and rummaged everywhere, Closet and clothes' press, chest and window-seat, And found much linen, lace, and several pair Of stockings, slippers, brushes, combs, complete, With other articles of ladies fair, To keep them beautiful, or leave them neat: Arras they prick'd and curtains with their swords, And wounded several shutters, and some boards. Under the bed they search'd, and there they found— No matter what—it was not that they sought; They open'd windows, gazing if the ground Had signs or footmarks, but the earth said nought; And then they stared each other's faces round: 'T is odd, not one of all these seekers thought, And seems to me almost a sort of blunder, Of looking in the bed as well as under. During this inquisition, Julia's tongue Was not asleep—'Yes, search and search,' she cried, 'Insult on insult heap, and wrong on wrong! It was for this that I became a bride! For this in silence I have suffer'd long A husband like Alfonso at my side; But now I 'll bear no more, nor here remain, If there be law or lawyers in all Spain. 'Yes, Don Alfonso! husband now no more, If ever you indeed deserved the name, Is 't worthy of your years?—you have threescore— Fifty, or sixty, it is all the same— Is 't wise or fitting, causeless to explore For facts against a virtuous woman's fame? Ungrateful, perjured, barbarous Don Alfonso, How dare you think your lady would go on so? 'Is it for this I have disdain'd to hold The common privileges of my sex? That I have chosen a confessor so old And deaf, that any other it would vex, And never once he has had cause to scold, But found my very innocence perplex So much, he always doubted I was married— How sorry you will be when I 've miscarried! 'Was it for this that no Cortejo e'er I yet have chosen from out the youth of Seville? Is it for this I scarce went anywhere, Except to bull-fights, mass, play, rout, and revel? Is it for this, whate'er my suitors were, I favor'd none—nay, was almost uncivil? Is it for this that General Count O'Reilly, Who took Algiers, declares I used him vilely? 'Did not the Italian Musico Cazzani Sing at my heart six months at least in vain? Did not his countryman, Count Corniani, Call me the only virtuous wife in Spain? Were there not also Russians, English, many? The Count Strongstroganoff I put in pain, And Lord Mount Coffeehouse, the Irish peer, Who kill'd himself for love (with wine) last year. 'Have I not had two bishops at my feet, The Duke of Ichar, and Don Fernan Nunez? And is it thus a faithful wife you treat? I wonder in what quarter now the moon is: I praise your vast forbearance not to beat Me also, since the time so opportune is— O, valiant man! with sword drawn and cock'd trigger, Now, tell me, don't you cut a pretty figure? 'Was it for this you took your sudden journey. Under pretence of business indispensable With that sublime of rascals your attorney, Whom I see standing there, and looking sensible Of having play'd the fool? though both I spurn, he Deserves the worst, his conduct 's less defensible, Because, no doubt, 't was for his dirty fee, And not from any love to you nor me. 'If he comes here to take a deposition, By all means let the gentleman proceed; You 've made the apartment in a fit condition: There 's pen and ink for you, sir, when you need— Let every thing be noted with precision, I would not you for nothing should be fee'd— But, as my maid 's undrest, pray turn your spies out.' 'Oh!' sobb'd Antonia, 'I could tear their eyes out.' 'There is the closet, there the toilet, there The antechamber—search them under, over; There is the sofa, there the great arm-chair, The chimney—which would really hold a lover. I wish to sleep, and beg you will take care And make no further noise, till you discover The secret cavern of this lurking treasure— And when 't is found, let me, too, have that pleasure. 'And now, Hidalgo! now that you have thrown Doubt upon me, confusion over all, Pray have the courtesy to make it known Who is the man you search for? how d' ye cal Him? what 's his lineage? let him but be shown— I hope he 's young and handsome—is he tall? Tell me—and be assured, that since you stain My honour thus, it shall not be in vain. 'At least, perhaps, he has not sixty years, At that age he would be too old for slaughter, Or for so young a husband's jealous fears (Antonia! let me have a glass of water). I am ashamed of having shed these tears, They are unworthy of my father's daughter; My mother dream'd not in my natal hour That I should fall into a monster's power. 'Perhaps 't is of Antonia you are jealous, You saw that she was sleeping by my side When you broke in upon us with your fellows: Look where you please—we 've nothing, sir, to hide; Only another time, I trust, you 'll tell us, Or for the sake of decency abide A moment at the door, that we may be Drest to receive so much good company. 'And now, sir, I have done, and say no more; The little I have said may serve to show The guileless heart in silence may grieve o'er The wrongs to whose exposure it is slow: I leave you to your conscience as before, 'T will one day ask you why you used me so? God grant you feel not then the bitterest grief!- Antonia! where 's my pocket-handkerchief?' She ceased, and turn'd upon her pillow; pale She lay, her dark eyes flashing through their tears, Like skies that rain and lighten; as a veil, Waved and o'ershading her wan cheek, appears Her streaming hair; the black curls strive, but fail, To hide the glossy shoulder, which uprears Its snow through all;—her soft lips lie apart, And louder than her breathing beats her heart. The Senhor Don Alfonso stood confused; Antonia bustled round the ransack'd room, And, turning up her nose, with looks abused Her master and his myrmidons, of whom Not one, except the attorney, was amused; He, like Achates, faithful to the tomb, So there were quarrels, cared not for the cause, Knowing they must be settled by the laws. With prying snub-nose, and small eyes, he stood, Following Antonia's motions here and there, With much suspicion in his attitude; For reputations he had little care; So that a suit or action were made good, Small pity had he for the young and fair, And ne'er believed in negatives, till these Were proved by competent false witnesses. But Don Alfonso stood with downcast looks, And, truth to say, he made a foolish figure; When, after searching in five hundred nooks, And treating a young wife with so much rigour, He gain'd no point, except some self-rebukes, Added to those his lady with such vigour Had pour'd upon him for the last half-hour, Quick, thick, and heavy—as a thunder-shower. At first he tried to hammer an excuse, To which the sole reply was tears and sobs, And indications of hysterics, whose Prologue is always certain throes, and throbs, Gasps, and whatever else the owners choose: Alfonso saw his wife, and thought of Job's; He saw too, in perspective, her relations, And then he tried to muster all his patience. He stood in act to speak, or rather stammer, But sage Antonia cut him short before The anvil of his speech received the hammer, With 'Pray, sir, leave the room, and say no more, Or madam dies.'—Alfonso mutter'd, 'D—n her,' But nothing else, the time of words was o'er; He cast a rueful look or two, and did, He knew not wherefore, that which he was bid. With him retired his 'posse comitatus,' The attorney last, who linger'd near the door Reluctantly, still tarrying there as late as Antonia let him—not a little sore At this most strange and unexplain'd 'hiatus' In Don Alfonso's facts, which just now wore An awkward look; as he revolved the case, The door was fasten'd in his legal face. No sooner was it bolted, than—Oh shame! O sin! Oh sorrow! and oh womankind! How can you do such things and keep your fame, Unless this world, and t' other too, be blind? Nothing so dear as an unfilch'd good name! But to proceed—for there is more behind: With much heartfelt reluctance be it said, Young Juan slipp'd half-smother'd, from the bed. He had been hid—I don't pretend to say How, nor can I indeed describe the where— Young, slender, and pack'd easily, he lay, No doubt, in little compass, round or square; But pity him I neither must nor may His suffocation by that pretty pair; 'T were better, sure, to die so, than be shut With maudlin Clarence in his Malmsey butt. And, secondly, I pity not, because He had no business to commit a sin, Forbid by heavenly, fined by human laws, At least 't was rather early to begin; But at sixteen the conscience rarely gnaws So much as when we call our old debts in At sixty years, and draw the accompts of evil, And find a deuced balance with the devil. Of his position I can give no notion: 'T is written in the Hebrew Chronicle, How the physicians, leaving pill and potion, Prescribed, by way of blister, a young belle, When old King David's blood grew dull in motion, And that the medicine answer'd very well; Perhaps 't was in a different way applied, For David lived, but Juan nearly died. What 's to be done? Alfonso will be back The moment he has sent his fools away. Antonia's skill was put upon the rack, But no device could be brought into play— And how to parry the renew'd attack? Besides, it wanted but few hours of day: Antonia puzzled; Julia did not speak, But press'd her bloodless lip to Juan's cheek. He turn'd his lip to hers, and with his hand Call'd back the tangles of her wandering hair; Even then their love they could not all command, And half forgot their danger and despair: Antonia's patience now was at a stand— 'Come, come, 't is no time now for fooling there,' She whisper'd, in great wrath—'I must deposit This pretty gentleman within the closet: 'Pray, keep your nonsense for some luckier night— Who can have put my master in this mood? What will become on 't—I 'm in such a fright, The devil 's in the urchin, and no good— Is this a time for giggling? this a plight? Why, don't you know that it may end in blood? You 'll lose your life, and I shall lose my place, My mistress all, for that half-girlish face. 'Had it but been for a stout cavalier Of twenty-five or thirty (come, make haste)— But for a child, what piece of work is here! I really, madam, wonder at your taste (Come, sir, get in)—my master must be near: There, for the present, at the least, he's fast, And if we can but till the morning keep Our counsel—(Juan, mind, you must not sleep).' Now, Don Alfonso entering, but alone, Closed the oration of the trusty maid: She loiter'd, and he told her to be gone, An order somewhat sullenly obey'd; However, present remedy was none, And no great good seem'd answer'd if she stay'd: Regarding both with slow and sidelong view, She snuff'd the candle, curtsied, and withdrew. Alfonso paused a minute—then begun Some strange excuses for his late proceeding; He would not justify what he had done, To say the best, it was extreme ill-breeding; But there were ample reasons for it, none Of which he specified in this his pleading: His speech was a fine sample, on the whole, Of rhetoric, which the learn'd call 'rigmarole.' Julia said nought; though all the while there rose A ready answer, which at once enables A matron, who her husband's foible knows, By a few timely words to turn the tables, Which, if it does not silence, still must pose,— Even if it should comprise a pack of fables; 'T is to retort with firmness, and when he Suspects with one, do you reproach with three. Julia, in fact, had tolerable grounds,— Alfonso's loves with Inez were well known, But whether 't was that one's own guilt confounds— But that can't be, as has been often shown, A lady with apologies abounds;— It might be that her silence sprang alone From delicacy to Don Juan's ear, To whom she knew his mother's fame was dear. There might be one more motive, which makes two; Alfonso ne'er to Juan had alluded,— Mention'd his jealousy but never who Had been the happy lover, he concluded, Conceal'd amongst his premises; 't is true, His mind the more o'er this its mystery brooded; To speak of Inez now were, one may say, Like throwing Juan in Alfonso's way. A hint, in tender cases, is enough; Silence is best, besides there is a tact (That modern phrase appears to me sad stuff, But it will serve to keep my verse compact)— Which keeps, when push'd by questions rather rough, A lady always distant from the fact: The charming creatures lie with such a grace, There 's nothing so becoming to the face. They blush, and we believe them; at least I Have always done so; 't is of no great use, In any case, attempting a reply, For then their eloquence grows quite profuse; And when at length they 're out of breath, they sigh, And cast their languid eyes down, and let loose A tear or two, and then we make it up; And then—and then—and then—sit down and sup. Alfonso closed his speech, and begg'd her pardon, Which Julia half withheld, and then half granted, And laid conditions he thought very hard on, Denying several little things he wanted: He stood like Adam lingering near his garden, With useless penitence perplex'd and haunted, Beseeching she no further would refuse, When, lo! he stumbled o'er a pair of shoes. A pair of shoes!—what then? not much, if they Are such as fit with ladies' feet, but these (No one can tell how much I grieve to say) Were masculine; to see them, and to seize, Was but a moment's act.—Ah! well-a-day! My teeth begin to chatter, my veins freeze— Alfonso first examined well their fashion, And then flew out into another passion. He left the room for his relinquish'd sword, And Julia instant to the closet flew. 'Fly, Juan, fly! for heaven's sake—not a word— The door is open—you may yet slip through The passage you so often have explored— Here is the garden-key—Fly—fly—Adieu! Haste—haste! I hear Alfonso's hurrying feet— Day has not broke—there 's no one in the street: None can say that this was not good advice, The only mischief was, it came too late; Of all experience 't is the usual price, A sort of income-tax laid on by fate: Juan had reach'd the room-door in a. trice, And might have done so by the garden-gate, But met Alfonso in his dressing-gown, Who threaten'd death—so Juan knock'd him down. Dire was the scuffle, and out went the light; Antonia cried out 'Rape!' and Julia 'Fire!' But not a servant stirr'd to aid the fight. Alfonso, pommell'd to his heart's desire, Swore lustily he'd be revenged this night; And Juan, too, blasphemed an octave higher; His blood was up: though young, he was a Tartar, And not at all disposed to prove a martyr. Alfonso's sword had dropp'd ere he could draw it, And they continued battling hand to hand, For Juan very luckily ne'er saw it; His temper not being under great command, If at that moment he had chanced to claw it, Alfonso's days had not been in the land Much longer.—Think of husbands', lovers' lives! And how ye may be doubly widows—wives! Alfonso grappled to detain the foe, And Juan throttled him to get away, And blood ('t was from the nose) began to flow; At last, as they more faintly wrestling lay, Juan contrived to give an awkward blow, And then his only garment quite gave way; He fled, like Joseph, leaving it; but there, I doubt, all likeness ends between the pair. Lights came at length, and men, and maids, who found An awkward spectacle their eyes before; Antonia in hysterics, Julia swoon'd, Alfonso leaning, breathless, by the door; Some half-torn drapery scatter'd on the ground, Some blood, and several footsteps, but no more: Juan the gate gain'd, turn'd the key about, And liking not the inside, lock'd the out. Here ends this canto.—Need I sing, or say, How Juan naked, favour'd by the night, Who favours what she should not, found his way, And reach'd his home in an unseemly plight? The pleasant scandal which arose next day, The nine days' wonder which was brought to light, And how Alfonso sued for a divorce, Were in the English newspapers, of course. If you would like to see the whole proceedings, The depositions, and the cause at full, The names of all the witnesses, the pleadings Of counsel to nonsuit, or to annul, There 's more than one edition, and the readings Are various, but they none of them are dull; The best is that in short-hand ta'en by Gurney, Who to Madrid on purpose made a journey. But Donna Inez, to divert the train Of one of the most circulating scandals That had for centuries been known in Spain, At least since the retirement of the Vandals, First vow'd (and never had she vow'd in vain) To Virgin Mary several pounds of candles; And then, by the advice of some old ladies, She sent her son to be shipp'd off from Cadiz. She had resolved that he should travel through All European climes, by land or sea, To mend his former morals, and get new, Especially in France and Italy (At least this is the thing most people do). Julia was sent into a convent: she Grieved, but, perhaps, her feelings may be better Shown in the following copy of her Letter:— 'They tell me 't is decided; you depart: 'T is wise—'t is well, but not the less a pain; I have no further claim on your young heart, Mine is the victim, and would be again; To love too much has been the only art I used;—I write in haste, and if a stain Be on this sheet, 't is not what it appears; My eyeballs burn and throb, but have no tears. 'I loved, I love you, for this love have lost State, station, heaven, mankind's, my own esteem, And yet can not regret what it hath cost, So dear is still the memory of that dream; Yet, if I name my guilt, 't is not to boast, None can deem harshlier of me than I deem: I trace this scrawl because I cannot rest— I 've nothing to reproach, or to request. 'Man's love is of man's life a thing apart, 'T is woman's whole existence; man may range The court, camp, church, the vessel, and the mart; Sword, gown, gain, glory, offer in exchange Pride, fame, ambition, to fill up his heart, And few there are whom these cannot estrange; Men have all these resources, we but one, To love again, and be again undone. 'You will proceed in pleasure, and in pride, Beloved and loving many; all is o'er For me on earth, except some years to hide My shame and sorrow deep in my heart's core; These I could bear, but cannot cast aside The passion which still rages as before— And so farewell—forgive me, love me—No, That word is idle now—but let it go. 'My breast has been all weakness, is so yet; But still I think I can collect my mind; My blood still rushes where my spirit 's set, As roll the waves before the settled wind; My heart is feminine, nor can forget— To all, except one image, madly blind; So shakes the needle, and so stands the pole, As vibrates my fond heart to my fix'd soul. 'I have no more to say, but linger still, And dare not set my seal upon this sheet, And yet I may as well the task fulfil, My misery can scarce be more complete: I had not lived till now, could sorrow kill; Death shuns the wretch who fain the blow would meet, And I must even survive this last adieu, And bear with life, to love and pray for you!' This note was written upon gilt-edged paper With a neat little crow-quill, slight and new: Her small white hand could hardly reach the taper, It trembled as magnetic needles do, And yet she did not let one tear escape her; The seal a sun-flower; 'Elle vous suit partout,' The motto cut upon a white cornelian; The wax was superfine, its hue vermilion. This was Don Juan's earliest scrape; but whether I shall proceed with his adventures is Dependent on the public altogether; We 'll see, however, what they say to this: Their favour in an author's cap 's a feather, And no great mischief 's done by their caprice; And if their approbation we experience, Perhaps they 'll have some more about a year hence. My poem 's epic, and is meant to be Divided in twelve books; each book containing, With love, and war, a heavy gale at sea, A list of ships, and captains, and kings reigning, New characters; the episodes are three: A panoramic view of hell 's in training, After the style of Virgil and of Homer, So that my name of Epic 's no misnomer. All these things will be specified in time, With strict regard to Aristotle's rules, The Vade Mecum of the true sublime, Which makes so many poets, and some fools: Prose poets like blank-verse, I 'm fond of rhyme, Good workmen never quarrel with their tools; I 've got new mythological machinery, And very handsome supernatural scenery. There 's only one slight difference between Me and my epic brethren gone before, And here the advantage is my own, I ween (Not that I have not several merits more, But this will more peculiarly be seen); They so embellish, that 't is quite a bore Their labyrinth of fables to thread through, Whereas this story 's actually true. If any person doubt it, I appeal To history, tradition, and to facts, To newspapers, whose truth all know and feel, To plays in five, and operas in three acts; All these confirm my statement a good deal, But that which more completely faith exacts Is that myself, and several now in Seville, Saw Juan's last elopement with the devil. If ever I should condescend to prose, I 'll write poetical commandments, which Shall supersede beyond all doubt all those That went before; in these I shall enrich My text with many things that no one knows, And carry precept to the highest pitch: I 'll call the work 'Longinus o'er a Bottle, Or, Every Poet his own Aristotle.' Thou shalt believe in Milton, Dryden, Pope; Thou shalt not set up Wordsworth, Coleridge, Southey; Because the first is crazed beyond all hope, The second drunk, the third so quaint and mouthy: With Crabbe it may be difficult to cope, And Campbell's Hippocrene is somewhat drouthy: Thou shalt not steal from Samuel Rogers, nor Commit—flirtation with the muse of Moore. Thou shalt not covet Mr. Sotheby's Muse, His Pegasus, nor anything that 's his; Thou shalt not bear false witness like 'the Blues' (There 's one, at least, is very fond of this); Thou shalt not write, in short, but what I choose: This is true criticism, and you may kiss— Exactly as you please, or not,—the rod; If any person should presume to assert This story is not moral, first, I pray, That they will not cry out before they 're hurt, Then that they 'll read it o'er again, and say (But, doubtless, nobody will be so pert) That this is not a moral tale, though gay; Besides, in Canto Twelfth, I mean to show The very place where wicked people go. If, after all, there should be some so blind To their own good this warning to despise, Led by some tortuosity of mind, Not to believe my verse and their own eyes, And cry that they 'the moral cannot find,' I tell him, if a clergyman, he lies; Should captains the remark, or critics, make, They also lie too—under a mistake. The public approbation I expect, And beg they 'll take my word about the moral, Which I with their amusement will connect (So children cutting teeth receive a coral); Meantime, they 'll doubtless please to recollect My epical pretensions to the laurel: For fear some prudish readers should grow skittish, I 've bribed my grandmother's review—the British. I sent it in a letter to the Editor, Who thank'd me duly by return of post— I 'm for a handsome article his creditor; Yet, if my gentle Muse he please to roast, And break a promise after having made it her, Denying the receipt of what it cost, And smear his page with gall instead of honey, All I can say is—that he had the money. I think that with this holy new alliance I may ensure the public, and defy All other magazines of art or science, Daily, or monthly, or three monthly; I Have not essay'd to multiply their clients, Because they tell me 't were in vain to try, And that the Edinburgh Review and Quarterly Treat a dissenting author very martyrly. 'Non ego hoc ferrem calida juventa Consule Planco,' Horace said, and so Say I; by which quotation there is meant a Hint that some six or seven good years ago (Long ere I dreamt of dating from the Brenta) I was most ready to return a blow, And would not brook at all this sort of thing In my hot youth—when George the Third was King. But now at thirty years my hair is grey (I wonder what it will be like at forty? I thought of a peruke the other day)— My heart is not much greener; and, in short, I Have squander'd my whole summer while 't was May, And feel no more the spirit to retort; I Have spent my life, both interest and principal, And deem not, what I deem'd, my soul invincible. No more—no more—Oh! never more on me The freshness of the heart can fall like dew, Which out of all the lovely things we see Extracts emotions beautiful and new, Hived in our bosoms like the bag o' the bee: Think'st thou the honey with those objects grew? Alas! 't was not in them, but in thy power To double even the sweetness of a flower. No more—no more—Oh! never more, my heart, Canst thou be my sole world, my universe! Once all in all, but now a thing apart, Thou canst not be my blessing or my curse: The illusion 's gone for ever, and thou art Insensible, I trust, but none the worse, And in thy stead I 've got a deal of judgment, Though heaven knows how it ever found a lodgment. My days of love are over; me no more The charms of maid, wife, and still less of widow, Can make the fool of which they made before,— In short, I must not lead the life I did do; The credulous hope of mutual minds is o'er, The copious use of claret is forbid too, So for a good old-gentlemanly vice, I think I must take up with avarice. Ambition was my idol, which was broken Before the shrines of Sorrow, and of Pleasure; And the two last have left me many a token O'er which reflection may be made at leisure: Now, like Friar Bacon's brazen head, I 've spoken, 'Time is, Time was, Time 's past:'—a chymic treasure Is glittering youth, which I have spent betimes— My heart in passion, and my head on rhymes. What is the end of Fame? 't is but to fill A certain portion of uncertain paper: Some liken it to climbing up a hill, Whose summit, like all hills, is lost in vapour; For this men write, speak, preach, and heroes kill, And bards burn what they call their 'midnight taper,' To have, when the original is dust, A name, a wretched picture, and worse bust. What are the hopes of man? Old Egypt's King Cheops erected the first pyramid And largest, thinking it was just the thing To keep his memory whole, and mummy hid; But somebody or other rummaging, Burglariously broke his coffin's lid: Let not a monument give you or me hopes, Since not a pinch of dust remains of Cheops. But I being fond of true philosophy, Say very often to myself, 'Alas! All things that have been born were born to die, And flesh (which Death mows down to hay) is grass; You 've pass'd your youth not so unpleasantly, And if you had it o'er again—'t would pass— So thank your stars that matters are no worse, And read your Bible, sir, and mind your purse.' But for the present, gentle reader! and Still gentler purchaser! the bard—that 's I— Must, with permission, shake you by the hand, And so 'Your humble servant, and good-b'ye!' We meet again, if we should understand Each other; and if not, I shall not try Your patience further than by this short sample— 'T were well if others follow'd my example. 'Go, little book, from this my solitude! I cast thee on the waters—go thy ways! And if, as I believe, thy vein be good, The world will find thee after many days.' When Southey's read, and Wordsworth understood, I can't help putting in my claim to praise— The four first rhymes are Southey's every line: For God's sake, reader! take them not for mine.