Don Juan: Canto 02. (part I)
O ye! who teach the ingenuous youth of nations, Holland, France, England, Germany, or Spain, I pray ye flog them upon all occasions, It mends their morals, never mind the pain: The best of mothers and of educations In Juan's case were but employ'd in vain, Since, in a way that 's rather of the oddest, he Became divested of his native modesty. Had he but been placed at a public school, In the third form, or even in the fourth, His daily task had kept his fancy cool, At least, had he been nurtured in the north; Spain may prove an exception to the rule, But then exceptions always prove its worth— A lad of sixteen causing a divorce Puzzled his tutors very much, of course. I can't say that it puzzles me at all, If all things be consider'd: first, there was His lady—mother, mathematical, A—never mind; his tutor, an old ass; A pretty woman (that 's quite natural, Or else the thing had hardly come to pass); A husband rather old, not much in unity With his young wife—a time, and opportunity. Well—well, the world must turn upon its axis, And all mankind turn with it, heads or tails, And live and die, make love and pay our taxes, And as the veering wind shifts, shift our sails; The king commands us, and the doctor quacks us, The priest instructs, and so our life exhales, A little breath, love, wine, ambition, fame, Fighting, devotion, dust,—perhaps a name. I said that Juan had been sent to Cadiz— A pretty town, I recollect it well— 'T is there the mart of the colonial trade is (Or was, before Peru learn'd to rebel), And such sweet girls—I mean, such graceful ladies, Their very walk would make your bosom swell; I can't describe it, though so much it strike, Nor liken it—I never saw the like: An Arab horse, a stately stag, a barb New broke, a cameleopard, a gazelle, No—none of these will do;—and then their garb! Their veil and petticoat—Alas! to dwell Upon such things would very near absorb A canto—then their feet and ankles,—well, Thank Heaven I 've got no metaphor quite ready (And so, my sober Muse—come, let 's be steady— Chaste Muse!—well, if you must, you must)—the veil Thrown back a moment with the glancing hand, While the o'erpowering eye, that turns you pale, Flashes into the heart:—All sunny land Of love! when I forget you, may I fail To—say my prayers—but never was there plann'd A dress through which the eyes give such a volley, Excepting the Venetian Fazzioli. But to our tale: the Donna Inez sent Her son to Cadiz only to embark; To stay there had not answer'd her intent, But why?—we leave the reader in the dark— 'T was for a voyage that the young man was meant, As if a Spanish ship were Noah's ark, To wean him from the wickedness of earth, And send him like a dove of promise forth. Don Juan bade his valet pack his things According to direction, then received A lecture and some money: for four springs He was to travel; and though Inez grieved (As every kind of parting has its stings), She hoped he would improve—perhaps believed: A letter, too, she gave (he never read it) Of good advice—and two or three of credit. In the mean time, to pass her hours away, Brave Inez now set up a Sunday school For naughty children, who would rather play (Like truant rogues) the devil, or the fool; Infants of three years old were taught that day, Dunces were whipt, or set upon a stool: The great success of Juan's education, Spurr'd her to teach another generation. Juan embark'd—the ship got under way, The wind was fair, the water passing rough: A devil of a sea rolls in that bay, As I, who 've cross'd it oft, know well enough; And, standing upon deck, the dashing spray Flies in one's face, and makes it weather-tough: And there he stood to take, and take again, His first—perhaps his last—farewell of Spain. I can't but say it is an awkward sight To see one's native land receding through The growing waters; it unmans one quite, Especially when life is rather new: I recollect Great Britain's coast looks white, But almost every other country 's blue, When gazing on them, mystified by distance, We enter on our nautical existence. So Juan stood, bewilder'd on the deck: The wind sung, cordage strain'd, and sailors swore, And the ship creak'd, the town became a speck, From which away so fair and fast they bore. The best of remedies is a beef-steak Against sea-sickness: try it, sir, before You sneer, and I assure you this is true, For I have found it answer—so may you. Don Juan stood, and, gazing from the stern, Beheld his native Spain receding far: First partings form a lesson hard to learn, Even nations feel this when they go to war; There is a sort of unexprest concern, A kind of shock that sets one's heart ajar: At leaving even the most unpleasant people And places, one keeps looking at the steeple. But Juan had got many things to leave, His mother, and a mistress, and no wife, So that he had much better cause to grieve Than many persons more advanced in life; And if we now and then a sigh must heave At quitting even those we quit in strife, No doubt we weep for those the heart endears— That is, till deeper griefs congeal our tears. So Juan wept, as wept the captive Jews By Babel's waters, still remembering Sion: I 'd weep,—but mine is not a weeping Muse, And such light griefs are not a thing to die on; Young men should travel, if but to amuse Themselves; and the next time their servants tie on Behind their carriages their new portmanteau, Perhaps it may be lined with this my canto. And Juan wept, and much he sigh'd and thought, While his salt tears dropp'd into the salt sea, 'Sweets to the sweet' (I like so much to quote; You must excuse this extract, 't is where she, The Queen of Denmark, for Ophelia brought Flowers to the grave); and, sobbing often, he Reflected on his present situation, And seriously resolved on reformation. 'Farewell, my Spain! a long farewell!' he cried, 'Perhaps I may revisit thee no more, But die, as many an exiled heart hath died, Of its own thirst to see again thy shore: Farewell, where Guadalquivir's waters glide! Farewell, my mother! and, since all is o'er, Farewell, too, dearest Julia!—(Here he drew Her letter out again, and read it through.) 'And, oh! if e'er I should forget, I swear— But that 's impossible, and cannot be— Sooner shall this blue ocean melt to air, Sooner shall earth resolve itself to sea, Than I resign thine image, oh, my fair! Or think of any thing excepting thee; A mind diseased no remedy can physic (Here the ship gave a lurch, and he grew sea-sick). 'Sooner shall heaven kiss earth (here he fell sicker), O, Julia! what is every other wo? (For God's sake let me have a glass of liquor; Pedro, Battista, help me down below.) Julia, my love! (you rascal, Pedro, quicker)— O, Julia! (this curst vessel pitches so)— Beloved Julia, hear me still beseeching!' (Here he grew inarticulate with retching.) He felt that chilling heaviness of heart, Or rather stomach, which, alas! attends, Beyond the best apothecary's art, The loss of love, the treachery of friends, Or death of those we dote on, when a part Of us dies with them as each fond hope ends: No doubt he would have been much more pathetic, But the sea acted as a strong emetic. I Love 's a capricious power: I 've known it hold Out through a fever caused by its own heat, But be much puzzled by a cough and cold, And find a quincy very hard to treat; Against all noble maladies he 's bold, But vulgar illnesses don't like to meet, Nor that a sneeze should interrupt his sigh, Nor inflammations redden his blind eye. But worst of all is nausea, or a pain About the lower region of the bowels; Love, who heroically breathes a vein, Shrinks from the application of hot towels, And purgatives are dangerous to his reign, Sea-sickness death: his love was perfect, how else Could Juan's passion, while the billows roar, Resist his stomach, ne'er at sea before? The ship, call'd the most holy 'Trinidada,' Was steering duly for the port Leghorn; For there the Spanish family Moncada Were settled long ere Juan's sire was born: They were relations, and for them he had a Letter of introduction, which the morn Of his departure had been sent him by His Spanish friends for those in Italy. His suite consisted of three servants and A tutor, the licentiate Pedrillo, Who several languages did understand, But now lay sick and speechless on his pillow, And rocking in his hammock, long'd for land, His headache being increased by every billow; And the waves oozing through the port-hole made His berth a little damp, and him afraid. 'T was not without some reason, for the wind Increased at night, until it blew a gale; And though 't was not much to a naval mind, Some landsmen would have look'd a little pale, For sailors are, in fact, a different kind: At sunset they began to take in sail, For the sky show'd it would come on to blow, And carry away, perhaps, a mast or so. At one o'clock the wind with sudden shift Threw the ship right into the trough of the sea, Which struck her aft, and made an awkward rift, Started the stern-post, also shatter'd the Whole of her stern-frame, and, ere she could lift Herself from out her present jeopardy, The rudder tore away: 't was time to sound The pumps, and there were four feet water found. One gang of people instantly was put Upon the pumps and the remainder set To get up part of the cargo, and what not; But they could not come at the leak as yet; At last they did get at it really, but Still their salvation was an even bet: The water rush'd through in a way quite puzzling, While they thrust sheets, shirts, jackets, bales of muslin, Into the opening; but all such ingredients Would have been vain, and they must have gone down, Despite of all their efforts and expedients, But for the pumps: I 'm glad to make them known To all the brother tars who may have need hence, For fifty tons of water were upthrown By them per hour, and they had all been undone, But for the maker, Mr. Mann, of London. As day advanced the weather seem'd to abate, And then the leak they reckon'd to reduce, And keep the ship afloat, though three feet yet Kept two hand and one chain-pump still in use. The wind blew fresh again: as it grew late A squall came on, and while some guns broke loose, A gust—which all descriptive power transcends— Laid with one blast the ship on her beam ends. There she lay motionless, and seem'd upset; The water left the hold, and wash'd the decks, And made a scene men do not soon forget; For they remember battles, fires, and wrecks, Or any other thing that brings regret, Or breaks their hopes, or hearts, or heads, or necks: Thus drownings are much talk'd of by the divers, And swimmers, who may chance to be survivors. Immediately the masts were cut away, Both main and mizen; first the mizen went, The main-mast follow'd: but the ship still lay Like a mere log, and baffled our intent. Foremast and bowsprit were cut down, and they Eased her at last (although we never meant To part with all till every hope was blighted), And then with violence the old ship righted. It may be easily supposed, while this Was going on, some people were unquiet, That passengers would find it much amiss To lose their lives, as well as spoil their diet; That even the able seaman, deeming his Days nearly o'er, might be disposed to riot, As upon such occasions tars will ask For grog, and sometimes drink rum from the cask. There 's nought, no doubt, so much the spirit calms As rum and true religion: thus it was, Some plunder'd, some drank spirits, some sung psalms, The high wind made the treble, and as bas The hoarse harsh waves kept time; fright cured the qualms Of all the luckless landsmen's sea-sick maws: Strange sounds of wailing, blasphemy, devotion, Clamour'd in chorus to the roaring ocean. Perhaps more mischief had been done, but for Our Juan, who, with sense beyond his years, Got to the spirit-room, and stood before It with a pair of pistols; and their fears, As if Death were more dreadful by his door Of fire than water, spite of oaths and tears, Kept still aloof the crew, who, ere they sunk, Thought it would be becoming to die drunk. 'Give us more grog,' they cried, 'for it will be All one an hour hence.' Juan answer'd, 'No! 'T is true that death awaits both you and me, But let us die like men, not sink below Like brutes;'—and thus his dangerous post kept he, And none liked to anticipate the blow; And even Pedrillo, his most reverend tutor, Was for some rum a disappointed suitor. The good old gentleman was quite aghast, And made a loud and pious lamentation; Repented all his sins, and made a last Irrevocable vow of reformation; Nothing should tempt him more (this peril past) To quit his academic occupation, In cloisters of the classic Salamanca, To follow Juan's wake, like Sancho Panca. But now there came a flash of hope once more; Day broke, and the wind lull'd: the masts were gone, The leak increased; shoals round her, but no shore, The vessel swam, yet still she held her own. They tried the pumps again, and though before Their desperate efforts seem'd all useless grown, A glimpse of sunshine set some hands to bale— The stronger pump'd, the weaker thrumm'd a sail. Under the vessel's keel the sail was past, And for the moment it had some effect; But with a leak, and not a stick of mast, Nor rag of canvas, what could they expect? But still 't is best to struggle to the last, 'T is never too late to be wholly wreck'd: And though 't is true that man can only die once, 'T is not so pleasant in the Gulf of Lyons. There winds and waves had hurl'd them, and from thence, Without their will, they carried them away; For they were forced with steering to dispense, And never had as yet a quiet day On which they might repose, or even commence A jurymast or rudder, or could say The ship would swim an hour, which, by good luck, Still swam—though not exactly like a duck. The wind, in fact, perhaps was rather less, But the ship labour'd so, they scarce could hope To weather out much longer; the distress Was also great with which they had to cope For want of water, and their solid mess Was scant enough: in vain the telescope Was used—nor sail nor shore appear'd in sight, Nought but the heavy sea, and coming night. Again the weather threaten'd,—again blew A gale, and in the fore and after hold Water appear'd; yet, though the people knew All this, the most were patient, and some bold, Until the chains and leathers were worn through Of all our pumps:—a wreck complete she roll'd, At mercy of the waves, whose mercies are Like human beings during civil war. Then came the carpenter, at last, with tears In his rough eyes, and told the captain he Could do no more: he was a man in years, And long had voyaged through many a stormy sea, And if he wept at length, they were not fears That made his eyelids as a woman's be, But he, poor fellow, had a wife and children,— Two things for dying people quite bewildering. The ship was evidently settling now Fast by the head; and, all distinction gone, Some went to prayers again, and made a vow Of candles to their saints—but there were none To pay them with; and some look'd o'er the bow; Some hoisted out the boats; and there was one That begg'd Pedrillo for an absolution, Who told him to be damn'd—in his confusion. Some lash'd them in their hammocks; some put on Their best clothes, as if going to a fair; Some cursed the day on which they saw the sun, And gnash'd their teeth, and, howling, tore their hair; And others went on as they had begun, Getting the boats out, being well aware That a tight boat will live in a rough sea, Unless with breakers close beneath her lee. The worst of all was, that in their condition, Having been several days in great distress, 'T was difficult to get out such provision As now might render their long suffering less: Men, even when dying, dislike inanition; Their stock was damaged by the weather's stress: Two casks of biscuit and a keg of butter Were all that could be thrown into the cutter. But in the long-boat they contrived to stow Some pounds of bread, though injured by the wet; Water, a twenty-gallon cask or so; Six flasks of wine; and they contrived to get A portion of their beef up from below, And with a piece of pork, moreover, met, But scarce enough to serve them for a luncheon— Then there was rum, eight gallons in a puncheon. The other boats, the yawl and pinnace, had Been stove in the beginning of the gale; And the long-boat's condition was but bad, As there were but two blankets for a sail, And one oar for a mast, which a young lad Threw in by good luck over the ship's rail; And two boats could not hold, far less be stored, To save one half the people then on board. 'T was twilight, and the sunless day went down Over the waste of waters; like a veil, Which, if withdrawn, would but disclose the frown Of one whose hate is mask'd but to assail, Thus to their hopeless eyes the night was shown, And grimly darkled o'er the faces pale, And the dim desolate deep: twelve days had Fear Been their familiar, and now Death was here. Some trial had been making at a raft, With little hope in such a rolling sea, A sort of thing at which one would have laugh'd, If any laughter at such times could be, Unless with people who too much have quaff'd, And have a kind of wild and horrid glee, Half epileptical and half hysterical:— Their preservation would have been a miracle. At half-past eight o'clock, booms, hencoops, spars, And all things, for a chance, had been cast loose, That still could keep afloat the struggling tars, For yet they strove, although of no great use: There was no light in heaven but a few stars, The boats put off o'ercrowded with their crews; She gave a heel, and then a lurch to port, And, going down head foremost—sunk, in short. Then rose from sea to sky the wild farewell— Then shriek'd the timid, and stood still the brave, Then some leap'd overboard with dreadful yell, As eager to anticipate their grave; And the sea yawn'd around her like a hell, And down she suck'd with her the whirling wave, Like one who grapples with his enemy, And strives to strangle him before he die. And first one universal shriek there rush'd, Louder than the loud ocean, like a crash Of echoing thunder; and then all was hush'd, Save the wild wind and the remorseless dash Of billows; but at intervals there gush'd, Accompanied with a convulsive splash, A solitary shriek, the bubbling cry Of some strong swimmer in his agony. The boats, as stated, had got off before, And in them crowded several of the crew; And yet their present hope was hardly more Than what it had been, for so strong it blew There was slight chance of reaching any shore; And then they were too many, though so few— Nine in the cutter, thirty in the boat, Were counted in them when they got afloat. All the rest perish'd; near two hundred souls Had left their bodies; and what 's worse, alas! When over Catholics the ocean rolls, They must wait several weeks before a mass Takes off one peck of purgatorial coals, Because, till people know what 's come to pass, They won't lay out their money on the dead— It costs three francs for every mass that 's said. Juan got into the long-boat, and there Contrived to help Pedrillo to a place; It seem'd as if they had exchanged their care, For Juan wore the magisterial face Which courage gives, while poor Pedrillo's pair Of eyes were crying for their owner's case: Battista; though (a name call'd shortly Tita), Was lost by getting at some aqua-vita. Pedro, his valet, too, he tried to save, But the same cause, conducive to his loss, Left him so drunk, he jump'd into the wave As o'er the cutter's edge he tried to cross, And so he found a wine-and-watery grave; They could not rescue him although so close, Because the sea ran higher every minute, And for the boat—the crew kept crowding in it. A small old spaniel,—which had been Don Jose's, His father's, whom he loved, as ye may think, For on such things the memory reposes With tenderness—stood howling on the brink, Knowing (dogs have such intellectual noses!), No doubt, the vessel was about to sink; And Juan caught him up, and ere he stepp'd Off, threw him in, then after him he leap'd. He also stuff'd his money where he could About his person, and Pedrillo's too, Who let him do, in fact, whate'er he would, Not knowing what himself to say, or do, As every rising wave his dread renew'd; But Juan, trusting they might still get through, And deeming there were remedies for any ill, Thus re-embark'd his tutor and his spaniel. 'T was a rough night, and blew so stiffly yet, That the sail was becalm'd between the seas, Though on the wave's high top too much to set, They dared not take it in for all the breeze: Each sea curl'd o'er the stern, and kept them wet, And made them bale without a moment's ease, So that themselves as well as hopes were damp'd, And the poor little cutter quickly swamp'd. Nine souls more went in her: the long-boat still Kept above water, with an oar for mast, Two blankets stitch'd together, answering ill Instead of sail, were to the oar made fast: Though every wave roll'd menacing to fill, And present peril all before surpass'd, They grieved for those who perish'd with the cutter, And also for the biscuit-casks and butter. The sun rose red and fiery, a sure sign Of the continuance of the gale: to run Before the sea until it should grow fine, Was all that for the present could be done: A few tea-spoonfuls of their rum and wine Were served out to the people, who begun To faint, and damaged bread wet through the bags, And most of them had little clothes but rags. They counted thirty, crowded in a space Which left scarce room for motion or exertion; They did their best to modify their case, One half sate up, though numb'd with the immersion, While t'other half were laid down in their place At watch and watch; thus, shivering like the tertian Ague in its cold fit, they fill'd their boat, With nothing but the sky for a great coat. 'T is very certain the desire of life Prolongs it: this is obvious to physicians, When patients, neither plagued with friends nor wife, Survive through very desperate conditions, Because they still can hope, nor shines the knife Nor shears of Atropos before their visions: Despair of all recovery spoils longevity, And makes men miseries miseries of alarming brevity. 'T is said that persons living on annuities Are longer lived than others,—God knows why, Unless to plague the grantors,—yet so true it is, That some, I really think, do never die; Of any creditors the worst a Jew it is, And that 's their mode of furnishing supply: In my young days they lent me cash that way, Which I found very troublesome to pay. 'T is thus with people in an open boat, They live upon the love of life, and bear More than can be believed, or even thought, And stand like rocks the tempest's wear and tear; And hardship still has been the sailor's lot, Since Noah's ark went cruising here and there; She had a curious crew as well as cargo, Like the first old Greek privateer, the Argo. But man is a carnivorous production, And must have meals, at least one meal a day; He cannot live, like woodcocks, upon suction, But, like the shark and tiger, must have prey; Although his anatomical construction Bears vegetables, in a grumbling way, Your labouring people think beyond all question, Beef, veal, and mutton, better for digestion. And thus it was with this our hapless crew; For on the third day there came on a calm, And though at first their strength it might renew, And lying on their weariness like balm, Lull'd them like turtles sleeping on the blue Of ocean, when they woke they felt a qualm, And fell all ravenously on their provision, Instead of hoarding it with due precision. The consequence was easily foreseen— They ate up all they had, and drank their wine, In spite of all remonstrances, and then On what, in fact, next day were they to dine? They hoped the wind would rise, these foolish men! And carry them to shore; these hopes were fine, But as they had but one oar, and that brittle, It would have been more wise to save their victual. The fourth day came, but not a breath of air, And Ocean slumber'd like an unwean'd child: The fifth day, and their boat lay floating there, The sea and sky were blue, and clear, and mild— With their one oar (I wish they had had a pair) What could they do? and hunger's rage grew wild: So Juan's spaniel, spite of his entreating, Was kill'd and portion'd out for present eating. On the sixth day they fed upon his hide, And Juan, who had still refused, because The creature was his father's dog that died, Now feeling all the vulture in his jaws, With some remorse received (though first denied) As a great favour one of the fore-paws, Which he divided with Pedrillo, who Devour'd it, longing for the other too. The seventh day, and no wind—the burning sun Blister'd and scorch'd, and, stagnant on the sea, They lay like carcasses; and hope was none, Save in the breeze that came not; savagely They glared upon each other—all was done, Water, and wine, and food,—and you might see The longings of the cannibal arise (Although they spoke not) in their wolfish eyes. At length one whisper'd his companion, who Whisper'd another, and thus it went round, And then into a hoarser murmur grew, An ominous, and wild, and desperate sound; And when his comrade's thought each sufferer knew, 'T was but his own, suppress'd till now, he found: And out they spoke of lots for flesh and blood, And who should die to be his fellow's food. But ere they came to this, they that day shared Some leathern caps, and what remain'd of shoes; And then they look'd around them and despair'd, And none to be the sacrifice would choose; At length the lots were torn up, and prepared, But of materials that much shock the Muse— Having no paper, for the want of better, They took by force from Juan Julia's letter. The lots were made, and mark'd, and mix'd, and handed, In silent horror, and their distribution Lull'd even the savage hunger which demanded, Like the Promethean vulture, this pollution; None in particular had sought or plann'd it, 'T was nature gnaw'd them to this resolution, By which none were permitted to be neuter— And the lot fell on Juan's luckless tutor. He but requested to be bled to death: The surgeon had his instruments, and bled Pedrillo, and so gently ebb'd his breath, You hardly could perceive when he was dead. He died as born, a Catholic in faith, Like most in the belief in which they 're bred, And first a little crucifix he kiss'd, And then held out his jugular and wrist. The surgeon, as there was no other fee, Had his first choice of morsels for his pains; But being thirstiest at the moment, he Preferr'd a draught from the fast-flowing veins: Part was divided, part thrown in the sea, And such things as the entrails and the brains Regaled two sharks, who follow'd o'er the billow— The sailors ate the rest of poor Pedrillo. The sailors ate him, all save three or four, Who were not quite so fond of animal food; To these was added Juan, who, before Refusing his own spaniel, hardly could Feel now his appetite increased much more; 'T was not to be expected that he should, Even in extremity of their disaster, Dine with them on his pastor and his master. 'T was better that he did not; for, in fact, The consequence was awful in the extreme; For they, who were most ravenous in the act, Went raging mad—Lord! how they did blaspheme! And foam and roll, with strange convulsions rack'd, Drinking salt water like a mountain-stream, Tearing, and grinning, howling, screeching, swearing, And, with hyaena-laughter, died despairing. Their numbers were much thinn'd by this infliction, And all the rest were thin enough, Heaven knows; And some of them had lost their recollection, Happier than they who still perceived their woes; But others ponder'd on a new dissection, As if not warn'd sufficiently by those Who had already perish'd, suffering madly, For having used their appetites so sadly. And next they thought upon the master's mate, As fattest; but he saved himself, because, Besides being much averse from such a fate, There were some other reasons: the first was, He had been rather indisposed of late; And that which chiefly proved his saving clause Was a small present made to him at Cadiz, By general subscription of the ladies. Of poor Pedrillo something still remain'd, But was used sparingly,—some were afraid, And others still their appetites constrain'd, Or but at times a little supper made; All except Juan, who throughout abstain'd, Chewing a piece of bamboo and some lead: At length they caught two boobies and a noddy, And then they left off eating the dead body. And if Pedrillo's fate should shocking be, Remember Ugolino condescends To eat the head of his arch-enemy The moment after he politely ends His tale: if foes be food in hell, at sea 'T is surely fair to dine upon our friends, When shipwreck's short allowance grows too scanty, Without being much more horrible than Dante. And the same night there fell a shower of rain, For which their mouths gaped, like the cracks of earth When dried to summer dust; till taught by pain Men really know not what good water 's worth; If you had been in Turkey or in Spain, Or with a famish'd boat's-crew had your berth, Or in the desert heard the camel's bell, You 'd wish yourself where Truth is—in a well. It pour'd down torrents, but they were no richer Until they found a ragged piece of sheet, Which served them as a sort of spongy pitcher, And when they deem'd its moisture was complete They wrung it out, and though a thirsty ditcher Might not have thought the scanty draught so sweet As a full pot of porter, to their thinking They ne'er till now had known the joys of drinking. And their baked lips, with many a bloody crack, Suck'd in the moisture, which like nectar stream'd; Their throats were ovens, their swoln tongues were black, As the rich man's in hell, who vainly scream'd To beg the beggar, who could not rain back A drop of dew, when every drop had seem'd To taste of heaven—If this be true, indeed Some Christians have a comfortable creed. There were two fathers in this ghastly crew, And with them their two sons, of whom the one Was more robust and hardy to the view, But he died early; and when he was gone, His nearest messmate told his sire, who threw One glance at him, and said, 'Heaven's will be done! I can do nothing,' and he saw him thrown Into the deep without a tear or groan. The other father had a weaklier child, Of a soft cheek and aspect delicate; But the boy bore up long, and with a mild And patient spirit held aloof his fate; Little he said, and now and then he smiled, As if to win a part from off the weight He saw increasing on his father's heart, With the deep deadly thought that they must part. And o'er him bent his sire, and never raised His eyes from off his face, but wiped the foam From his pale lips, and ever on him gazed, And when the wish'd-for shower at length was come, And the boy's eyes, which the dull film half glazed, Brighten'd, and for a moment seem'd to roam, He squeezed from out a rag some drops of rain Into his dying child's mouth—but in vain. The boy expired—the father held the clay, And look'd upon it long, and when at last Death left no doubt, and the dead burthen lay Stiff on his heart, and pulse and hope were past, He watch'd it wistfully, until away 'T was borne by the rude wave wherein 't was cast; Then he himself sunk down all dumb and shivering, And gave no sign of life, save his limbs quivering. Now overhead a rainbow, bursting through The scattering clouds, shone, spanning the dark sea, Resting its bright base on the quivering blue; And all within its arch appear'd to be Clearer than that without, and its wide hue Wax'd broad and waving, like a banner free, Then changed like to a bow that 's bent, and then Forsook the dim eyes of these shipwreck'd men. It changed, of course; a heavenly chameleon, The airy child of vapour and the sun, Brought forth in purple, cradled in vermilion, Baptized in molten gold, and swathed in dun, Glittering like crescents o'er a Turk's pavilion, And blending every colour into one, Just like a black eye in a recent scuffle (For sometimes we must box without the muffle). Our shipwreck'd seamen thought it a good omen— It is as well to think so, now and then; 'T was an old custom of the Greek and Roman, And may become of great advantage when Folks are discouraged; and most surely no men Had greater need to nerve themselves again Than these, and so this rainbow look'd like hope— Quite a celestial kaleidoscope. About this time a beautiful white bird, Webfooted, not unlike a dove in size And plumage (probably it might have err'd Upon its course), pass'd oft before their eyes, And tried to perch, although it saw and heard The men within the boat, and in this guise It came and went, and flutter'd round them till Night fell: this seem'd a better omen still. But in this case I also must remark, 'T was well this bird of promise did not perch, Because the tackle of our shatter'd bark Was not so safe for roosting as a church; And had it been the dove from Noah's ark, Returning there from her successful search, Which in their way that moment chanced to fall, They would have eat her, olive-branch and all. With twilight it again came on to blow, But not with violence; the stars shone out, The boat made way; yet now they were so low, They knew not where nor what they were about; Some fancied they saw land, and some said 'No!' The frequent fog-banks gave them cause to doubt— Some swore that they heard breakers, others guns, And all mistook about the latter once. As morning broke, the light wind died away, When he who had the watch sung out and swore, If 't was not land that rose with the sun's ray, He wish'd that land he never might see more; And the rest rubb'd their eyes and saw a bay, Or thought they saw, and shaped their course for shore; For shore it was, and gradually grew Distinct, and high, and palpable to view. And then of these some part burst into tears, And others, looking with a stupid stare, Could not yet separate their hopes from fears, And seem'd as if they had no further care; While a few pray'd (the first time for some years)— And at the bottom of the boat three were Asleep: they shook them by the hand and head, And tried to awaken them, but found them dead. The day before, fast sleeping on the water, They found a turtle of the hawk's-bill kind, And by good fortune, gliding softly, caught her, Which yielded a day's life, and to their mind Proved even still a more nutritious matter, Because it left encouragement behind: They thought that in such perils, more than chance Had sent them this for their deliverance. The land appear'd a high and rocky coast, And higher grew the mountains as they drew, Set by a current, toward it: they were lost In various conjectures, for none knew To what part of the earth they had been tost, So changeable had been the winds that blew; Some thought it was Mount AEtna, some the highlands, Of Candia, Cyprus, Rhodes, or other islands. Meantime the current, with a rising gale, Still set them onwards to the welcome shore, Like Charon's bark of spectres, dull and pale: Their living freight was now reduced to four, And three dead, whom their strength could not avail To heave into the deep with those before, Though the two sharks still follow'd them, and dash'd The spray into their faces as they splash'd. Famine, despair, cold, thirst, and heat, had done Their work on them by turns, and thinn'd them to Such things a mother had not known her son Amidst the skeletons of that gaunt crew; By night chill'd, by day scorch'd, thus one by one They perish'd, until wither'd to these few, But chiefly by a species of self-slaughter, In washing down Pedrillo with salt water. As they drew nigh the land, which now was seen Unequal in its aspect here and there, They felt the freshness of its growing green, That waved in forest-tops, and smooth'd the air, And fell upon their glazed eyes like a screen From glistening waves, and skies so hot and bare— Lovely seem'd any object that should sweep Away the vast, salt, dread, eternal deep. The shore look'd wild, without a trace of man, And girt by formidable waves; but they Were mad for land, and thus their course they ran, Though right ahead the roaring breakers lay: A reef between them also now began To show its boiling surf and bounding spray, But finding no place for their landing better, They ran the boat for shore,—and overset her. But in his native stream, the Guadalquivir, Juan to lave his youthful limbs was won't; And having learnt to swim in that sweet river, Had often turn'd the art to some account: A better swimmer you could scarce see ever, He could, perhaps, have pass'd the Hellespont, As once (a feat on which ourselves we prided) Leander, Mr. Ekenhead, and I did. So here, though faint, emaciated, and stark, He buoy'd his boyish limbs, and strove to ply With the quick wave, and gain, ere it was dark, The beach which lay before him, high and dry: The greatest danger here was from a shark, That carried off his neighbour by the thigh; As for the other two, they could not swim, So nobody arrived on shore but him. Nor yet had he arrived but for the oar, Which, providentially for him, was wash'd Just as his feeble arms could strike no more, And the hard wave o'erwhelm'd him as 't was dash'd Within his grasp; he clung to it, and sore The waters beat while he thereto was lash'd; At last, with swimming, wading, scrambling, he Roll'd on the beach, half-senseless, from the sea: There, breathless, with his digging nails he clung Fast to the sand, lest the returning wave, From whose reluctant roar his life he wrung, Should suck him back to her insatiate grave: And there he lay, full length, where he was flung, Before the entrance of a cliff-worn cave, With just enough of life to feel its pain, And deem that it was saved, perhaps in vain. With slow and staggering effort he arose, But sunk again upon his bleeding knee And quivering hand; and then he look'd for those Who long had been his mates upon the sea; But none of them appear'd to share his woes, Save one, a corpse, from out the famish'd three, Who died two days before, and now had found An unknown barren beach for burial ground. And as he gazed, his dizzy brain spun fast, And down he sunk; and as he sunk, the sand Swam round and round, and all his senses pass'd: He fell upon his side, and his stretch'd hand Droop'd dripping on the oar (their jurymast), And, like a wither'd lily, on the land His slender frame and pallid aspect lay, As fair a thing as e'er was form'd of clay. How long in his damp trance young Juan lay He knew not, for the earth was gone for him, And Time had nothing more of night nor day For his congealing blood, and senses dim; And how this heavy faintness pass'd away He knew not, till each painful pulse and limb, And tingling vein, seem'd throbbing back to life, For Death, though vanquish'd, still retired with strife.