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As to announce his visits a long while
Before he came, especially at night;
His Highness was a man of solemn port,
Shawl'd to the nose, and bearded to the eyes, Snatch'd from a prison to preside at court,
His lately bowstrung brother caused his rise;
As any mention'd in the histories
prayers With more than “ Oriental scrupulosity;"(?) He left to his vizier all state affairs,
And show'd but little royal curiosity : I know not if he had domestic cares —
No process proved connubial animosity; Four wives and twice five hundred maids, unseen, Were ruled as calmly as a Christian queen.(3)
(1) It may not be unworthy of remark, that Bacon, in his essay on “ Empire,” hints that Solyman was the last of his line; on what authority, I know not. These are his words :-“ The destruction of Mustapha was so fatal to Solyman's line, as the succession of the Turks from Solyman, until this day, is suspected to be untrue, and of strange blood; for that Selymus the second was thought to be supposititious.” But Bacon, in his historical authorities, is often inaccurate. I could give half a dozen instances from his Apophthegms only. (See APPENDIX to this Canto, p. 120. post. ]
Ruled four wives and twelve hundred whores, unseen,
If now and then there happen'd a slight slip,
Little was heard of criminal or crime; The story scarcely pass'd a single lip
The sack and sea had settled all in time, From which the secret nobody could rip:
The Public knew no more than does this rhyme; No scandals made the daily press a curse — Morals were better, and the fish no worse. (1)
He saw with his own eyes the moon was round,
Was also certain that the earth was square, Because he had journey'd fifty miles, and found No sign that it was circular any
where; His empire also was without a bound:
'Tis true, a little troubled here and there, By rebel pachas, and encroaching giaours, But then they never came to “the Seven Towers;" (2)
(1) [MS. — “ There ended many a fair Sultana's trip :
The Public knew no more than does this rhyme
Were better - while the morals were no worse.”] (2) [The state prison of Constantinople, in which the Porte shuts up the ministers of hostile powers who are dilatory in taking their departure, under pretence of protecting them from the insults of the mob. – Hope.
We attempted to visit the Seven Towers, but were stopped at the entrance, and informed that without a firman it was inaccessible to strangers. It was supposed that Count Bulukoff, the Russian minister, would be the last of the Moussafirs, or imperial hostages, confined in this fortress; but since the year 1784, M. Ruffin and many of the French have been imprisoned in the same place; and the dungeons were gaping, it seems, for the sacred persons of the gentlemen composing his Britannic Majesty's mission, previous to the rupture between Great Britain and the Porte in 1809. - HOBHOUSE.]
Except in shape of envoys, who were sent
To lodge there when a war broke out, according To the true law of nations, which ne'er meant
Those scoundrels, who have never had a sword in Their dirty diplomatic hands, to vent
Their spleen in making strife, and safely wording Their lies, yclep'd despatches, without risk or The singeing of a single inky whisker.
He had fifty daughters and four dozen sons,
Of whom all such as came of age were stow'd, The former in a palace, where like nuns
They lived till some Bashaw was sent abroad, When she, whose turn it was, was wed at once,
Sometimes at six years old (1)—though this seems 'Tis true; the reason is, that the Bashaw [odd, Must make a present to his sire in law.
Of years to fill a bowstring or the throne,
Could yet be known unto the fates alone; Meantime the education they went through
Was princely, as the proofs have always shown: So that the heir apparent still was found No less deserving to be hang'd than crown'd.
(1) [" The princess" (Sulta Asma, daughter of Achmet III.) “exclaimed against the barbarity of the institution which, at six years old, had put her in the power of a decrepid old man, who, by treating her like a child, had only inspired disgust.” – De Tott.]
His Majesty saluted his fourth spouse
With all the ceremonies of his rank, [brows, Who clear'd her sparkling eyes and smooth’d her
As suits a matron who has play'd a prank; These must seem doubly mindful of their vows,
To save the credit of their breaking bank: To no men are such cordial greetings given As those whose wives have made them fit for heaven.
His Highness cast around his great black eyes,
And looking, as he always look'd, perceived Juan amongst the damsels in disguise,
At which he seem'd no whit surprised nor grieved, But just remark'd with air sedate and wise,
While still a fluttering sigh Gulbeyaz heaved, “ I see you've bought another girl ; 't is pity That a mere Christian should be half so pretty.”
This compliment, which drew all eyes upon
The new-bought virgin, made her blush and shake. Her comrades, also, thought themselves undone:
Oh! Mahomet! that his Majesty should take
Of them his lips imperial ever spake !
The Turks do well to shut—at least, sometimes
The women up-because, in sad reality, Their chastity in these unhappy climes
Is not a thing of that astringent quality Which in the North prevents precocious crimes,
And makes our snow less pure than our morality; The sun, which yearly melts the polar ice, Has quite the contrary effect on vice.
Thus in the East they are extremely strict,
And Wedlock and a Padlock mean the same; Excepting only when the former's pick'd
It ne'er can be replaced in proper frame; Spoilt, as a pipe of claret is when prick’d:
But then their own Polygamy's to blame; Why don't they knead two virtuous souls for life Into that moral centaur, man and wife ? (1)
Thus far our chronicle; and now we pause,
Though not for want of matter; but 'tis time, According to the ancient epic laws,
To slacken sail, and anchor with our rhyme.
(1) [This stanza — which Lord Byron composed in bed, Feb. 27. 1821, (see antè, Vol. V. p. 107.) is not in the first edition. On discovering the omission, he thus remonstrated with Mr. Murray: Upon what princi. ple have you omitted one of the concluding stanzas sent as an addition ? because it ended, I suppose, with
And do not link two virtuous souls for life
Into that moral centaur, man and wife?' “ Now, I'must say, once for all, that I will not permit any human being to take such liberties with my writings because I am absent. I desire the