Page images
PDF
EPUB

CXIV.

Some went off dearly; fifteen hundred dollars

For one Circassian, a sweet girl, were given, Warranted virgin; beauty's brightest colours

Had deck'd her out in all the hues of heaven: Her sale sent home some disappointed bawlers,

Who bade on till the hundreds reach'd eleven ; (TM) But when the offer went beyond, they knew 'Twas for the Sultan, and at once withdrew.

CXV.

Twelve negresses from Nubia brought a price

Which the West Indian market scarce would bring; Though Wilberforce, at last, has made it twice

What 't was ere Abolition ; and the thing Need not seem very wonderful, for vice

Is always much more splendid than a king: The virtues, even the most exalted, Charity, Are saving — vice spares nothing for a rarity.

(1) [The manner of purchasing slaves is thus described in the plain and unaffected narrative of a German merchant, “ which," says Mr. Thorn. ton, “ as I have been able to ascertain its general authenticity, may be relied upon as correct.” The girls were introduced to me one after another. A Circassian maiden, eighteen years old, was the first who presented herself: she was well.dressed, and her face was covered with a veil. She advanced towards me, bowed down and kissed my hand : by order of her master she walked backwards and forwards, to show her shape and the easiness of her gait and carriage. When she took off her veil, she displayed a bust of the most attractive beauty: she rubbed her cheeks with a wet napkin, to prove that she had not used art to heighten her complexion; and she opened her inviting lips, to show a regular set of teeth of pearly whiteness. I was permitted to feel her pulse, that I might be convinced of the good state of her health and constitution. She was then ordered to retire while we deliberated upon the bargain. The price of this beautiful girl was four thousand piastres." — See Voyage de N. E. Kleeman, and also Thornton's Turkey, vol. ii. p. 289.]

CXVI.

But for the destiny of this young troop,

How some were bought by pachas, some by Jews, How some to burdens were obliged to stoop,

And others rose to the command of crews As renegadoes; while in hapless group,

Hoping no very old vizier might choose, The females stood, as one by one they pick'd 'em, To make a mistress, or fourth wife, or victim:(1)

CXVII.

All this must be reserved for further song;

Also our hero's lot, howe'er unpleasant (Because this Canto has become too long),

Must be postponed discreetly for the present; I'm sensible redundancy is wrong,

But could not for the muse of me put less in't: And now delay the progress of Don Juan, Till what is call'd in Ossian the fifth Duan.

(1) [MS. — “ The females stood, till chosen each as victim

To the soft oath of ' Ana seing Siktum!'”

DON JUAN.

CANTO THE FIFTH.

58

[Canto V. was begun at Ravenna, October the 16th, and finished November the 20th, 1820. It was published, as has been already mentioned, late in 1821, along with Cantos III. and IV. ; and here the Poet meant to stop — for what reason, the subjoined extracts from his letters will show :

February 16. 1821. “ The fifth is so far from being the last of Don Juan, that it is hardly the beginning. I meant to take him the tour of Europe, with a proper mixture of siege, battle, and adventure, and to make him finish as Anacharsis Cloots, in the French Revolution. To how many cantos this may extend, I know not, nor whether (even if I live) I shall complete it ; but this was my notion. I meant to have made him a Cavalier Servente in Italy, and a cause for a divorce in England, and a sentimental

Werther-faced man'in Germany, so as to show the different ridicules of the society in each of those countries, and to have displayed him gradually gáté and blasé as he grew older, as is natural. But I had not quite fixed whether to make him end in hell, or in an unhappy marriage, not knowing which would be the severest: the Spanish tradition says hell; but it is probably only an allegory of the other state. You are now in possession of my notions on the subject."

July 6. 1821. “ At the particular request of the Contessa Guiccioli I have promised not to continue Don Juan. You will therefore look upon these three Cantos as the last of the poem. She had read the two first in the French translation, and never ceased beseeching me to write no more of it. The reason of this is not at first obvious to a superficial observer of FOREIGN manners;

but it arises from the wish of all women to exalt the sentiment of the passions, and to keep up the illusion which is their empire. Now, Don Juan strips off this illusion, and laughs at that and most other things. I never knew a woman who did not protect Rousseau, nor one who did not dislike De Grammont, Gil Blas, and all the comedy of the passions, when brought out naturally. But 'king's blood must keep word,' as Serjeant Bothwell says."

September 4. 1821. I read over the Juans, which are excellent. Your squad are quite wrong; and so you will find, by and by. I regret that I do not go on with it, for I had all the plan for several cantos, and different countries and climes. You say nothing of the note I enclosed to you, which will explain why I agreed to discontinue it.”

In Madame Guiccioli's note, here referred to, she had said, “ Remember, my Byron, the promise you have made me. Never shall I be able to tell you the satisfaction I feel from it; so great are the sentiments of pleasure and confidence with which the sacrifice you have made has inspired me.” ” – E.]

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »