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(Unless within the period intervenient
A well-timed wedding makes the scandal cool), I don't know how they ever can get over it, Except they manage never to discover it.
Is of a fair complexion altogether;
Which smothers women in a bed of feather, But worthier of these much more jolly fellows,
When weary of the matrimonal tether; His head for such a wife no mortal bothers, But takes at once another, or another's.
You should not, I'll describe it you exactly : 'Tis a long cover'd boat that's common here,
Carved at the prow, built lightly, but compactly, Row'd by two rowers, each call’d“ Gondolier,"
It glides along the water looking blackly,
Her husband sail'd upon the Adriatic,
And made some voyages, too, in other seas; And when he lay in quarantine for pratique
(A forty days' precaution 'gainst disease), His wife would mount at times her highest attic,
For thence she could discern the ship with ease:
Sunburnt with travel, yet a portly figure :
He was a person both of sense and vigour: A better seaman never yet did man yard;
And she, although her manners show'd no rigour, Was deem'd a woman of the strictest principle, So much as to be thought almost invincible.
XXVII, But several years elapsed since they had met; Some people thought the ship was lost, and
some That he had somehow blunder'd into debt
And did not like the thought of steering home; And there were several offer'd any bet,
Or that he would, or that he would not come ; For most men (till by losing render'd sager) Will back their own opinions with a wager.
And up and down the long canals they go,
And under the Rialto shoot along,
And round the theatres, a sable throng,
But not to them do woeful things belong, For sometimes they contain a deal of fun, Like mourning coaches when the funeral's done.
It may be thirty, forty, more or less,
Were all kinds of buffoonery and dress; A certain lady went to see the show,
Her real name I know not, nor can guess ; And so we'll call her Laura, if you please, Because it slips into my verse with ease.
XXVIII. 'Tis said that their last parting was pathetic,
As partings often are, or ought to be; And their presentiment was quite prophetic
That they should never more each other see (A sort of morbid feeling half poetic,
Which I have known occur in two or three), When kneeling on the shore upon her sad knee, He left this Adriatic Ariadne.
She was not old, nor young, nor at the years
Which certain people call a certain age,” Which yet the most uncertain age appears,
Because I never heard, nor could engage A person yet by prayers, or bribes, or tears,
To name, define by speech, or write on page, The period meant precisely by that word, — Which surely is exceedingly absurd.
of time, and tinie return'd the compliment, And treated her genteelly; so that, dress’d,
She look'd extremely well where'er she went; A pretty woman is a welcome guest,
And Laura's brow a frown had rarely bent; Indeed, she shone all smiles, and seem'd to flatter Mankind with her black eyes for looking at her.
XXIX. And Laura waited long, and wept a little, And thought of wearing weeds, as well she
might; She almost lost all appetite for victual,
And could not sleep with ease alone at night: She deem'd the window-frames and shutters brittle
Against a daring housebreaker or sprite, And so she thought it prudent to connect her With a vice-husband, chiefly to protect her.
Because in Christian countries 'tis a rule
Whereas, if single ladies play the fool
She chose (and what is there they will not choose,
If only you will but oppose their choice ?) Till Beppo should return from his long cruise,
And bid once more her faithful heart rejoice, A man some women like, and yet abuse
A coxcomb was he by the public voice; A Count of wealth, they said, as well as quality, And in his pleasures of great liberality.
His “bravo” was decisive, for that sound
To the fair single part of the creation,
Dreading the deep damnation of his “bah!” And this I say without peculiar reference Soprano, basso, even the contra-alto,
To England, France, or any other nation ; Wish'd him five fathom under the Rialto.
Because they know the world, and are at ease,
And being natural, naturally please.
Nay, could himself extemporise some stanzas ; 'Tis true, your budding Miss is very charming,
Sold pictures, and was skilful in the dance as So much alarm'd, that she is quite alarming, Italians can be, though in this their glory
All Giggle, Blush; half Pertness and half Pout ; Must surely yield the palm to that which France And glancing at Mamma, for fear there's harm in
What you, she, it, or they may be about, In short, he was a perfect cavaliero,
The nursery still lisps out in all they utterAnd to his very valet seem'd a hero.
Besides, they always smell of bread and butter.
Used in politest circles to express
Close to the lady as a part of dress, His heart was one of those which most enamour us, Her word the only law which he obeys. Wax to receive, and marble to retain :
His is no sinecure, as you may guess; He was a lover of the good old school,
Coach, servants, gondola, he goes to call, Who still become more constant as they cool. And carries fan and tippet, gloves and shawl.
(1) Cortejo is pronounced Corteho, with an aspirate, is as yet no precise name for in England, though the pracaceording to the Arabesque guttural. 'It means what there tice is as common as in any tramontane country whatever.
Our standing army, and disbanded seamen,
A drunken man's dead eye in maudlin sorrow, Our trifling bankruptcies in the Gazette, But with all Heaven t himself; that day will | Our cloudy climate, and our chilly women, break as
All these I can forgive, and those forget,
But to my tale of Laura-for I find
Digression is a sin, that by degrees
And therefore may the reader too displease
And caring little for the author's ease,
Insist on knowing what he means, a hard Like our liarsh northern whistling, grunting gut- And hapless situation for a bard.
tural, Which we're obliged to hiss, and spit, and sputter
Oh that I had the art of easy writing
What should be easy reading! Could I scale I like the women too (forgive my folly),
Parnassus, where the Muses sit inditing From the rich peasant-cheek of ruddy bronze, Those pretty poems never known to fail, And large black eyes that flash on you a volley
How quickly would I print (the world delighting)
Bat clear, and with a wild and liquid glance, Some samples of the finest Orientalism !
But I am but a nameless sort of person
(A broken Dandy lately on my travels), Eve of the land which still is Paradise !
And take for rhyme, to hook my rambling, verse on, Italian beauty! didst thou not inspire
The first that Walker's Lexicon unravels; Raphael, who died in thy embrace, and vies And when I can't find that, I put a worse on,
With all we know of Heaven, or can desire, Nor caring as I ought for critics' cavils :
I've half a mind to tumble down to prose,
The Count and Laura made their new arrangement, XLVII.
Which lasted, as arrangements sometimes do, "England! with all thy faults I love thee still," For half a dozen years without estrangement. I said at Calais, and have not forgot it;
They had their little differences, too; I like to speak and lucubrate my fill;
Those jealous whiffs, which never any change I like the government (but that is not it);
meant : I like the freedom of the press and quill ;
In such affairs there probably are few I like the Habeas Corpus (when we've got it) : Who have not had this pouting sort of squabble, I like a parliamentary debate,
From sinners of bigh station to the rabble.
But, on the whole, they were a happy pair,
The gentleman was fond, the lady fair, I like a beefsteak, too, as well as any;
Their chains so slight, 'twas not worth while to Have no objection to a pot of beer;
break them. I like the weaiher, when it is not rainy,
The world beheld them with indulgent air ; That is, I like two months of every year;
The pious only wished "the devil take them!” And so God save the Regent, Church and King ! He took them not; he very often waits, Which means that I like all and everything. And leaves old sinners to be young ones' baits.
(1) Note in Edition of 1820 :
In talking thus, the writer, more especially
Of women, would be understood to say, He speaks as a spectator, not officially, And always, reader, in a modest way;
Perhaps, too, in no very great degree shall be
Appear to have offended in this lay,
Stopp'd by the elements, like a whaler, or But they were young :-Oh! what without our
A blundering novice in his new French grammar. youth
Good cause had he to doubt the chance of war; Would love be! What would youth be without
And as for Fortune-but I dare not den her, love!
Because, were I to ponder to infinity,
The more I should believe in her divinity.
She gives us luck in lotteries, love, and marriage. Are always so preposterously jealous.
I cannot say that she's done much for me yet;
Not that I mean her bounties to disparage ;
We've not yet closed accounts, and we shall see yet It was the Carnival, as I have said
How much she'll make amends for past miscarSome six and thirty stanzas back, and so
riage. Laura the usual preparations made,
Meantime the goddess I'll no more importune Which you do when your mind's made up to go
Unless to thank her when she's made my fortune.
To turn-and to return: the devil take it,
This story slips for ever through my fingers, Because, just as the stanza likes to make it,
It needs must be--and so it rather lingers. Laura when dress’d, was (as I sang before) This form of verse begun, I can't well break it, A pretty woman as was ever seen,
But must keep time and tune like public singers ; Fresh as the Augel o'er a new inn door,
But if I once get through my present measure, Or frontispiece of a new Magazine,
I'll take another when I'm next at leisure.
Colour'd, and silver paper leaved between
To which I mean to go myself to-morrow,
Just to divert my thoughts a little space,
Because I'm rather hippish, and may borrow They went to the Ridotto ;-'tis a hall
Some spirits, guessing at what kind of face Where people dance, and sup, and dance again ; May lurk beneath each mask; and as my sorrow Its proper name, perhaps, were a masqued ball; Slackens its pace sometimes, I'll make, or find,
But that's of no importance to my strain. Something shall leave it half an hour belind). 'Tis (on a smaller scale) like our Vauxhall
Now Laura moves along the joyous crowd,
Smiles in her eyes, and simpers on her lips; To some she whispers, others speaks aloud;
To some she curtsies, and to some she dips ; For a “mix'd company” implies that, save'
Complains of warmth, and this complaint avow'd, Yourself and friends, and half a hundred more,
Her lover brings the lemonade she sips ;
She then surveys, condemns, but pities still
Her dearest friends for being dress'd so ill.
The fashionable stare of twenty score
A third—where did she buy that frightful turban?
A fourtlı’s so pale, she fears she's going to faint ; This is the case in England; at least was
A fifth looks vulgar, dowdyish, and suburban; During the dynasty of Dandies, now
A sixth’s white silk bas got a yellow taint; Perchance succeeded by some other class
A seventh's thin muslin surely will be her bane; Of imitated imitators. How
And lo! an eighth appears—I'll see no more ! Irreparably soon decline, alas,
For fear, like Banquo's kings, they reach a score. The demagogues of fashion ! All below Is frail; how easily the world is lost By love, or war, and now and then by frost !
Meantime, while she was thus at others gazing,
Others were levelling their looks at her;
She heard the men's half-whisper'd mode of praisCrushed was Napoleon by the northern Thor,
ing, Who knock’d his armiy down with icy hammer, And, till 't was done, determined not to stir ;
The women only thonght it quite amazing
LXXIV. That, at her time of life, so many were
A stalking oracle of awful phrase Admirers still; but men are so debased,
The approving "Good !” (by no means good in Those brazen creatures always suit their taste.
The bluest of bluebottles you e'er saw,
Why naughty women-but I won't discuss Gorging the little fame he gets all raw,
Translating tongues he knows not even by letter, I only don't see why it should be thus;
And sweating plays so middling, bad were better. And if I were but in a gown and band,
One hates an author that's all author, fellows
So very anxious, clever, fine, and jealous,
One don't know what to say to them, or think,
Unless to puff them with a pair of bellows; While Laura thus was seen, and seeing, smiling,
Of coxcombry's worst coxconibs e'en the pink Talking, she knew not why, and cared not what, So that her female friends, with envy broiling,
Are preferable to these shreds of paper,
These unquench'd snullings of the midniglit taper. Beheld her airs, and triumphs, and all that ; And well-dress'd males still kept before her filing,
LXXVI. And passing bow'd and mingled with her chat,
Of these sanie we see several, and of others, More than the rest one person seem'd to stare
Men of the world, who know the world like men, With pertinacity that's rather rare.
Scott, Rogers, Moore, and all the better brothers,
Who think of something else besides the pen; LXX.
But for the children of the “mighty mother's," He was a Turk, the colour of mahogany;
The would-be wits, and can't be gentlemen, And Laura saw him, and at first was glad, I leave them to their daily." tea is ready," Because the Turks so much admire philogyny, Snug coterie, and literary lady.
Although their usage of their wives is sad; 'Tis said they use no better than a dog any
LXXVII. Poor woman, whom they purchase like a pad ; The poor dear Mussulwomen whom I mention, They have a number, though they ne'er exhibit 'em, Have none of these instructive, pleasant people, Four wives by law, and concubines ad libitum. And one would seem to them a new invention,
Unknown as bells within a Turkish steeple :
I think 'twould almost be worth while to pension They lock them up, and veil, and guard them daily,
(Though best-sown projects very often reap ill) They scarcely can behold their male relations,
A missionary author, just to preach So that their moments do not pass so gaily
Our Christian usage of the parts of speech. As is supposed the case with northern nations.
LXXVIII. Confinement, too, must make them look quite palely ;
And as the Turks abhor long conversations, No chemistry for them unfolds her gasses, Their days are either pass'd in doing nothing, No metaphysics are let loose in lectures, Or bathing, nursing, making love, and clothing. No circulating library amasses
Religious novels, moral tales, and strictures Upon the living manners, as they pass us,
No exhibition glares with annual pictures : They cannot read, and so don't lisp in criticism
; Nor write, and so they don't affect the muse;
They stare not on the stars from out their attics, Were never caught in epigram or witticism ;
Nor deal (thank God for that !) in mathematics. Have no romances, sermons, plays, reviews.
LXXIX. In liarems learning soon would make a pretty Why I thank God for that is no great matter,
schism, But luckily these beauties are no “ Blues ;”
I have my reasons, you no doubt suppose ; No bustling Botherbys have they to show 'em
And as, perhaps, they would not highly flatter, “That charming passage in the last new poem.”
I'll keep them for my life (to come) in prose : I fear I have a little turn for satire,
And yet methinks, the older that one grows LXXIII.
Inclines us more to laugh than scold, though No solemn antique gentleman of rhyme,
laughter Who, having angled all his life for fame, Leaves us so doubly serious shortly after, And getting but a nibble at a time,
Still fussily keeps fishing on, the same Small “ Triton of the minnows,” the sublim
Oh, mirth and innocence! oh, milk and water! Of mediocrity, the furious tame,
Ye happy mixtures of more happy days ! The echo's echo, usher of the school
In these sad centuries of sin and slaugliter, Of female wits, boy bards-in short, a fool !
Abominable Man no more allays