Page images

(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.

Their jealousy (if they are ever jealous)

Is of a fair complexion altogether;
Not like that sooty devil of Othello's,

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.


Did'st ever see a Gondola ? For fear

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,
Just like a coffin clapt in a canoe,
Where none can make out what you say or do.


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:
He was a merchant trading to Aleppo,
His name Giuseppe, call’d more briefly Beppo.

He was a man as dusky as a Spaniard,

Sunburnt with travel, yet a portly figure :
Though colour'd, as it were, within a tanyard,

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,
By night and day, all paces, swift or slow,

And round the theatres, a sable throng,
They wait in their dusk livery of woe;

But not to them do woeful things belong, For sometimes they contain a deal of fun, Like mourning coaches when the funeral's done.

But to my story. 'Twas some years ago,

It may be thirty, forty, more or less,
The Carnival was at its height, and so

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.

Laura was blooming still, had made the best

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.


She was a married woman : 'tis convenient,

Because in Christian countries 'tis a rule
To view their little slips with eyes more lenient;

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.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

His “bravo” was decisive, for that sound

Husb’d “ Academie" sigl'd in silent awe; However, I still think, with all due deference
The fiddlers trembled as he look'd around,

To the fair single part of the creation,
For fear of some false note's detected flaw. That married ladies should preserve the preference
The " prima donna's" tuneful heart would bound, In tête-à-léte or general conversation.

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.
He patronised the Improvisatori,

Nay, could himself extemporise some stanzas ; 'Tis true, your budding Miss is very charming,
Wrote rhymes, sang songs, could also tell a story; But shy and awkward at first coming out,

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.




Then he was faithful, too, as well as amorous ; But. “ Cavalier Servente” is the plırase
So that no sort of female could complain ;

Used in politest circles to express
Although they're now and then a little clamorous, This supernumerary slave, who stays
He never put the pretty souls in pain.

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.

[blocks in formation]

(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.



I also like to dine on becaficas,

Our standing army, and disbanded seamen,
To see the sun set, sure he'll rise to-morrow, Poor's rate, Reform, my own, the nation's debt,
Not through a misty morning twinkling weak as Our little riots just to show we are free meu,

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,
Beauteous as cloudless, nor be forced to borrow And greatly venerate our recent glories,
That sort of farthing candlelight which glimmers And wish they were not owing to the Tories.
Where reeking London's smoky cauldron simmers.


But to my tale of Laura-for I find
I love the language, that soft bastard Latin,

Digression is a sin, that by degrees
Which melts like kisses from a female mouth, Becomes exceeding tedious to my mind,
And sounds as if it should be writ on satin,

And therefore may the reader too displease
With syllables which breathe of the sweet South, The gentle reader, who may wax unkind,
And gentle Iquids gliding all so pat in,

And caring little for the author's ease,
That not a single accent seems uncouth,

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

LI. all.

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)
Or rays that say a thousand things at once, A Grecian, Syrian, or Assyrian tale!
To the high dama's brow, more melancholy, And sell you, mix'd with Western sentimentalism,

Bat clear, and with a wild and liquid glance, Some samples of the finest Orientalism !
Heart on her lips, and soul within her eyes,
Soft as her clime, and sunny as her skies.


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 :
In what he hath bequeath'd us ?-in what guise,

I've half a mind to tumble down to prose,
Thouglı flashing from the fervour of the lyre, But verse is more in fashion--so here goes.
Would words describe thy past and present glow,
While yet Canova can create below 21


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.
Particularly when 'tis not too late ;


But, on the whole, they were a happy pair,
I like the taxes, when they're not too many ; As happy as unlawful love could make them ;
I like a seacoal fire, wlien not too dear;

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,
Since, as all know, without the sex our sonnets
Would seem unfinished, like their untrimmed bonnets.




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,
Yontb lends it joy, and sweetness, vigour, truth,

The more I should believe in her divinity.
Heart, soul, and all that seems as from above;
But, languishing with years, it grows uncouth-

One of few things experience don't improve, She rules the present, past, and all to be yet;
Which is perhaps the reason why old fellows

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-night to Mrs. Boehm's masquerade,
Spectator, or partaker in the slow;

The only difference known between the cases
Is-here, we have six weeks of “varnisl’d faces.”

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.
With all the fashions which the last month wore,

Colour'd, and silver paper leaved between
Tliat and the title-page, for fear the press
Should soil with parts of speech the parts of dress. They went to the Ridotto ('tis a place

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

Excepting that it can't be spoilt by rain :
The company is “mix'd” (the phrase I quote is
As much as saying, they're below your notice);

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 ;
Whom you may bow to without looking grave,
The rest are but a vulgar set, the bore

She then surveys, condemns, but pities still

Her dearest friends for being dress'd so ill.
Of public places, where they basely brave

The fashionable stare of twenty score
Of well-bred persons, callid “ The World;" but I,

Although I know them, really don't know why. One has false curls, another too much paint;

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.

Humming like flies around the newest blaze,

The bluest of bluebottles you e'er saw,
For my part, now, I ne'er could understand Teasing with blame, excruciating with praise,

Why naughty women-but I won't discuss Gorging the little fame he gets all raw,
A thing which is a scandal to the land,

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,

Just to entitle me to make a fuss,
I'd preach on this till Wilberforce and Romilly

One hates an author that's all author, fellows
Should quote in their next speeches from my homily. In foolscap uniforms turn'd up with ink,

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




« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »