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DON JU A N.
CANTO THE FIFTH.
When amatory poets sing their loves
In liquid lines mellifluously bland, And pair their rhymes as Venus yokes her doves,
They little think what mischief is in hand; The greater their success the worse it proves,
As Ovid's verse may give to understand; Even Petrarch's self, if judged with due severity, Is the Platonic pimp of all posterity.(")
I therefore do denounce all amorous writing,
Except in such a way as not to attract; Plain — simple--short, and by no means inviting,
But with a moral to each error tack'd,
And with all passions in their turn attack'd;
will become a moral model.
(1) [See “Hobhouse's Historical Notes to the Fourth Canto of Childe Harold," antè, Vol. VIII, p. 285.]
The European with the Asian shore
Sprinkled with palaces; the ocean stream (1)
Sophia's cupola with golden gleam ;()
The twelve isles, and the more than I could dream, Far less describe, present the very
view Which charm’d the charming Mary Montagu.(3)
For once it was a magic sound to me;
Where I beheld what never was to be; (1) 'Nxscvoso peoso. This expression of Homer has been much criticised. It hardly answers to our Atlantic ideas of the ocean, but is sufficiently applicable to the Hellespont, and the Bosphorus, with the Ægean intersected with islands.
(2) [" Lady Mary Wortley errs strangely when she says, "St. Paul's would cut a strange figure by St. Sophia.' I have been in both, surveyed them inside and out attentively. St. Sophia's is undoubtedly the most interesting, from its immense antiquity, and the circumstance of all the Greek emperors, from Justinian, having been crowned there, and several mur. dered at the altar, besides the Turkish sultans who attended it regularly. But it is not to be mentioned in the same page with St. Paul's (I speak like a Cockney)." - B. Letters, 1810.]
(3) [“ The pleasure of going in a barge to Chelsea is not comparable to that of rowing upon the canal of the sea here, where, for twenty miles together, down the Bosphorus, the most beautiful variety of prospects present themselves. The Asian side is covered with fruit trees, villages, and the most delightful landscapes in nature; on the European stands Constanti. nople, situated on seven hills; showing an agreeable mixture of gardens, pine and cypress trees, palaces, mosques, and public buildings, raised one above another, with as much beauty and appearance of symmetry as you ever saw in a cabinet adorned by the most skilful hands, where jars show themselves above jars, mixed with canisters, babies, and candlesticks. This is a very odd comparison; but it gives me an exact idea of the thing.". LADY M. W. Montagu.] < (4) [See antè, Vol. VII. pp. 43. 291.]
All feelings changed, but this was last to vary,
A spell from which even yet I am not quite free: But I grow
sad—and let a tale grow cold, Which must not be pathetically told.
The wind swept down the Euxine, and the wave
Broke foaming o'er the blue Symplegades; 'Tis a grand sight from off“ the Giant's Grave" ()
To watch the progress of those rolling seas Between the Bosphorus, as they lash and lave()
Europe and Asia, you being quite at ease; There's not a sea the passenger e'er pukes in, Turns up more dangerous breakers than the Euxine.
'Twas a raw day of Autumn's bleak beginning,
When nights are equal, but not so the days; The Parcæ then cut short the further spinning
Of seamen's fates, and the loud tempests raise (3) The waters, and repentance for past sinning
In all, who o'er the great deep take their ways: They vow to amend their lives, and yet they don't ; Because if drown'd, they can't-if spared, they won't.
(1) The “ Giant's Grave" is a height on the Asiatic shore of the Bosphorus, much frequented by holiday parties ; like Harrow and Highgate. [In less than an hour, we were on the top of the mountain, and repaired to the Tekeh, or Dervishes' chapel, where we were shewn, in the adjoining garden, a flower-bed more than fifty feet long, rimmed round with stone, and having a sepulchral turban at each end, which preserves a superstition attached to the spot long before the time of the Turks, or of the Byzantine Christians; and which, after having been called the tomb of Amycus, and the bed of Hercules, is now known as the Giant's Grave. - HOBHOUSE.]
(2) [MS. .-“ Which lash the Bosphorus, and lashing lave."] (3) [MS. — “For then the Parcæ are most busy spinning
The fates of seamen, and the loud winds raise."]
A crowd of shivering slaves of every nation,
And age, and sex, were in the market ranged; Each bevy with the merchant in his station :
Poor creatures! their good looks were sadly changed. All save the blacks seem'd jaded with vexation,
From friends, and home, and freedom far estranged;
Used to it, no doubt, as eels are to be flay'd. (')
Juan was juvenile, and thus was full,
As most at his age are, of hope, and health ; Yet I must own, he look'd a little dull,
And now and then a tear stole down by stealth; Perhaps his recent loss of blood might pull
His spirit down; and then the loss of wealth,
Were things to shake a stoic; ne'ertheless,
Upon the whole his carriage was serene: His figure, and the splendour of his dress,
Of which some gilded remnants still were seen, Drew all eyes on him, giving them to guess
He was above the vulgar by his mien; And then, though pale, he was so very handsome; And then-they calculated on his ransom. :()
(1) [MS. — “From use— no doubt — as eels are — to be flay'd,"]
And then they calculated on his ransom,
Like a backgammon board the place was dotted
With whites and blacks, in groups on show for sale, Though rather more irregularly spotted:
Some bought the jet, while others chose the pale. It chanced amongst the other people lotted,
A man of thirty, rather stout and hale,(1)
He had an English look; that is, was square
In make, of a complexion white and ruddy, Good teeth, with curling rather dark brown hair,
And, it might be from thought, or toil, or study, An open
brow a little mark'd with care: One arm had on a bandage rather bloody; And there he stood with such sang-froid, that greater Could scarce be shown even by a mere spectator.
But seeing at his elbow a mere lad,
Of a high spirit evidently, though
O’erthrown even men, he soon began to show
Lot of so young a partner in the woe, Which for himself he seem'd to deem no worse Than any other
scrape, a thing of course.
(1) [MS. –“ It chanced, that near him, separately lotted,
From out the groups of slaves put up for sale,