Page images
PDF
EPUB

LXXI.

It is. I will not swear that black is white;
But I suspect in fact that white is black,
And the whole matter rests upon eye-sight.
Ask a blind man, the best judge. You'll attack
Perhaps this new position—but I'm right;

Or if I'm wrong, I'll not be ta'en aback:—
He hath no morn nor night, but all is dark
Within; and what seest thou?

LXXII.

A dubious spark.

But I'm relapsing into metaphysics,

That labyrinth, whose clue is of the same Construction as your cures for hectic phthisics, Those bright moths fluttering round a dying flame; And this reflection brings me to plain physics, And to the beauties of a foreign dame, Compared with those of our pure pearls of price, Those polar summers, all sun, and some ice.

LXXIII.

Or say they are like virtuous mermaids, whose
Beginnings are fair faces, ends mere fishes';-
Not that there's not a quantity of those

Who have a due respect for their own wishes.
Like Russians rushing from hot baths to snows (1)
Are they, at bottom virtuous even when vicious:
They warm into a scrape, but keep of course,
As a reserve, a plunge into remorse.

(1) The Russians, as is well known, run out from their hot baths to plunge into the Neva; a pleasant practical antithesis, which it seems does them no harm.

[blocks in formation]

LXXIV.

But this has nought to do with their outsides.
I said that Juan did not think them pretty
At the first blush; for a fair Briton hides
Half her attractions-probably from pity-
And rather calmly into the heart glides,

Than storms it as a foe would take a city;
But once there (if you doubt this, prithee try)
She keeps it for you like a true ally.

LXXV.

She cannot step as does an Arab barb,
Or Andalusian girl from mass returning,
Nor wear as gracefully as Gauls her garb,
Nor in her eye Ausonia's glance is burning;
Her voice, though sweet, is not so fit to warb-
le those bravuras (which I still am learning
To like, though I have been seven years
in Italy,
And have, or had, an ear that served me prettily);-

LXXVI.

She cannot do these things, nor one or two
Others, in that off-hand and dashing style
Which takes so much—to give the devil his due;
Nor is she quite so ready with her smile,
Nor settles all things in one interview,

(A thing approved as saving time and toil);But though the soil may give you time and trouble, Well cultivated, it will render double.

LXXVII.

And if in fact she takes to a "C

grande passion,"
It is a very serious thing indeed:
Nine times in ten 'tis but caprice or fashion,
Coquetry, or a wish to take the lead,

The pride of a mere child with a new sash on,
Or wish to make a rival's bosom bleed:
But the tenth instance will be a tornado,
For there's no saying what they will or may do.

LXXVIII.

The reason's obvious; if there's an éclat,

They lose their caste at once, as do the Parias; And when the delicacies of the law

Have fill'd their papers with their comments various, Society, that china without flaw,

(The hypocrite!) will banish them like Marius, To sit amidst the ruins of their guilt:(1) For Fame's a Carthage not so soon rebuilt.

LXXIX.

Perhaps this is as it should be ;-—it is

A comment on the Gospel's " Sin no more, And be thy sins forgiven:"--but upon this

I leave the saints to settle their own score.

(1) [" A Gaulish or German soldier sent to arrest him, overawed by his aspect, recoiled from the task; and the people of the place, as if moved by the miracle, concurred in aiding his escape. The presence of such an exile on the ground where Carthage had stood was supposed to increase the majesty and the melancholy of the scene. Go,' he said to the lictor who brought him the orders of the prætor to depart, 'tell him that you have seen Marius sitting on the ruins of Carthage.'"-FERGUSON.]

Abroad, though doubtless they do much amiss,
An erring woman finds an opener door
For her return to Virtue-as they call
That lady who should be at home to all.

LXXX.

For me, I leave the matter where I find it,
Knowing that such uneasy virtue leads
People some ten times less in fact to mind it,
And care but for discoveries and not deeds.
And as for chastity, you'll never bind it

By all the laws the strictest lawyer pleads,
But aggravate the crime you have not prevented,
By rendering desperate those who had else repented.

LXXXI.

But Juan was no casuist, nor had ponder'd
Upon the moral lessons of mankind:
Besides, he had not seen of several hundred
A lady altogether to his mind.

A little "blasé❞—'t is not to be wonder'd
At, that his heart had got a tougher rind:
And though not vainer from his past success,
No doubt his sensibilities were less.

LXXXII.

He also had been busy seeing sights-
The Parliament and all the other houses;
Had sat beneath the gallery at nights,

To hear debates whose thunder roused (not rouses)

The world to gaze upon those northern lights Which flash'd as far as where the musk-bull browses ;(1)

He had also stood at times behind the throne-
But Grey (2) was not arrived, and Chatham gone. (3)

LXXXIII.

He saw, however, at the closing session,

That noble sight, when really free the nation, A king in constitutional possession

Of such a throne as is the proudest station, Though despots know it not-till the progression Of freedom shall complete their education. 'Tis not mere splendour makes the show august To eye or heart-it is the people's trust.

LXXXIV.

There, too, he saw (whate'er he may be now)
A Prince, the prince of princes at the time, (4)
With fascination in his very bow,

And full of promise, as the spring of prime.

(1) For a description and print of this inhabitant of the polar region and native country of the Aurora Boreales, see Parry's Voyage in search of a North-west Passage. [See antè, Vol. XII. p. 261.]

(2) [Charles, second Earl Grey, succeeded to the peerage in 1807.]

(3) [William Pitt, first Earl of Chatham, died in May, 1778, after having been carried home from the House of Lords, where he had fainted away at the close of a remarkable speech on the American war.]

(4) ["Nature had bestowed uncommon graces on his figure and person, Convivial as well as social in his temper, destitute of all reserve, and affable even to familiarity in his reception of every person who had the honour to approach him; endued with all the aptitudes to profit of instruction, his mind had been cultivated with great care; and he was probably the

« PreviousContinue »