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Don Juan.

Difficile est proprie communia dicere.

HOR. Epist. ad Pison.

Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more Cakes and Ale ?-Yes, by St. Anne; and Ginger shall be hot i' the mouth, too.-Twelfth Night; or What you-Will.



I WANT a hero:-an uncommon want,

When every year and month sends forth a new one, Till, after cloying the gazettes with cant,

The age discovers he is not the true one; Of such as these I should not care to vaunt, I'll therefore take our ancient friend Don Juan; We all have seen him in the pantomime Sent to the devil somewhat ere his time.


Vernon, the butcher, Cumberland, Wolfe, Hawke, Prince Ferdinand, Granby, Burgoyne, Keppeì, Howe, Evil and good, have had their tithe of talk,

And fill'd their sign-posts then, like Wellesley now; Each in their turn like Banquo's monarchs stalk, Followers of fame, "nine farrow" of that sow: France, too, had Buonaparté and Dumourier, Recorded in the Moniteur and Courier.


Barnave, Brissot, Condorcet, Mirabeau,

Petion, Clootz, Danton, Marat, La Fayette,
Were French, and famous people, as we know;
And there were others, scarce forgotten yet,
Joubert, Hoche, Marceau, Launes, Dessaix, Moreau,
With many of the military set,

Exceedingly remarkable at times,
But not at all adapted to my rhymes.


Nelson was once Britannia's god of war,

And still should be so, but the tide is turn'd; There's no more to be said of Trafalgar,

'Tis with our hero quietly inurn'd; Because the army's grown more popular,

At which the naval people are concern'd: Besides, the prince is all for the land-service, Forgetting Duncan, Nelson, Howe, and Jervis.


Brave men were living before Agamemnon,'
And since, exceeding valorous and sage,

A good deal like him too, though quite the same none,
But then they shone not on the poet's page,
And so have been forgotten:- condemn none,
But can't find any in the present age
Fit for my poem (that is, for my new one);
So, as I said, I'll take my friend Don Juan.

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His father's name was Jose-Don, of course,
A true Hidalgo, free from every stain

Of Moor or Hebrew blood, he traced his source
Through the most Gothic gentlemen of Spain,
A better cavalier ne'er mounted horse,

Or, being mounted, e'er got down again,
Than Jose, who begot our hero, who
Begot-but that's to come-Well, to renew:

His mother was a learned lady, famed

For every branch of every science known-
In every Christian language ever named,

With virtues equalled by her wit alone,
She made the cleverest people quite ashamed,
And even the good with inward envy groan,
Finding themselves so very much exceeded
In their own way by all the things that she did.

Her memory was a mine: she knew by heart
All Calderon and greater part of Lopé,

So that if any actor miss'd his part,

She could have served him for the prompter's copy; For her Feinagle s were an useless ar1,

And he himself obliged to shut up shop-he
Could never make a memory so fine as
That which adorn'd the brain of Donna Inez.

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Her favourite science was the mathematical,
Her noblest virtue was her magnanimity,
Her wit (she sometimes tried at wit) was Attic all, Who chose to go where'er he had a mind,

He was a mortal of the careless kind,
With no great love for learning, or the learn'd,

Her serious sayings darken'd to sublimity;
In short, in all things she was fairly what I call
A prodigy-her morning dress was dimity,
Her evening silk, or, in the summer, muslin,
And other stuffs, with which I won't stay puzzling.

She knew the Latin-that is, "the Lord's prayer,"
And Greek, the alphabet, I'm nearly sure;
She read some French romances here and there,
Although her mode of speaking was not pure:
For native Spanish she had no great care,
At least her conversation was obscure;
Her thoughts were theorems, her words a problem,
As if she deem'd that mystery would ennoble 'em.

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In short, she was a walking calculation,
Miss Edgeworth's novels stepping from their covers,
Or Mrs. Trimmer's books on education,

Or "Calebs' Wife" set out in quest of lovers,
Morality's prim personification,

In which not Envy's self a flaw discovers; To others' share let "female errors fall," For she had not even one-the worst of all. XVII.

Oh! she was perfect past all parallel

Of any modern female saint's comparison;
So far above the cunning powers of hell,
Her guardian angel had given up his garrison;
Even her minutest motions went as well

As those of the best time-piece made by Harrison: In virtues nothing earthly could surpass her, incomparable oil," Macassar !2

Save thine


Perfect she was, but as perfection is
Insipid in this naughty world of ours,
Where our first parents never learn'd to kiss
Till they were exiled from their earlier bowers,
Where all was peace, and innocence, and bliss

(I wonder how they got through the twelve hours), Don Jose, like a lineal son of Eve,

Went plucking various fruit without her leave.

And never dream'd his lady was concern'd;
The world, as usual, wickedly inclined

To see a kingdom or a house o'erturn'd,
Whisper'd he had a mistress, some said two,
But for domestic quarrels one will do.


Now Donna Inez had, with all her merit,
A great opinion of her own good qualities;
Neglect, indeed, requires a saint to bear it,

And such indeed she was in her moralities;
But then she had a devil of a spirit,

And sometimes mix'd up fancies with realities, And let few opportunities escape

Of getting her liege lord into a scrape.


This was an easy matter with a man

Oft in the wrong, and never on his guard;
And even the wisest, do the best they can,

Have moments, hours, and days, so unprepared,
That you might "brain them with their lady's fan;"
And sometimes ladies hit exceeding hard,
And fans turn into falchions in fair hands,
And why and wherefore no one understands.

'Tis pity learned virgins ever wed

With persons of no sort of education,
Or gentlemen who, though well-born and bred,
Grow tired of scientific conversation:

I don't choose to say much upon this head,
I'm a plain man, and m a single station,
But-oh! ye lords of ladies intellectual,
Inform us truly, have they not hen-peck'd you all?


Don Jose and his lady quarrell'd-why
Not any of the many could divine,
Though several thousand people chose to try,
'Twas surely no concern of theirs nor mine:

I loathe that low vice curiosity;

But if there's any thing in which I shine, 'Tis in arranging all my friends' affairs, Not having, of my own, domestic cares.


And so I interfered, and with the best
Intentions, but their treatment was not kind;
I think the foolish people were possess'd,
For neither of them could I ever find,
Although their porter afterwards confess'd-
But that's no matter, and the worst's behind.
For little Juan o'er me threw, down stairs,
A pail of housemaid's water unawares.

A little curly-headed, good-for-nothing,

And mischief-making monkey from his birth;
His parents ne'er agreed except in doting
Upon the most unquiet imp on earth;
Instead of quarrelling, had they been but both in
Their senses, they'd have sent young master forta
To school, or had him whipp'd at home,
To teach him manners for the time to come.


Don Jose and the Donna Inez led
For some time an unhappy sort of life,
Wishing each other, not divorced, but dead;
They lived respectably as man and wife,
Their conduct was exceedingly well-bred,

And gave no outward signs of inward strife,
Until at length the smother'd fire broke out,
And put the business past all kind of doubt.

For Inez call'd some druggists and physicians,
And tried to prove her loving lord was mad,
But as he had some lucid intermissions,

She next decided he was only bad;
Yet when they ask'd her for her depositions,
No sort of explanation could be had,
Save that her duty both to man and God
Required this conduct-which seem'd very odd.


She kept a journal, where his faults were noted,
And open'd certain trunks of books and letters,
All which might, if occasion served, be quoted;
And then she had all Seville for abettors,
Besides her good old grandmother (who doted);
The hearers of her case became repeaters,
Then advocates, inquisitors, and judges,
Some for amusement, others for old grudges.

And then this best and meekest woman bore
With such serenity her husband's woes,
Just as the Spartan ladies did of yore,
Who saw their spouses kill'd, and nobly chose
Never to say a word about them more-

Calmly she heard each calumny that rose,
And saw his agonies with such sublimity,
That all the world exclaim'd, "What magnanimity!"



He died and most unluckily, because,

According to all hints I could collect
From counsel learned in those kinds of laws
(Although their talk's obscure and circumspect)
His death contrived to spoil a charming cause;
A thousand pities also with respect
To public feeling, which on this occasion
Was manifested in a great sensation.

But ah! he died; and buried with him lay
The public feeling and the lawyers' fees:
His house was sold, his servants sent away,
A Jew took one of his two mistresses,
A priest the other-at least so they say:
I ask'd the doctors after his disease-
He died of the slow fever called the tertian,
And left his widow to her own aversion.


Yet Jose was an honourable man,

That I must say, who knew him very well;
Therefore his frailties I'll no further scan,
Indeed there were not many more to tell;
And if his passions now and then outran
Discretion, and were not so peaceable
As Numa's (who was also named Pompilius),
He had been ill brought up, and was born bilious.

Whate'er might be his worthlessness or worth,
Poor fellow! he had many things to wound him,
Let's own, since it can do no good on earth;
It was a trying moment that which found him,
Standing alone beside his desolate hearth,
Where all his household gods lay shiver'd round him,
No choice was left his feelings or his pride
Save death or Doctors' Commons-so he died.


No doubt, this patience, when the world is damning us, Dying intestate, Juan was sole heir
Is philosophic in our former friends;
'Tis also pleasant to be deemed magnanimous,
The more so in obtaining our own ends;
And what the lawyers call a "malus animus,"
Conduct like this by no means comprehends;
Revenge in person's certainly no virtue,
But then 't is not my fault if others hurt you.

To a chancery-suit, and messuages, and lands,
Which, with a long minority and care,

And if our quarrels should rip up old stories,
And help them with a lie or two additional,
I'm not to blame, as you well know, no more is
Any one else they were become traditional;
Besides, their resurrection aids our glories

By contrast, which is what we just were wishing all;
And science profits by this resurrection-
Dead scandals form good subjects for dissection.

Their friends had tried at reconciliation,

Then their relations, who made matters worse ('T were hard to tell upon a like occasion

To whom it may be best to have recourseI can't say much for friend or yet relation): The lawyers did their utmost for divorce, But scarce a fee was paid on either side. Before, unluckily, Don Jose died.

Promised to turn out well in proper hands:
Inez became sole guardian, which was fair,
And answer'd but to nature's just demands;
An only son left with an only mother

Is brought up much more wisely than another.

Sagest of women, even of widows, she

Resolved that Juan should be quite a paragon. And worthy of the noblest pedigree

(His sire was of Castile, his dam from Arragon. Then for accomplishments of chivalry,

In case our lord the king should go to war again
He learn'd the arts of riding, fencing, gunnery,
And how to scale a fortress-or a nunnery.


But that which Donna Inez most desired,
And saw into herself each day before al
The learned tutors whom for him she hired,
Was that his breeding should be strictly moral
Much into all his studies she inquired,

And so they were submitted first to her, a!!,
Arts, sciences, no branch was made a mystery
To Juan's eyes, excepting natural history.


The languages, especially the dead,

The sciences, and most of all the abstruse, The arts, at least all such as could be said

To be the most remote from common use, In all these he was much and deeply read; But not a page of any thing that's loose, Or hints continuation of the species, Was ever suffer'd, lest he should grow vicious. XLI.

His classic studies made a little puzzle,

Because of filthy loves of gods and goddesses, Who in the earlier ages raised a bustle,

But never put on pantaloons or boddices; His reverend tutors had at times a tussle,

And for their Eneids, Iliads, and Odysseys, Were forced to make an odd sort of apology, For Donna Inez dreaded the mythology.


Ovid's a rake, as half his verses show him;
Anacreon's morals are a still worse sample;
Catullus scarcely has a decent poem;

I don't think Sappho's Ode a good example, Although Longinus tells us there is no hymn Where the sublime soars forth on wings more ample; But Virgil's songs are pure, except that horrid one Beginning with "Formosum pastor Corydon."


Lucretius' irreligion is too strong

For early stomachs, to prove wholesome food, I can't help thinking Juvenal was wrong, Although no doubt his real intent was good, For speaking out so plainly in his song,

So much indeed as to be downright rude;
And then what proper person can be partial
To all those nauseous epigrams of Martial?

Juan was taught from out the best edition,
Expurgated by learned men, who place,
Judiciously, from out the school-boy's vision,
The grosser parts; but, fearful to deface
Too much their modest bard by this omission,
And pitying sore his mutilated case,
They only add them all in an appendix,4
Which saves, in fact, the trouble of an index;


For there we have them all "at one fell swoop," Instead of being scatter'd through the pages; They stand forth marshall'd in a handsome troop, To meet the ingenuous youth of future ages, Till some less rigid editor shall stoop

To call them back into their separate cages,
Instead of standing staring altogether,
Like garden gods-and not so decent, either.

The Missal too (it was the family Missal)
Was ornamented in a sort of way
Which ancient mass-books often are, and this all
Kinds of grotesques illumined; and how they
Who saw those figures on the margin kiss all,
Could turn their optics to the text and pray
Is more than I know-but Don Juan's mother
Kept this herself, and gave her son another.


Sermons he read, and lectures he endured,
And homilies, and lives of all the saints;
To Jerome and to Chrysostom inured,

He did not take such studies for restraints:
But how faith is acquired, and then insured,
So well not one of the aforesaid paints
As Saint Augustine, in his fine Confessions,
Which make the reader envy his transgressions.

This, too, was a seal'd book to little Juan-
I can't but say that his mamma was right,
If such an education was the true one.

She scarcely trusted him from out her sight;
Her maids were old, and if she took a new one
You might be sure she was a perfect fright;
She did this during even her husband's life-
I recommend as much to every wife.


Young Juan wax'd in goodliness and grace:
At six a charming child, and at eleven
With all the promise of as fine a face

As e'er to man's maturer growth was given:
He studied steadily and grew apace,

And seem'd, at least, in the right road to heaven; For half his days were pass'd at church, the other Between his tutors, confessor, and mother.


At six, I said he was a charming child,
At twelve, he was a fine, but quiet boy;
Although in infancy a little wild,

They tamed him down amongst them: to destroy His natural spirit not in vain they toil'd,

At least at seem'd so; and his mother's joy Was to declare how sage, and still, and steady, Her young philosopher was grown already.


I had my doubts, perhaps I have them still, But what I say is neither here nor there; I knew his father well, and have some skili In character-but it would not be fair From sire to son to augur good or ill:

He and his wife were an ill-sorted pairBut scandal's my aversion-I protest Against all evil speaking, even in jest.


For my part I say nothing-nothing-but
This I will say-my reasons are my own-
That if I had an only son to put

To school (as God be praised that I have none) 'Tis not with Donna Inez I would shut

Him up to learn his catechism alone;
No-no-I'd send him out betimes to college,
For there it was I pick'd up my own knowledge.

For there one learns-'t is not for me to boast,
Though I acquired-but I pass over that,
As well as all the Greek I since have lost:
I say that there's the place-but “ Verbum sit.
I think I pick'd up, too, as well as most,
Knowledge of matters-but, no matter what-
I never married-but I think, I know,
That sons should not be educated so.


Young Juan now was sixteen years of age,
Tall, handsome, slender, but well knit; he seem'd
Active, though not so sprightly, as a page;
And every body but his mother deem'd
Him almost man; but she flew in a rage,

And bit her lips (for else she might have scream'd) If any said so, for to be precocious

Was in her eyes a thing the most atrocious.


Amongst her numerous acquaintance, all
Selected for discretion and devotion,
There was the Donna Julia, whom to call
Pretty were but to give a feeble notion
Of many charms, in her as natural

As sweetness to the flower, or salt to ocean,
Her zone to Venus, or his bow to Cupid
(But this last simile is trite and stupid).

The darkness of her oriental eye

Accorded with her Moorish origin: (Her blood was not all Spanish, by the by; In Spain, you know, this is a sort of sin). When proud Grenada fell, and, forced to fly, Boabdil wept, of Donna Julia's kin Some went to Africa, some stay'd in Spain, Her great-great-grandmamma chose to remain.


She married (I forget the pedigree)

With an Hidalgo, who transmitted down

His blood less noble than such blood should be: At such alliances his sires would frown,

In that point so precise in each degree

That they bred in and in, as might be shown, Marrying their cousins-nay, their aunts and nieces, Which always spoils the breed, if it increases. LVIII.

This heathenish cross restored the breed again,
Ruin'd its blood, but much improved its flesh;
For, from a root, the ugliest in Old Spain,

Sprung up a branch as beautiful as fresh;
The sons no more were short, the daughters plain:
But there's a rumour which I fain would hush-
Tis said that Donna Julia's grandmamma
Produced her Don more heirs at love than law.


However this might be, the race went on
Improving still through every generation,
Until it center'd in an only son,

Who left an only daughter; my narration
May have suggested that this single one

Could be but Julia (whom on this occasion
I shall have much to speak about), and she
Was married, charming, chaste, and twenty-three.

Her eye (I'in very fond of handsome eyes)
Was large and dark, suppressing half its fire
Until she spoke, then through its soft disguise
Flash'd an expression more of pride than ire,
And love than either; and there would arise
A something in them which was not desire,
But would have been, perhaps, but for the soul
Which struggled through and chasten'd down the whole.

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'Tis a sad thing, I cannot choose but say,
And all the fault of that indecent sun
Who cannot leave alone our helpless clay,
But will keep baking, broiling, burning on,
That, howsoever people fast and pray,

The flesh is frail, and so the soul undone:
What men call gallantry, and gods adultery,
Is much more common where the climate 's sultry.

Happy the nations of the moral north!

Where all is virtue, and the winter season Sends sin without a rag on, shivering forth

('T was snow that brought Saint Anthony to reason); Where juries cast up what a wife is worth,

By laying whate'er sum, in mulct, they please on The lover, who must pay a handsome price, Because it is a marketable vice.


Alfonso was the name of Julia's lord,

A man well looking for his years, and who Was neither much beloved nor yet abhorr'd: They lived together as most people do, Suffering each others' foibles by accord,

And not exactly either one or two;
Yet he was jealous, though he did not show it,
For jealousy dislikes the world to know it.

Julia was-yet I never could see why-
With Donna Inez quite a favourite friend;
Between their tastes there was small sympathy,

For not a line had Julia ever penn'd:
Some people whisper (but no doubt they lie,

For malice still imputes some private end) That Inez had, ere Don Alfonso's marriage, Forgot with him her very prudent carriage;


And that, still keeping up the old connexion, Which time had lately render'd much more chaste She took his lady also in affection,

And certainly this course was much the best: She flatter'd Julia with her sage protection,

And complimented Don Alfonso's taste; And if she could not (who can?) silence scandal, At least she left it a more slender handle.

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