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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,
Exceedingly remarkable at times,
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,'
A good deal like him too, though quite the same none,
His father's name was Jose-Don, of course,
Of Moor or Hebrew blood, he traced his source
Or, being mounted, e'er got down again,
His mother was a learned lady, famed
For every branch of every science known-
With virtues equalled by her wit alone,
Her memory was a mine: she knew by heart
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
Her favourite science was the mathematical,
He was a mortal of the careless kind,
Her serious sayings darken'd to sublimity;
She knew the Latin-that is, "the Lord's prayer,"
In short, she was a walking calculation,
Or "Calebs' Wife" set out in quest of lovers,
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;
As those of the best time-piece made by Harrison: In virtues nothing earthly could surpass her, incomparable oil," Macassar !2
Perfect she was, but as perfection is
(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;
To see a kingdom or a house o'erturn'd,
Now Donna Inez had, with all her merit,
And such indeed she was in her moralities;
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;
Have moments, hours, and days, so unprepared,
'Tis pity learned virgins ever wed
With persons of no sort of education,
I don't choose to say much upon this head,
Don Jose and his lady quarrell'd-why
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
A little curly-headed, good-for-nothing,
And mischief-making monkey from his birth;
Don Jose and the Donna Inez led
And gave no outward signs of inward strife,
For Inez call'd some druggists and physicians,
She next decided he was only bad;
She kept a journal, where his faults were noted,
And then this best and meekest woman bore
Calmly she heard each calumny that rose,
He died and most unluckily, because,
According to all hints I could collect
But ah! he died; and buried with him lay
Yet Jose was an honourable man,
That I must say, who knew him very well;
Whate'er might be his worthlessness or worth,
No doubt, this patience, when the world is damning us, Dying intestate, Juan was sole heir
To a chancery-suit, and messuages, and lands,
And if our quarrels should rip up old stories,
By contrast, which is what we just were wishing all;
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:
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
But that which Donna Inez most desired,
And so they were submitted first to her, a!!,
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;
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;
Juan was taught from out the best edition,
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,
The Missal too (it was the family Missal)
Sermons he read, and lectures he endured,
He did not take such studies for restraints:
This, too, was a seal'd book to little Juan-
She scarcely trusted him from out her sight;
Young Juan wax'd in goodliness and grace:
As e'er to man's maturer growth was given:
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,
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
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;
For there one learns-'t is not for me to boast,
Young Juan now was sixteen years of age,
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
As sweetness to the flower, or salt to ocean,
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,
Sprung up a branch as beautiful as fresh;
However this might be, the race went on
Who left an only daughter; my narration
Could be but Julia (whom on this occasion
Her eye (I'in very fond of handsome eyes)
'Tis a sad thing, I cannot choose but say,
The flesh is frail, and so the soul undone:
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;
Julia was-yet I never could see why-
For not a line had Julia ever penn'd:
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.