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I can't tell whether Julia saw the affair
With other people's eyes, or if her own
Discoveries made, but none could be aware
Of this, at least no symptom e'er was shown;
Perhaps she did not know, or did not care,
Indifferent from the first or callous grown:
I'm really puzzled what to think or say,
She kept her counsel in so close a way.
Juan she saw, and, as a pretty child,
Caress'd him often, such a thing might be Quite innocently done, and harmless styled
When she had twenty years, and thirteen he;
But I am not so sure I should have smiled
When he was sixteen, Julia twenty-three:
These few short years make wondrous alterations,
Particularly amongst sun-burnt nations.
Whate'er the cause might be, they had become
Changed; for the dame grew distant, the youth shy,
Their looks cast down, their greetings almost dumb,
And much embarrassment in either eye;
There surely will be little doubt with some
That Donna Julia knew the reason why,
But as for Juan, he had no more notion
Then he who never saw the sea of ocean.
Yet Julia's very coldness "still was kind,
And tremulously gentle her small hand
Withdrew itself from his, but left behind
A little pressure, thrilling, and so bland
And slight, so very slight, that to the mind
'T was but a doubt; but ne'er magician's wand Wrought change with all Armida's fiery art Lake what this light touch left on Juan's heart.
And if she met him, though she smiled no more,
She look'd a sadness sweeter than her smile,
As if her heart had deeper thoughts in store
She must not own, but cherish'd more the while,
For that compression in its burning core;
Even innocence itself has many a wile,
And will not dare to trust itself with truth,
And love is taught hypocrisy from youth.
But passion most dissembles, yet betrays
Even by its darkness; as the blackest sky Foretells the heaviest tempest, it displays
Its workings through the vainly-guarded eye, And in whatever aspect it arrays
Itself, 't is still the same hypocrisy ; Coldness or anger, even disdain or hate, Are masks it often wears, and still too late.
Then there were sighs, the deeper for suppression,
And stolen glances, sweeter for the theft,
And burning blushes, though for no transgression,
Tremblings when met, and restlessness when left:
All these are little preludes to possession,
Of which young passion cannot be bereft,
And merely tend to show how greatly love is
Embarrass'd at first starting with a novice.
Poor Julia's heart was in an awkward state:
She felt it going, and resolved to make
The noblest efforts for herself and mate,
For honour's, pride's, religion's, virtue's sake:
Her resolutions were most truly great,
And almost might have made a Tarquin quake
She pray'd the Virgin Mary for her grace,
As being the best judge of a lady's case.
She vow'd she never would see Juan more,
And next day paid a visit to his mother,
And look'd extremely at the opening door,
Which, by the Virgin's grace, let in another;
Grateful she was, and yet a little sore-
Again it opens, it can be no other,
'Tis surely Juan now-No! I'm afraid
That night the Virgin was no further pray'd.
She now determined that a virtuous woman
Should rather face and overcome temptation; That flight was base and dastardly, and no man
Should ever give her heart the least sensation; That is to say a thought, beyond the common
Preference that we must feel upon occasion For people who are pleasanter than others, But then they only seem so many brothers.
And even if by chance-and who can tell?
The devil's so very sly-she should discover
That all within was not so very well,
And if, still free, that such or such a lover
Might please perhaps, a virtuous wife can quell
Such thoughts, and be the better when they're over
And, if the man should ask, 't is but denial:
I recommend young ladies to make trial.
And then there are such things as love divine, Bright and immaculate, unmix'd and pure, Such as the angels think so very fine,
And matrons, who would be no less secure, Platonic, perfect, "just such love as mine;"
Thus Julia said-and thought so, to be sure, And so I'd have her think, were I the man On whom her reveries celestial ran.
Such love is innocent, and may exist
Between young persons without any danger; A hand may first, and then a lip be kiss'd;
For my part, to such doings I'm a stranger, But hear these freedoms for the utmost list
Of all o'er which such love may be a ranger:
If people go beyond, 't is quite a crime,
But not my fault-I tell them all in time.
Love, then, but love within its proper limits,
Was Julia's innocent determination
In young Don Juan's favour, and to him its
Exertion might be useful on occasion;
And, lighted at too pure a shrine to dim its
Etherial lustre, with what sweet persuasion He might be taught, by love and her togetherI really don't know what, nor Julia either.
Fraught with this fine intention, and well fenced
In mail of proof-her purity of soul,
She, for the future, of her strength convinced,
And that her honour was a rock, or mole,
Exceeding sagely from that hour dispensed
kind of troublesome control.
But whether Julia to the task was equal
Is that which must be mention'd in the sequel.
Her plan she deem'd both innocent and feasible,
And, surely, with a stripling of sixteen
Not scandal's fangs could fix on much that's seizable; Or, if they did so, satisfied to mean
The poet meant, no doubt, and thus appeals To the good sense and senses of mankind, The very thing which every body feels,
As all have found on trial, or may find, That no one likes to be disturb'd at meals
Or love:-I won't say more about "entwined" Or "transport," as we know all that before, But beg "security" will bolt the door.
Young Juan wander'd by the glassy brooks,
Thinking unutterable things: he threw
Himself at length within the leafy nooks
Where the wild branch of the cork forest grew:
Nothing but what was good, her breast was peaceable-There poets find materials for their books,
A quiet conscience makes one so serene!
Christians have burned each other, quite persuaded
That all the apostles would have done as they did.
And every now and then we read them through,
So that their plan and prosody are eligible,
Unless, like Wordsworth, they prove unintelligible.
And if, in the mean time, her husband died,
But Heaven forbid that such a thought should cross Her brain, though in a dream, (and then she sigh'd!) Never could she survive that common loss; But just suppose that moment should betide, I only say suppose it-inter nos
(This should be entre nous, for Julia thought
In French, but then the rhyme would go for nought). LXXXV.
I only say suppose this supposition:
Juan, being then grown up to man's estate,
Would fully suit a widow of condition;
Even seven years hence it would not be too late;
And in the interim (to pursue this vision)
The mischief, after all, could not be great,
For he would learn the rudiments of love,
I mean the seraph way of those above.
So much for Julia. Now we'll turn to Juan.
Poor little fellow! he had no idea
Of his own case, and never hit the true one;
In feelings quick as Ovid's Miss Medea,
He puzzled over what he found a new one,
But not as yet imagined it could be a
Thing quite in course, and not at all alarming,
Which, with a little patience, might grow charining.
Silent and pensive, idle, restless, slow,
His home deserted for the lonely wood, Tormented with a wound he could not know, His, like all deep grief, plunged in solitude.. I'm fond myself of solitude or so,
But then I beg it may be understood
By solitude I mean a sultan's, not
A hermit's, with a haram for a grot.
Oh love! in such a wilderness as this,
Where transport and security entwine,
Here is the empire of thy perfect bliss,
And here thou art a god indeed divine." The bard I quote from does not sing amiss,' With the exception of the second line, For that same twining "transport and security" Are twisted to a phrase of some obscurity.
He, Juan, (and not Wordsworth), so pursued His self-communion with his own high soul, Until his mighty heart, in its great mood,
Had mitigated part, though not the whole Of its disease; he did the best he could With things not very subject to control, And turn'd, without perceiving his condition, Like Coleridge, into a metaphysician.
He thought about himself, and the whole earth,
Of man the wonderful, and of the stars,
And how the deuce they ever could have birth;
And then he thought of earthquakes and of wars.
How many miles the moon might have in girth,
Of air-balloons, and of the many bars
To perfect knowledge of the boundless skies;
And then he thought of Donna Julia's eyes.
In thoughts like these true wisdom may discern
Longings sublime, and aspirations high,
Which some are born with, but the most part iearr
To plague themselves withal, they know not why:
'Twas strange that one so young should thus concern
His brain about the action of the sky;
If you think 't was philosophy that this did,
I can't help thinking puberty assisted.
He pored upon the leaves, and on the flowers,
And heard a voice in all the winds; and then
He thought of wood-nymphs and immortal bowers,
And how the goddesses came down to men:
He miss'd the pathway, he forgot the hours,
And, when he look'd upon his watch again,
He found how much old Time had been a winner-
He also found that he had lost his dinner.
Sometimes he turn'd to gaze upon his book,
Boscan, or Garcilasso;-by the wind
Even as the page is rustled while we look,
So by the poesy of his own mind
Over the mystic leaf his soul was shook,
As if 't were one whereon magicians bind Their spells, and give them to the passing gale, According to some good old woman's tale.
Thus would he while his lonely hours away
Dissatisfied, nor knowing what he wanted;
Nor glowing reverie, nor poet's lay,
Could yield his spirit that for which it panted,-
A bosom whereon he his head might lay,
And hear the heart beat with the love it granted,
With several other things, which I forget,
Or which, at least, I need not mention yet.
Those lonely walks and lengthening reveries
Could not escape the gentle Julia's eyes;
She saw that Juan was not at his ease;
But that which chiefly may and must surprise,
Is, that the Donna Inez did not tease
Her only son with question or surmise; Whether it was she did not see, or would not, Or, like all very clever people, could not.
Thus parents also are at times short-sighted;
Though watchful as the lynx, they ne'er discover,
The while the wicked world beholds, delighted,
Young Hopeful's mistress, or Miss Fanny's lover,
Till some confounded escapade has blighted
The plan of twenty years, and all is over;
And then the mother cries, the father swears,
And wonders why the devil he got heirs.
But Inez was so anxious, and so clear
Of sight, that I must think on this occasion,
She had some other motive much more near
For leaving Juan to this new temptation;
But what that motive was, I shan't say here;
Perhaps to finish Juan's education,
Perhaps to open Don Alfonso's eyes,
In case he thought his wife too great a prize.
It was upon a day, a summer's day;
Summer's indeed a very dangerous season,
And so is spring about the end of May;
The sun, no doubt, is the prevailing reason;
But whatsoc'er the cause is, one may say,
And stand convicted of more truth than treason,
That there are months which nature grows more
'Twas on a summer's day-the sixth of June: I like to be particular in dates,
Not only of the age, and year, but moon;
They are a sort of post-house, where the Fates Change horses, making history change its tune, Then spur away o'er empires and o'er states, Leaving at last not much besides chronology, Excepting the post-obits of theology.
'Twas on the sixth of June, about the hour
Of half-past six-perhaps still nearer seven,
When Julia sate within as pretty a bower
As ere held houri in that heathenish heaven
Described by Mahomet, and Anacreon Moore,
To whom the tyre and laurels have been given,
With all the trophies of triumphant song-
He won then well, and may he wear them long.
She sate, but not alone; I know not well
How this same interview had taken place,
And even if I knew, I should not tell-
People should hold their tongues in any case;
No matter how or why the thing befell,
But there were she and Juan face to face-
When two such faces are so, 't would be wise,
But very difficult, to shut their eyes.
How beautiful she look'd! her conscious heart
Glow'd in her cheek, and yet she felt no wrong:
Oh love! how perfect is thy mystic art,
Strengthening the weak and trampling on the strong,
How self-deceitful is the sagest part
Of mortals whom thy lure hath led along:
The precipice she stood on was immense-
So was her creed in her own innocence.
She thought of her own strength, and Juan's youth,
And of the folly of all prudish fears,
Victorious virtue, and domestic truth,
And then of Don Alfonso's fifty years:
I wish these last had not occurr'd, in sooth,
Because that number rarely much endears,
And through all climes, the snowy and the sunny,
Sounds ill in love, whate'er it may in money.
When people say, "I've told you fifty times,"
They mean to scold, and very often do;
When poets say "I've written fifty rhymes,"
They make you dread that they 'll recite them toe;
In gangs of fifty, thieves commit their crimes;
At fifty, love for love is rare, 't is true;
But then, no doubt, it equally as true is,
A good deal may be bought for fifty Louis.
Julia had honour, virtue, truth, and love
For Don Alfonso; and she inly swore,
By all the vows below to powers above,
She never would disgrace the ring she wore,
Nor leave a wish which wisdom might reprove:
And while she ponder'd this, besides much more,
One hand on Juan's carelessly was thrown,
March nas its hares, and May must have its heroine. Quite by mistake-she thought it was her own;
Unconsciously she lean'd upon the other,
Which play'd within the tangles of her hair;
And to contend with thoughts she could not smother,
She seem'd, by the distraction of her air.
'Twas surely very wrong in Juan's mother
To leave together this imprudent pair,
She who for many years had watch'd her son so-
I'm very certain mine would not have done so.
The hand which still held Juan's, by degrees
Gently, but palpably, confirm'd its grasp,
As if it saia" detain me, if you please;"
Yet there's no doubt she only meant to clasp
His fingers with a pure Platonic squeeze:
She would have shrunk as from a toad or asp,
Had she imagined such a thing could rouse
A feeling dangerous to a prudent spouse.
I cannot know what Juan thought of this,
But what he did is much what you would do;
His young lip thank'd it with a grateful kiss,
And then, abash'd at his own joy, withdrew
In deep despair, lest he had done amiss,
Love is so very timid when 't is new:
She blush'd and frown'd not, but she strove to speak,
And held her tongue, her voice was grown so weak.
The sun set, and up rose the yellow moon:'
The devil's in the moon for mischief; they
Who call'd her CHASTE, methinks, began too soon
Their nomenclature: there is not a day,
The longest, not the twenty-first of June,
Sees half the business in a wicked way
On which three single hours of moonshine smile-
And then she looks so modest all the while.
There is a dangerous silence in that hour,
A stillness which leaves room for the full soul
To open all itself, without the power
Of calling wholly back its self-control;
The silver light which, hallowing tree and tower,
Sheds beauty and deep softness o'er the whole,
Breathes also to the heart, and o'er it throws
A loving languor, which is not repose.
And Julia sate with Juan, half embraced,
And half retiring from the glowing arm,
Which trembled like the bosom where 't was placed:
Yet still she must have thought there was no harm,
Or else 't were easy to withdraw her waist;
But then the situation had its charm,
And Julia's voice was lost, except in sighs,
Until too late for useful conversation;
The tears were gushing from her gentle eyes,
I wish, indeed, they had not had occasion;
But who, alas! can love, and then be wise?
Not that remorse did not oppose temptation,
A little still she strove, and much repented,
And whispering "I will ne'er consent"-consented.
'Tis said that Xerxes offer'd a reward
To those who could invent him a new pleasure;
Methinks the requisition's rather hard,
And must have cost his majesty a treasure:
For my part, I'm a moderate-minded bard,
Fond of a little love (which I call leisure);
care not for new pleasures, as the old
Are quite enough for me, so they but hold.
Oh Pleasure! you're indeed a pleasant thing,
Although one must be damn'd for you, no doubt;
I make a resolution every spring
Of reformation ere the year run out,
But, somehow, this my vestal vow takes wing,
Yet still, I trust, it may be kept throughout:
I'm very sorry, very much ashamed,
And mean, next winter, to be quite reclaim'd.
Here my chaste muse a liberty must take
Start not! still chaster reader,-she'll be nice henceForward, and there is no great cause to quake: This liberty is a poetic license
Which some irregularity may make
In the design, and as I have a high sense
Of Aristotle and the Rules, 't is fit
To beg his pardon when I err a bit.
This license is to hope the reader will
Suppose from June the sixth (the fatal day, Without whose epoch my poetic skill,
For want of facts, would all be thrown away).
But keeping Julia and Don Juan still
In sight, that several months have pass'd; we'll s
'Twas in November, but I'm not so sure
About the day-the era's more obscure.
We'll talk of that anon.-'Tis sweet to hear,
At midnight on the blue and moonlit deep,
The song and oar of Adria's gondolier,
By distance mellow'd, o'er the waters sweep;
'Tis sweet to see the evening star appear;
"Tis sweet to listen as the night-winds creep
And then-God knows what next-I can't go on; From leaf to leaf; 't is sweet to view on high I'm almost sorry that I e'er begun.
Oh, Plato! Plato! you have paved the way,
With your confounded fantasies, to more
Immoral conduct by the fancied sway
Your system feigns o'er the controlless core
Of human hearts, than all the long array
Of poets and romancers:-You're a bore,
A charlatan, a coxcomb-and have been,
At best, no better than a go-between.
The rainbow, based on ocean, span the sky;
'Tis sweet to hear the watch-dog's honest bark Bay deep-mouth'd welcome as we draw near home 'Tis sweet to know there is an eye will mark
Our coming, and look brighter when we come, 'Tis sweet to be awaken'd by the lark,
Or lull'd by falling waters; sweet the hum Of bees, the voice of girls, the song of birds, The lisp of children, and their earliest words
"I is sweet to win, no matter how, one's laurels
By blood or ink; 't is sweet to put an end
To strife; 'tis sometimes sweet to have our quarrels,
Particularly with a tiresome friend;
Sweet is old wine in bottles, ale in barrels ;
Dear is the helpless creature we defend
Against the world; and dear the school-boy spot
We ne'er forget, though there we are forgot.
But sweeter still than this, than these, than all,
Is first and passionate love-it stands alone,
Like Adam's recollection of his fall;
The tree of knowledge has been pluck'd-all's knownAnd life yields nothing further to recall
Worthy of this ambrosial sin so shown, No doubt in fable, as the unforgiven
Fire which Prometheus filch'd for us from heaven.
Man's a strange animal, and makes strange use
Of his own nature and the various arts,
And likes particularly to produce
Some new experiment to show his parts:
This is the age of oddities let loose,
Where different talents find their different marts; You'd best begin with truth, and when you've lost your Labour, there's a sure market for imposture.
What opposite discoveries we have seen!
(Signs of true genius, and of empty pockets:) One makes new noses, one a guillotine,
One breaks your bones, one sets them in their sockets; But vaccination certainly has been
A kind antithesis to Congreve's rockets,
Bread has been made (indifferent) from potatoes,
And galvanism has set some corpses grinning,
But has not answer'd like the apparatus
Of the Humane Society's beginning,
By which men are unsuffocated gratis ;-
What wondrous new machines have late been spinning
This is the patent age of new inventions
For killing bodies and for saving souls,
All propagated with the best intentions:
Sir Humphry Davy's lantern, by which coals
Are safely mined for in the mode he mentions;
Timbuctoo travels, voyages to the Poles
Are ways to benefit mankind, as true,
Perhaps, as shooting them at Waterloo.
Man's a phenomenon, one knows not what,
And wonderful beyond all wondrous measure,
'Tis pity though, in this sublime world, that
Pleasure's a sin, and sometimes sin's a pleasure,
Few mortals know what end they would be at,
But whether glory, power, or love, or treasure,
The path is through perplexing ways, and when
The goal is gain'd, we die, you know—and ther·
What then?-I do not know, no more do you-
And so good night.-Return we to our story:
'Twas in November, when fine days are few,
And the far mountains wax a little hoary,
And clap a white cape on their mantles blue;
And the sea dashes round the promontory,
And the loud breaker boils against the rock,
And sober suns must set at five o'clock.
'Twas, as the watchmen say, a cloudy night;
No moon, no stars, the wind was low or loud
By gusts, and many a sparkling hearth was bright
With the piled wood, round which the family crowd
There's something cheerful in that sort of light,
Even as a summer sky's without a cloud:
I'm fond of fire, and crickets, and all that,
A lobster salad, and champagne, and chat.
'Twas midnight-Donna Julia was in bed,
Sleeping, most probably,-when at her door
Arose a clatter might awake the dead,
If they had never been awoke before-
And that they have been so we all have read,
And are to be so, at the least, once more-
The door was fasten'd, but, with voice and fist,
First knocks were heard, then "Madam-Madam-hist!
"For God's sake, Madam-Madam-here's my master With more than half the city at his backWas ever heard of such a cursed disaster? 'Tis not my fault-I kept good watch-Alack' Do, pray, undo the bolt a little faster
They're on the stair just now, and in a crack Will all be here; perhaps he yet may flySurely the window's not so very high!"