Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

CXXXVIII.

By this time Don Alfonso was arrived,

With torches, friends, and servants in great number; The major part of them had long been wived,

And therefore paused not to disturb the slumber
Of any wicked woman, who contrived

By stealth her husband's temples to encumber:
Examples of this kind are so contagious,
Were one not punish'd, all would be outrageous.
CXXXIX.

I can't tell how, or why, or what suspicion
Could enter into Don Alfonso's head,
But for a cavalier of his condition

It surely was exceedingly ill-bred,
Without a word of previous admonition,

To hold a levee round his lady's bed,
And summon lackeys, arm'd with fire and sword,
To prove himself the thing he most abhorr'd.
CXL.

Poor Donna Julia! starting as from sleep

(Mind-that I do not say-she had not slept),
Began at once to scream, and yawn, and weep;
Her maid Antonia, who was an adept,
Contrived to fling the bed-clothes in a heap,

As if she had just now from out them crept:
I can't tell why she should take all this trouble
To prove her mistress had been sleeping double.
CXLI.

But Julia mistress, and Antonia maid,

Appear'd like two poor harmless women, who Of goblins, but still more of men, afraid,

Had thought one man might be deterr'd by two, And therefore side by side were gently laid,

Until the hours of absence should run through, And truant husband should return, and say,

66

My dear, I was the first who came away."

CXLII.

Now Julia found at length a voice, and cried,
"In Heaven's name, Don Alfonso, what d' ye
mean?
Has madness seized you? would that I had died
Ere such a monster's victim I had been!
What may this midnight violence betide,

A sudden fit of drunkenness or spleen?
Dare you suspect me, whom the thought would kill?
Search, then, the room!"-Alfonso said, "I will."
CXLIII.

He search'd, they search'd, and rummaged every where,
Closet and clothes'-press, chest and window-seat,
And found much linen, lace, and several pair

Of stockings, slippers, brushes, combs, complete,
With other articles of ladies fair,

To keep them beautiful, or leave them neat: Arras they prick'd and curtains with their swords, And wounded several shutters, and some boards.

CXLIV.

CXLV.

During this inquisition Julia's tongue

Was not asleep "Yes, search and search," she cried, "Insult on insult heap, and wrong on wrong!

It was for this that I became a bride!
For this in silence I have suffer'd long
A husband like Alfonso at my side;
But now I'll bear no more, nor here remain,
If there be law, or lawyers, in all Spain.

CXLVI.

"Yes, Don Alfonso, husband now no more,
If ever you indeed deserved the name,
Is't worthy of your years?-you have threescore,
Fifty, or sixty-it is all the same-

Is 't wise or fitting causeless to explore

For facts against a virtuous woman's fame? Ungrateful, perjured, barbarous Don Alfonso! How dare you think your lady would go on so? CXLVII.

"Is it for this I have disdain'd to hold

The common privileges of my sex?
That I have chosen a confessor so old
And deaf, that any other it would vex,
And never once he has had cause to scold,
But found my very innocence perplex

So much, he always doubted I was married-
How sorry you will be when I've miscarried!

CXLVIII.

"Was it for this that no Cortejo ere

I yet have chosen from out the youth of Seville ? Is it for this I scarce went any where,

Except to bull-fights, mass, play, rout, and revel?
Is it for this, whate'er my suitors were,

I favour'd none-nay, was almost uncivil?
Is it for this that General Count O'Reilly,
Who took Algiers, declares I used him vilely ?
CXLIX.

"Did not the Italian Musico Cazzani

Sing at my heart six months at least in vain?
Did not his countryman, Count Corniani,

Call me the only virtuous wife in Spain?
Were there not also Russians, English, many?
The Count Strongstroganoff I put in pain,
And Lord Mount Coffeehouse, the Irish peer,
Who kill'd himself for love (with wine) last year.
CL.

"Have I not had two bishops at my feet,
The Duke of Ichar, and Don Fernan Nunez ?
And is it thus a faithful wife you treat?
I wonder in what quarter now the moon is.

I praise your vast forbearance not to beat
Me also, since the time so opportune is-
Oh, valiant man! with sword drawn and cock'd trigger,
Now, tell me, don't you cut a pretty figure?
CLI.

Under the bed they search'd, and there they found-"Was it for this you took your sudden journey,
No matter what-it was not that they sought,
They open'd windows, gazing if the ground

Had signs or foot-marks, but the earth said nought:
And then they stared each other's faces round:

"T is odd, not one of all these seekers thought, And seems to me almost a sort of blunder, Of looking in the bed as well as under.

Under pretence of business indispensable,
With that sublime of rascals your attorney,
Whom I see standing there, and looking sensible
Of having play'd the fool? though both I spurn, he
Deserves the worst, his conduct 's less defensible,
Because, no doubt, 't was for his dirty fee,
And not for any love to you or me.

CLII.

"If he comes here to take a deposition,

By all means let the gentleman proceed; You've made the apartment in a fit condition: There's pen and ink for you, sir, when you needLet every thing be noted with precision,

I would not you for nothing should be fee'dBut, as my maid's undress'd, pray turn your spies out." "Oh!" sobb'd Antonia, "I could tear their eyes out." CLIII.

"There is the closet, there the toilet, there

The ante-chamber-search them under, over: There is the sofa, there the great arm-chair, The chimney-which would really hold a lover. I wish to sleep, and beg you will take care

And make no further noise till you discover The secret cavern of this lurking treasureAnd, when't is found, let me, too, have that pleasure. CLIV.

"And now, Hidalgo! now that you have thrown Doubt upon me, confusion over all,

Pray have the courtesy to make it known

Who is the man you search for? how d' ye call Him? what's his lineage? let him but be shownI hope he's young and handsome-is he tall? Tell me and be assured, that since you stain My honour thus, it shall not be in vain.

CLV.

"At least, perhaps, he has not sixty yearsAt that age he would be too old for slaughter, Or for so young a husband's jealous fears

(Antonia! let me have a glass of water). I am ashamed of having shed these tears, They are unworthy of my father's daughter; My mother dream'd not in my natal hour That I should fall into a monster's power. CLVI.

"Perhaps 't is of Antonia you are jealous,

You saw that she was sleeping by my side
When you broke in upon us with your fellows:
Look where you please-we 've nothing, sir, to hide;
Only another time, I trust, you'll tell us,

Or for the sake of decency abide
A moment at the door, that we may be
Dress'd to receive so much good company.

CLVII.

"And now, sir, I have done, and say no more;
The little I have said may serve to show
The guileless heart in silence may grieve o'er
The wrongs to whose exposure it is slow:-

I leave you to your conscience as before,

"I will one day ask you why you used me so? God grant you feel not then the bitterest grief!Antonia! where's my pocket-handkerchief?"

CLVIII.

She ceased, and turn'd upon her pillow; pale
She lay, her dark eyes flashing through their tears,
Like skies that rain and lighten; as a veil

Waved and o'ershading her wan cheek, appears
Her streaming hair; the black curls strive, but fail,
To hide the glossy shoulder which uprears
Its snow through all;-her soft lips lie apart,
And louder than her breathing beats her heart.

CLIX.

The Senhor Don Alfonso stood confused;
Antonia bustled round the ransack'd room,
And, turning up her nose, with looks abused
Her master, and his myrmidons, of whom
Not one, except the attorney, was amused;
He, like Achates, faithful to the tomb,
So there were quarrels, cared not for the cause,
Knowing they must be settled by the laws.
CLX.

With prying snub-nose, and small eyes, he stood
Following Antonia's motions here and there,
With much suspicion in his attitude;

For reputation he had little care:
So that a suit or action were made good,

Small pity had he for the young and fair,
And ne'er believed in negatives, till these
Were proved by competent false witnesses.
CLXI.

But Don Alfonso stood with downcast looks,
And, truth to say, he made a foolish figure;
When, after searching in five hundred nooks,

And treating a young wife with so much rigour,
He gain'd no point, except some self rebukes,
Added to those his lady with such vigour
Had pour'd upon him for the last half hour,
Quick, thick, and heavy-as a thunder-shower.
CLXII.

At first he tried to hammer an excuse,

To which the sole reply were tears and sobs, And indications of hysterics, whose

Prologue is always certain throes and throbs,
Gasps, and whatever else the owners choose:-
Alfonso saw his wife, and thought of Job's;
He saw, too, in perspective, her relations,
And then he tried to muster all his patience.
CLXIII.

He stood in act to speak, or rather stammer,
But sage Antonia cut him short before
The anvil of his speech received the hammer,

With "Pray, sir, leave the room, and say no mort,
Or madam dies."-Alfonso mutter'd "D-n her."
But nothing else, the time of words was o'er;
He cast a rueful look or two, and did,
He knew not wherefore, that which he was bid.
CLXIV.

With him retired his "posse comitatus,"

The attorney last, who linger'd near the door,
Reluctantly, still tarrying there as late as

Antonia let him-not a little sore
At this most strange and unexplain’d “hiatus”
In Don Alfonso's facts, which just now wore
An awkward look; as he revolved the case,
The door was fasten'd in his legal face.

CLXV.

No sooner was it bolted, than-Oh shame!
Oh sin! oh sorrow! and oh womankind!
How can you do such things and keep your fame,
Unless this world, and t' other too, be blind?
Nothing so dear as an unfilch'd good name!

But to proceed-for there is more behind: With much heart-felt reluctance be it said, Young Juan slipp'd, half-smother'd, from the bed

CLXVI.

He had been hid-I don't pretend to say How, nor can I indeed describe the whereYoung, slender, and pack'd easily, he lay,

No doubt, in little compass, round or square; But pity him I neither must nor may

His suffocation by that pretty pair;

'T were better, sure, to die so, than be shut, With maudlin Clarence, in his Malmsev butt. CLXVII.

And, secondly, I pity not, because

He had no business to commit a sin,
Forbid by heavenly, fined by human laws,—
At least 't was rather early to begin;
But at sixteen the conscience rarely gnaws

So much as when we call our old debts in At sixty years, and draw the accounts of evil, And find a deuced balance with the devil.

CLXVIII.

Of his position I can give no notion:
"Tis written in the Hebrew Chronicle,
How the physicians, leaving pill and potion,

Prescribed, by way of blister, a young belle,
When old King David's blood grew dull in motion,
And that the medicine answer'd very well;
Perhaps 't was in a different way applied,
For David lived, but Juan nearly died.

CLXIX.

What's to be done? Alfonso will be back
The moment he has sent his fools away.
Antonia's skill was put upon the rack,

But no device could be brought into play-
And how to parry the renew'd attack?

Besides, it wanted but few hours of day:
Antonia puzzled; Julia did not speak,
But press'd her bloodless lip to Juan's cheek.
CLXX.

He turn'd his lip to hers, and with his hand

Call'd back the tangles of her wandering hair; Even then their love they could not all command, And half forgot their danger and despair: Antonia's patience now was at a stand

"Come, come, 'tis no time now for fooling there," She whisper'd in great wrath-"I must deposit This pretty gentleman within the closet:

CLXXI.

CLXXIII.

Now, Don Alfonso entering, but alone, Closed the oration of the trusty maid: She loiter'd, and he told her to be gone, An order somewhat sullenly obey'd; However, present remedy was none,

And no great good seem'd answer'd if she stay'd Regarding both with slow and sidelong view, She snuff'd the candle, curtsied, and withdrew. CLXXIV.

Alfonso paused a minute-then begun

Some strange excuses for his late proceeding; He would not justify what he had done,

To say the best, it was extreme ill-breeding:
But there were ample reasons for it, none

Of which he specified in this his pleading:
His speech was a fine sample, on the whole,
Of rhetoric, which the learn'd call "rigmarole."
CLXXV.

Julia said nought; though all the while there rose
A ready answer, which at once enables
A matron, who her husband's foible knows,

By a few timely words to turn the tables,
Which, if it does not silence, still must pose,

Even if it should comprise a pack of fables; 'Tis to retort with firmness, and when he Suspects with one, do you reproach with three. CLXXVI.

Julia, in fact, had tolerable grounds,

Alfonso's loves with Inez were well known; But whether 't was that one's own guilt confoundsBut that can't be, as has been often shown; A lady with apologies abounds:

It might be that her silence sprang alone From delicacy to Don Juan's ear,

To whom she knew his mother's fame was dear.

CLXXVII.

There might be one more motive, which makes two :
Alfonso ne'er to Juan had alluded,
Mention'd his jealousy, but never who

Had been the happy lover, he concluded,
Conceald amongst his premises; 't is true,

[ocr errors]

His mind the more o'er this its mystery brooded; To speak of Inez now were, one may say, Like throwing Juan in Alfonso's way. CLXXVIII.

hint, in tender cases, is enough; Silence is best, besides there is a tact (That modern phrase appears to me sad stuff,

"Pray keep your nonsense for some luckier night-A
Who can have put my master in this mood?
What will become on 't?-I'm in such a fright!
The devil's in the urchin, and no good-
Is this a time for giggling? this a plight?

Why, don't you know that it may end in blood?
You'll lose your life, and I shall lose my place,
My mistress all, for that half-girlish face.

CLXXII.

"Had it but been for a stout cavalier

Of twenty-five or thirty-(come, make haste) But for a child, what piece of work is here! I really, madam, wonder at your taste(Come, sir, get in)-my master must be near. There, for the present at the least he's fast, And, if we can but till the morning keep Our counsel (Juan, mind you must not sleep)."

But it will serve to keep iny verse compact) Which keeps, when push'd by questions rather rough A lady always distant from the factThe charming creatures lie with such a grace, There's nothing so becoming to the face.

CLXXIX.

They blush, and we believe them; at least 1
Have always done so; 'tis of no great use,
In any case, attempting a reply,

For then their eloquence grows quite profuse, And when at length they 're out of breath, they sigh, And cast the languid eyes down, and let loose

A tear or two, and then we make it up;
And then-and then-and then-sit down and suo

CLXXX.

Alfonso closed his speech, and begg'd her pardon,
Which Julia half withheld, and then half granted,
And laid conditions, he thought, very hard on,
Denying several little things he wanted:
He stood, like Adam, lingering near his garden,
With useless penitence perplex'd and haunted,
Beseeching she no further would refuse,
When lo! he stumbled o'er a pair of shoes.

CLXXXI.

A pair of shoes!-what then? not much, if they
Are such as fit with lady's feet, but these
(No one can tell how much I grieve to say)
Were masculine: to see them and to seize
Was but a moment's act.-Ah! well-a-day!

My teeth begin to chatter, my veins freeze-
Alfonso first examined well their fashion,
And then flew out into another passion.
CLXXXII.

He left the room for his relinquish'd sword,
And Julia instant to the closet flew ;

66 Fly, Juan, fly! for Heaven's sake-not a word-
The door is open-you may yet slip through
'The passage you so often have explored-

Here is the garden-key-fly-fly-adieu!
Hase-haste!-I hear Alfonso's hurrying feet-
Day has not broke-there's no one in the street."
CLXXXIII.

None can say that this was not good advice,
The only mischief was, it came too late;
Of all experience 't is the usual price,

A sort of income-tax laid on by fate:
Juan had reach'd the room-door in a trice,
And might have done so by the garden-gate,
But met Alfonso in his dressing-gown,

Who threaten'd death-so Juan knock'd him down.
CLXXXIV.

Dire was the scuffle, and out went the light,

Antonia cried out "Rape!" and Julia "Fire!" But not a servant stirr'd to aid the fight.

Alfonso, pommell'd to his heart's desire, Swore lustily he'd be revenged this night;

And Juan, too, blasphemed an octave higher; His blood was up; though young, he was a Tartar, And not at all disposed to prove a martyr.

CLXXXV.

Alfonso's sword had dropp'd ere he could draw it,
And they continued battling hand to hand,
For Juan very luckily ne'er saw it;

His temper not being under great command, If at that moment he had chanced to claw it, Alfonso's days had not been in the land Much longer. Think of husbands', lovers' lives And how you may be doubly widows—wives! CLXXXVI.

Alfonso grappled to detain the foe,

And Juan throttled him to get away,
And blood ('twas from the nose) began to flow;.
At last, as they more faintly wrestling lay,
Juan contrived to give an awkward blow,

And then his only garment quite gave way;
Re fled, like Joseph, leaving it--but there,
I doubt, all likeness ends between the pair.

CLXXXVII.

Lights came at length, and men and maids, who found
An awkward spectacle their eyes before;
Antonia in hysterics, Julia swoon'd,

Alfonso leaning, breathless, by the door;
Some half-torn drapery scatter'd on the ground,
Some blood, and several footsteps, but no more:
Juan the gate gain'd, turn'd the key about,
And, liking not the inside, lock'd the out.
CLXXXVIII.

Here ends this Canto.-Need I sing or say,
How Juan, naked, favour'd by the night
(Who favours what she should not), found his way,
And reach'd his home in an unseemly plight?
The pleasant scandal which arose next day,

The nine days' wonder which was brought to light,
And how Alfonso sued for a divorce,
Were in the English newspapers, of course.

CLXXXIX.

If you would like to see the whole proceedings,
The depositions, and the cause at full,
The names of all the witnesses, the pleadings
Of counsel to nonsuit or to annul,

There's more than one edition, and the readings
Are various, but they none of them are dull,
The best is that in short-hand, ta'en by Gurney,
Who to Madrid on purpose made a journey.
CXC.

But Donna Inez, to divert the train

Of one of the most circulating scandals That had for centuries been known in Spain,

At least since the retirement of the Vandals, First vow'd (and never had she vow'd in vain)

To Virgin Mary several pounds of candies;
And then, by the advice of some old ladies,
She sent her son to be shipp'd off from Cadiz.
CXCI.

She had resolved that he should travel through
All European climes by land or sea,
To mend his former morals, and get new,

Especially in France and Italy,

(At least this is the thing most people do).
Julia was sent into a convent; she
Grieved, but perhaps, her feelings may be better
Shown in the following copy of her letter:
CXCII.

"They tell me 't is decided, you depart :

'Tis wise-'t is well, but not the less a pain:
I have no further claim on your young heart,
Mine is the victim, and would be again:
To love too much has been the only art

I used ;-I write in haste, and if a stain
Be on this sheet, 't is not what it appears-
My eyeballs burn and throb, but have no tears.
CXCIII.

"I loved, I love you; for this love have lost State, station, heaven, mankind's, my own esteem, And yet cannot regret what it hath cost,

So dear is still the memory of that dream; Yet, if I name my guilt, 't is not to boast,

None can deem harshlier of me than I deemn.

I trace this scrawl because I cannot rest-
I've nothing to reproach or to request.

CXCIV.

"Man's love is of man's life a thing apart,

"Tis woman's whole existence; man may range
The court, camp, church, the vessel, and the mart;
Sword, gown, gain, glory, offer in exchange
Pride, fame, ambition, to fill up his heart,

And few there are whom these cannot estrange:
Men have all these resources, we but one-
To love again, and be again undone.

CXCV.

"You will proceed in pleasure and in pride,

Beloved and loving many; all is o'er
For me on earth, except some years to hide
My shame and sorrow deep in my heart's core:
These I could bear, but cannot cast aside

The passion, which still rages as before,
And so farewell-forgive me, love me-No,
That word is idle now-but let it go.

CXCVI.

"My breast has been all weakness, is so yet;
But still, I think, I can collect my mind;
My blood still rushes where my spirit's set,
As roll the waves before the settled wind;
My heart is feminine, nor can forget-

To all, except one image, madly blind:
So shakes the needle, and so stands the pole,
As vibrates my fond heart to my fix'd soul.
CXCVII.

"I have no more to say, but linger still,
And dare not set my seal upon this sheet,
And yet I may as well the task fulfil,

My misery can scarce be more complete:
I had not lived till now, could sorrow kill;
Death shuns the wretch who fain the blow would meet.
And I must even survive this last adieu,
And bear with life, to love and pray for you!"
CXCVIII.

This note was written upon gilt-edged paper,

With a neat little crow-quill, slight and new: Her small white hand could hardly reach the taper, It trembled as magnetic needles do,

And yet she did not let one tear escape her;

The seal a sun-flower; "Elle vous suit partout,"
The motto cut upon a white cornelian,
The wax was superfine, its hue vermilion.

CXCIX.

This was Don Juan's earliest scrape; but whether
I shall proceed with his adventure is
Dependent on the public altogether:

We'll see, however, what they say to this
(Their favour in an author's cap's a feather,

And no great mischief's done by their caprice);

And, if their approbation we experience,

CCI.

All these things will be specified in time,
With strict regard to Aristotle's Rules,
The vade mecum of the true sublime,

Which makes so many poets and some fools;
Prose poets like blank-verse-I'm fond of rhyme-
Good workmen never quarrel with their tools;
I've got new mythological machinery,
And very handsome supernatural scenery.
CCII.

There's only one slight difference between
Me and my epic brethren gone before,
And here the advantage is my own, I ween,
(Not that I have not several merits more);
But this will more peculiarly be seen;

They so embellish, that 't is quite a bore
Their labyrinth of fables to thread through,
Whereas this story's actually true.

CCIII.

If any person doubt it, I appeal

To history, tradition, and to facts,
To newspapers, whose truth all know and feel,
To plays in five, and operas in three acts;
All these confirm my statement a good deal,

But that which more completely faith exacts
Is, that myself, and several now in Seville,
Saw Juan's last elopement with the devil.

CCIV.

If ever I should condescend to prose,
I'll write poetical commandments, which
Shall supersede beyond all doubt all those
That went before; in these I shall enrich
My text with many things that no one knows,
And carry precept to the highest pitch:
I'll call the work "Longinus o'er a Bottle,
Or, Every Poet his own Aristotle."

CCV.

Thou shalt believe in Milton, Dryden, Pope:
Thou shalt not set up Wordsworth, Coleridge, Southey,
Because the first is crazed beyond all hope,
The second drunk, the third so quaint and mouthey
With Crabbe it may be difficult to cope,

And Campbell's Hippocrene is somewhat drouthy:
Thou shalt not steal from Samuel Rogers, nor
Commit-flirtation with the muse of Moore:

CCVI.

Thou shalt not covet Mr. Sotheby's Muse,
His Pegasus, nor any thing that's his :
Thou shalt not bear false witness, like "the Blues,"
(There's one, at least, is very fond of this):
Thou shalt not write, in short, but what I choose:
This is true criticism, and you may kiss-
Exactly as you please, or not-the rod,

Perhaps they'll have some more about a year hence. But if you don't, I'll lay it on, by G-d!

CC.

My poem's epic, and is meant to be

Divided in twelve books; each book containing, With love, and war, a heavy gale at sea,

A list of ships, and captains, and kings reigning, New characters; the episodes are three:

A panorama view of hell's in training, After the style of Virgil and of Homer, So that my name of Epic's no misnomer.

CCVII.

If any person should presume to assert

The story is not moral, first, I pray
That they will not cry out before they're hurt,
Then that they'll read it o'er again, and say
(But, doubtless, nobody will be so pert)

That this is not a moral tale, though gay;
Besides, in canto twelfth, I mean to show
The very place where wicked people go.

« AnteriorContinuar »