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Canto the Ninth

I.[476]

Oh, Wellington! (or "Villainton"[477]--for Fame[it]
Sounds the heroic syllables both ways;
France could not even conquer your great name,
But punned it down to this facetious phrase--
Beating or beaten she will laugh the same,)
You have obtained great pensions and much praise:
Glory like yours should any dare gainsay,
Humanity would rise, and thunder "Nay!"[478]

II.

I don't think that you used Kinnaird quite well
In Marinèt's affair[479]--in fact, 't was shabby,
And like some other things won't do to tell
Upon your tomb in Westminster's old Abbey.
Upon the rest 't is not worth while to dwell,
Such tales being for the tea-hours of some tabby;[480]
But though your years as _man_ tend fast to zero,
In fact your Grace is still but a _young Hero_.

III.

Though Britain owes (and pays you too) so much,
Yet Europe doubtless owes you greatly more:
You have repaired Legitimacy's crutch,
A prop not quite so certain as before:
The Spanish, and the French, as well as Dutch,
Have seen, and felt, how strongly you _restore_;
And Waterloo has made the world your debtor
(I wish your bards would sing it rather better).

IV.

You are "the best of cut-throats:"[481]--do not start;
The phrase is Shakespeare's, and not misapplied:--
War's a brain-spattering, windpipe-slitting art,
Unless her cause by right be sanctified.
If you have acted _once_ a generous part,
The World, not the World's masters, will decide,
And I shall be delighted to learn who,
Save you and yours, have gained by Waterloo?

V.

I am no flatterer--you've supped full of flattery:[482]
They say you like it too--'t is no great wonder.
He whose whole life has been assault and battery,
At last may get a little tired of thunder;
And swallowing eulogy much more than satire, he
May like being praised for every lucky blunder,
Called "Saviour of the Nations"--not yet saved,--
And "Europe's Liberator"--still enslaved.[483]

VI.

I've done. Now go and dine from off the plate
Presented by the Prince of the Brazils,
And send the sentinel before your gate
A slice or two from your luxurious meals:[484]
He fought, but has not fed so well of late.
Some hunger, too, they say the people feels:--
There is no doubt that you deserve your ration,
But pray give back a little to the nation.

VII.

I don't mean to reflect--a man so great as
You, my lord Duke! is far above reflection:
The high Roman fashion, too, of Cincinnatus,
With modern history has but small connection:
Though as an Irishman you love potatoes,
You need not take them under your direction;
And half a million for your Sabine farm
Is rather dear!--I'm sure I mean no harm.

VIII.

Great men have always scorned great recompenses:
Epaminondas saved his Thebes, and died,
Not leaving even his funeral expenses:[485]
George Washington had thanks, and nought beside,
Except the all-cloudless glory (which few men's is)
To free his country: Pitt too had his pride,
And as a high-souled Minister of state is
Renowned for ruining Great Britain gratis.[486]

IX.

Never had mortal man such opportunity,
Except Napoleon, or abused it more:
You might have freed fallen Europe from the unity
Of Tyrants, and been blest from shore to shore:
And _now_--what is your fame? Shall the Muse tune it ye?
_Now_--that the rabble's first vain shouts are o'er?
Go! hear it in your famished country's cries!
Behold the World! and curse your victories!

X.

As these new cantos touch on warlike feats,
To _you_ the unflattering Muse deigns to inscribe[iu]
Truths, that you will not read in the Gazettes,
But which 't is time to teach the hireling tribe
Who fatten on their country's gore, and debts,
Must be recited--and without a bribe.
You _did great_ things, but not being _great_ in mind,
Have left _undone_ the _greatest_--and mankind.

XI.

Death laughs--Go ponder o'er the skeleton
With which men image out the unknown thing
That hides the past world, like to a set sun
Which still elsewhere may rouse a brighter spring--
Death laughs at all you weep for!--look upon
This hourly dread of all! whose _threatened sting_
Turns Life to terror, even though in its sheath:
Mark! how its lipless mouth grins without breath!

XII.

Mark! how it laughs and scorns at all you are!
And yet _was_ what you are; from _ear_ to _ear_
It _laughs not_--there is now no fleshy bar
So called; the Antic long hath ceased to _hear_,
But still he _smiles_; and whether near or far,
He strips from man that mantle (far more dear
Than even the tailor's), his incarnate skin,[iv]
White, black, or copper--the dead bones will grin.

XIII.

And thus Death laughs,--it is sad merriment,
But still it _is_ so; and with such example
Why should not Life be equally content
With his Superior, in a smile to trample
Upon the nothings which are daily spent
Like bubbles on an Ocean much less ample
Than the Eternal Deluge, which devours
Suns as rays--worlds like atoms--years like hours?

XIV.

"To be, or not to be? _that_ is the question,"
Says Shakespeare,[487] who just now is much in fashion.
I am neither Alexander nor Hephæstion,
Nor ever had for _abstract_ fame much passion;
But would much rather have a sound digestion
Than Buonaparte's cancer:--could I dash on
Through fifty victories to shame or fame--
Without a stomach what were a good name?

XV.

_"O dura ilia messorum!"_[488]--"Oh
Ye rigid guts of reapers!" I translate[iw]
For the great benefit of those who know
What indigestion is--that inward fate
Which makes all Styx through one small liver flow.
A peasant's sweat is worth his lord's estate:
Let _this_ one toil for bread--_that_ rack for rent,
He who sleeps best may be the most content.

XVI.

"To be, or not to be?"--Ere I decide,
I should be glad to know that which _is being_.
'T is true we speculate both far and wide,
And deem, because we _see_, we are _all-seeing_:
For my part, I'll enlist on neither side,
Until I see both sides for once agreeing.
For me, I sometimes think that Life is Death,
Rather than Life a mere affair of breath.

XVII.

_"Que scais-je"_[489] was the motto of Montaigne,
As also of the first academicians:
That all is dubious which man may attain,
Was one of their most favourite positions.
There's no such thing as certainty, that's plain
As any of Mortality's conditions;
So little do we know what we're about in
This world, I doubt if doubt itself be doubting.

XVIII.

It is a pleasant voyage perhaps to float,
Like Pyrrho,[490] on a sea of speculation;
But what if carrying sail capsize the boat?
Your wise men don't know much of navigation;
And swimming long in the abyss of thought
Is apt to tire: a calm and shallow station
Well nigh the shore, where one stoops down and gathers
Some pretty shell, is best for moderate bathers.

XIX.

"But Heaven," as Cassio says, "is above all--[491]
No more of this, then, let us pray!" We have
Souls to save, since Eve's slip and Adam's fall,
Which tumbled all mankind into the grave,
Besides fish, beasts, and birds. "The sparrow's fall
Is special providence,"[492] though how _it_ gave
Offence, we know not; probably it perched
Upon the tree which Eve so fondly searched.

XX.

Oh! ye immortal Gods! what is Theogony?
Oh! thou, too, mortal man! what is Philanthropy?
Oh! World, which was and is, what is Cosmogony?
Some people have accused me of Misanthropy;
And yet I know no more than the mahogany
That forms this desk, of what they mean;--_Lykanthropy_[493]
I comprehend, for without transformation
Men become wolves on any slight occasion.

XXI.

But I, the mildest, meekest of mankind,
Like Moses, or Melancthon,[494] who have ne'er[ix]
Done anything exceedingly unkind,--
And (though I could not now and then forbear
Following the bent of body or of mind)
Have always had a tendency to spare,--
Why do they call me Misanthrope? Because
_They hate me, not I them:_--and here we'll pause.

XXII.

'T is time we should proceed with our good poem,--
For I maintain that it is really good,
Not only in the body but the proem,
However little both are understood
Just now,--but by and by the Truth will show 'em
Herself in her sublimest attitude:
And till she doth, I fain must be content
To share her beauty and her banishment.

XXIII.

Our hero (and, I trust, kind reader! yours)
Was left upon his way to the chief city
Of the immortal Peter's polished boors,
Who still have shown themselves more brave than witty.
I know its mighty Empire now allures
Much flattery--even Voltaire's,[495] and that's a pity.
For me, I deem an absolute autocrat
_Not_ a barbarian, but much worse than that.

XXIV.

And I will war, at least in words (and--should
My chance so happen--deeds), with all who war
With Thought;--and of Thought's foes by far most rude,
Tyrants and sycophants have been and are.
I know not who may conquer: if I could
Have such a prescience, it should be no bar
To this my plain, sworn, downright detestation
Of every despotism in every nation.[iy]

XXV.

It is not that I adulate the people:
Without _me_, there are demagogues enough,[496]
And infidels, to pull down every steeple,
And set up in their stead some proper stuff.
Whether they may sow scepticism to reap Hell,
As is the Christian dogma rather rough,
I do not know;--I wish men to be free
As much from mobs as kings--from you as me.

XXVI.

The consequence is, being of no party,
I shall offend all parties:--never mind!
My words, at least, are more sincere and hearty
Than if I sought to sail before the wind.
He who has nought to gain can have small art: he
Who neither wishes to be bound nor bind,
May still expatiate freely, as will I,
Nor give my voice to slavery's jackal cry.[iz]

XXVII.

_That's_ an appropriate simile, _that jackal;_--
I've heard them in the Ephesian ruins howl[497]
By night, as do that mercenary pack all,
Power's base purveyors, who for pickings prowl,
And scent the prey their masters would attack all.
However, the poor jackals are less foul
(As being the brave lions' keen providers)
Than human insects, catering for spiders.[ja]

XXVIII.

Raise but an arm! 't will brush their web away,
And without _that_, their poison and their claws
Are useless. Mind, good people! what I say--
(Or rather Peoples)--_go on_ without pause!
The web of these Tarantulas each day
Increases, till you shall make common cause:
None, save the Spanish Fly and Attic Bee,
As yet are strongly stinging to be free.[jb]

XXIX.

Don Juan, who had shone in the late slaughter,
Was left upon his way with the despatch,
Where blood was talked of as we would of water;
And carcasses that lay as thick as thatch
O'er silenced cities, merely served to flatter
Fair Catherine's pastime--who looked on the match
Between these nations as a main of cocks,
Wherein she liked her own to stand like rocks.

XXX.

And there in a _kibitka_ he rolled on,
(A cursed sort of carriage without springs,
Which on rough roads leaves scarcely a whole bone,)
Pondering on Glory, Chivalry, and Kings,
And Orders, and on all that he had done--
And wishing that post-horses had the wings
Of Pegasus, or at the least post-chaises
Had feathers, when a traveller on deep ways is.

XXXI.

At every jolt--and they were many--still
He turned his eyes upon his little charge,
As if he wished that she should fare less ill
Than he, in these sad highways left at large
To ruts, and flints, and lovely Nature's skill,
Who is no paviour, nor admits a barge
On _her_ canals, where God takes sea and land,
Fishery and farm, both into his own hand.

XXXII.

At least he pays no rent, and has best right
To be the first of what we used to call
"Gentlemen farmers"--a race worn out quite,
Since lately there have been no rents at all,
And "gentlemen" are in a piteous plight,
And "farmers" can't raise Ceres from her fall:
She fell with Buonaparte,[498]--What strange thoughts
Arise, when we see Emperors fall with oats!

XXXIII.

But Juan turned his eyes on the sweet child
Whom he had saved from slaughter--what a trophy
Oh! ye who build up monuments, defiled
With gore, like Nadir Shah,[499] that costive Sophy,
Who, after leaving Hindostan a wild,
And scarce to the Mogul a cup of coffee
To soothe his woes withal, was slain, the sinner!
Because he could no more digest his dinner;--[jc][500]

XXXIV.

Oh ye! or we! or he! or she! reflect,
That _one_ life saved, especially if young
Or pretty, is a thing to recollect
Far sweeter than the greenest laurels sprung
From the manure of human clay, though decked
With all the praises ever said or sung:
Though hymned by every harp, unless within
Your heart joins chorus, Fame is but a din.

XXXV.

Oh! ye great authors luminous, voluminous!
Ye twice ten hundred thousand daily scribes!
Whose pamphlets, volumes, newspapers, illumine us!
Whether you're paid by government in bribes,
To prove the public debt is not consuming us--
Or, roughly treading on the "courtier's kibes"
With clownish heel[501] your popular circulation
Feeds you by printing half the realm's starvation;--

XXXVI.

Oh, ye great authors!--_A propos des bottes,_--
I have forgotten what I meant to say,
As sometimes have been greater sages' lots;--
'T was something calculated to allay
All wrath in barracks, palaces, or cots:
Certes it would have been but thrown away,
And that's one comfort for my lost advice,
Although no doubt it was beyond all price.

XXXVII.

But let it go:--it will one day be found
With other relics of "a former World,"
When this World shall be _former,_ underground,
Thrown topsy-turvy, twisted, crisped, and curled,
Baked, fried, or burnt, turned inside-out, or drowned,
Like all the worlds before, which have been hurled
First out of, and then back again to chaos--
The superstratum which will overlay us.[jd]

XXXVIII.

So Cuvier says:[502]--and then shall come again
Unto the new creation, rising out
From our old crash, some mystic, ancient strain
Of things destroyed and left in airy doubt;
Like to the notions we now entertain
Of Titans, giants, fellows of about
Some hundred feet in height, _not_ to say _miles,_
And mammoths, and your winged crocodiles.

XXXIX.

Think if then George the Fourth should be dug up![503]
How the new worldlings of the then new East
Will wonder where such animals could sup!
(For they themselves will be but of the least:
Even worlds miscarry, when too oft they pup,
And every new creation hath decreased
In size, from overworking the material--
Men are but maggots of some huge Earth's burial.)

XL.

_How_ will--to these young people, just thrust out
From some fresh Paradise, and set to plough,
And dig, and sweat, and turn themselves about,
And plant, and reap, and spin, and grind, and sow,
Till all the arts at length are brought about,
Especially of War and taxing,--_how_,
I say, will these great relics, when they see 'em,
Look like the monsters of a new Museum!

XLI.

But I am apt to grow too metaphysical:
"The time is out of joint,"[504]--and so am I;
I quite forget this poem's merely quizzical,
And deviate into matters rather dry.
I ne'er decide what I shall say, and this I call[je]
Much too poetical: men should know why
They write, and for what end; but, note or text,
I never know the word which will come next.

XLII.

So on I ramble, now and then narrating,
Now pondering:--it is time we should narrate.
I left Don Juan with his horses baiting--
Now we'll get o'er the ground at a great rate:
I shall not be particular in stating
His journey, we've so many tours of late:
Suppose him then at Petersburgh; suppose
That pleasant capital of painted snows;[505]

XLIII.

Suppose him in a handsome uniform--
A scarlet coat, black facings, a long plume,
Waving, like sails new shivered in a storm,
Over a cocked hat in a crowded room,
And brilliant breeches, bright as a Cairn Gorme,
Of yellow casimire we may presume,
White stockings drawn uncurdled as new milk
O'er limbs whose symmetry set off the silk;[jf]

XLIV.

Suppose him sword by side, and hat in hand,
Made up by Youth, Fame, and an army tailor--
That great enchanter, at whose rod's command
Beauty springs forth, and Nature's self turns paler,
Seeing how Art can make her work more grand
(When she don't pin men's limbs in like a gaoler),--
Behold him placed as if upon a pillar! He[jg]
Seems Love turned a Lieutenant of Artillery![506]

XLV.

His bandage slipped down into a cravat--
His wings subdued to epaulettes--his quiver
Shrunk to a scabbard, with his arrows at
His side as a small sword, but sharp as ever--
His bow converted into a cocked hat--
But still so like, that Psyche were more clever
Than some wives (who make blunders no less stupid),
If she had not mistaken him for Cupid.

XLVI.

The courtiers stared, the ladies whispered, and
The Empress smiled: the reigning favourite frowned--[jh]
I quite forget which of them was in hand
Just then, as they are rather numerous found,[507]
Who took, by turns, that difficult command
Since first her Majesty was singly crowned:[508]
But they were mostly nervous six-foot fellows,
All fit to make a Patagonian jealous.

XLVII.

Juan was none of these, but slight and slim,
Blushing and beardless; and, yet, ne'ertheless,
There was a something in his turn of limb,
And still more in his eye, which seemed to express,
That, though he looked one of the Seraphim,
There lurked a man beneath the Spirit's dress.
Besides, the Empress sometimes liked a boy,
And had just buried the fair-faced Lanskoi.[ji][509]

XLVIII.

No wonder then that Yermoloff, or Momonoff,[510]
Or Scherbatoff, or any other _off_
Or _on_, might dread her Majesty had not room enough
Within her bosom (which was not too tough),
For a new flame; a thought to cast of gloom enough
Along the aspect, whether smooth or rough,
Of him who, in the language of his station,
Then held that "high official situation."

XLIX.

O gentle ladies! should you seek to know
The import of this diplomatic phrase,
Bid Ireland's Londonderry's Marquess[511] show
His parts of speech, and in the strange displays
Of that odd string of words, all in a row,
Which none divine, and every one obeys,
Perhaps you may pick out some queer _no_ meaning,--
Of that weak wordy harvest the sole gleaning.

L.

I think I can explain myself without
That sad inexplicable beast of prey--
That Sphinx, whose words would ever be a doubt,
Did not his deeds unriddle them each day--
That monstrous hieroglyphic--that long spout
Of blood and water--leaden Castlereagh!
And here I must an anecdote relate,
But luckily of no great length or weight.

LI.

An English lady asked of an Italian,
What were the actual and official duties
Of the strange thing some women set a value on,
Which hovers oft about some married beauties,
Called "Cavalier Servente?"[512]--a Pygmalion
Whose statues warm (I fear, alas! too true 't is)
Beneath his art:[jj]--the dame, pressed to disclose them,
Said--"Lady, I beseech you to _suppose them_."

LII.

And thus I supplicate your supposition,
And mildest, matron-like interpretation,
Of the imperial favourite's condition.
'T was a high place, the highest in the nation
In fact, if not in rank; and the suspicion
Of any one's attaining to his station,
No doubt gave pain, where each new pair of shoulders,
If rather broad, made stocks rise--and their holders.

LIII.

Juan, I said, was a most beauteous boy,
And had retained his boyish look beyond
The usual hirsute seasons which destroy,
With beards and whiskers, and the like, the fond
_Parisian_ aspect, which upset old Troy
And founded Doctors' Commons:[jk]--I have conned
The history of divorces, which, though chequered,
Calls Ilion's the first damages on record.

LIV.

And Catherine, who loved all things (save her Lord,
Who was gone to his place), and passed for much,
Admiring those (by dainty dames abhorred)
Gigantic gentlemen, yet had a touch
Of sentiment: and he she most adored
Was the lamented Lanskoi, who was such
A lover as had cost her many a tear,
And yet but made a middling grenadier.

LV.

Oh thou "_teterrima causa_" of all "_belli_"--[513]
Thou gate of Life and Death--thou nondescript!
Whence is our exit and our entrance,--well I
May pause in pondering how all souls are dipped
In thy perennial fountain:--how man _fell_ I
Know not, since Knowledge saw her branches stripped
Of her first fruit; but how he _falls_ and rises
Since,--_thou_ hast settled beyond all surmises.

LVI.

Some call thee "the _worst_ cause of War," but I
Maintain thou art the _best_.--for after all,
From thee we come, to thee we go, and why
To get at thee not batter down a wall,
Or waste a World? since no one can deny
Thou dost replenish worlds both great and small:
With--or without thee--all things at a stand[jl]
Are, or would be, thou sea of Life's dry land![jm]

LVII.

Catherine, who was the grand Epitome
Of that great cause of War, or Peace, or what
You please (it causes all the things which be,
So you may take your choice of this or that)--
Catherine, I say, was very glad to see
The handsome herald, on whose plumage sat[514]
Victory; and, pausing as she saw him kneel
With his despatch, forgot to break the seal.

LVIII.

Then recollecting the whole Empress, nor
Forgetting quite the Woman (which composed
At least three parts of this great whole), she tore
The letter open with an air which posed
The Court, that watched each look her visage wore,
Until a royal smile at length disclosed
Fair weather for the day. Though rather spacious,
Her face was noble, her eyes fine, mouth gracious.[515]

LIX.

Great joy was hers, or rather joys: the first
Was a ta'en city, thirty thousand slain:
Glory and triumph o'er her aspect burst,
As an East Indian sunrise on the main:--
These quenched a moment her Ambition's thirst--
So Arab deserts drink in Summer's rain:
In vain!--As fall the dews on quenchless sands,
Blood only serves to wash Ambition's hands!

LX.

Her next amusement was more fanciful;
She smiled at mad Suwarrow's rhymes, who threw
Into a Russian couplet rather dull
The whole gazette of thousands whom he slew:
Her third was feminine enough to annul
The shudder which runs naturally through
Our veins, when things called Sovereigns think it best
To kill, and Generals turn it into jest.

LXI.

The two first feelings ran their course complete,
And lighted first her eye, and then her mouth:
The whole court looked immediately most sweet,
Like flowers well watered after a long drouth:--
But when on the Lieutenant at her feet
Her Majesty, who liked to gaze on youth
Almost as much as on a new despatch,
Glanced mildly,--all the world was on the watch.

LXII.

Though somewhat large, exuberant, and truculent,
When _wroth_--while _pleased_, she was as fine a figure
As those who like things rosy, ripe, and succulent,
Would wish to look on, while they are in vigour.
She could repay each amatory look you lent
With interest, and, in turn, was wont with rigour
To exact of Cupid's bills the full amount
At sight, nor would permit you to discount.

LXIII.

With her the latter, though at times convenient,
Was not so necessary; for they tell
That she was handsome, and though fierce _looked_ lenient,
And always used her favourites too well.
If once beyond her boudoir's precincts in ye went,
Your "fortune" was in a fair way "to swell
A man" (as Giles says);[516] for though she would widow all
Nations, she liked Man as an individual.

LXIV.

What a strange thing is Man! and what a stranger
Is Woman! What a whirlwind is her head,
And what a whirlpool full of depth and danger
Is all the rest about her! Whether wed,
Or widow--maid--or mother, she can change her
Mind like the wind: whatever she has said
Or done, is light to what she'll say or do;--
The oldest thing on record, and yet new!

LXV.

Oh Catherine! (for of all interjections,
To thee both _oh!_ and _ah!_ belong, of right,
In Love and War) how odd are the connections
Of human thoughts, which jostle in their flight!
Just now _yours_ were cut out in different sections:
_First_ Ismail's capture caught your fancy quite;
_Next_ of new knights, the fresh and glorious batch:
And _thirdly_ he who brought you the despatch!

LXVI.

Shakespeare talks of "the herald Mercury
New lighted on a heaven-kissing hill:"[517]
And some such visions crossed her Majesty,
While her young herald knelt before her still.
'T is very true the hill seemed rather high,
For a Lieutenant to climb up; but skill
Smoothed even the Simplon's steep, and by God's blessing,
With Youth and Health all kisses are "Heaven-kissing."

LXVII.

Her Majesty looked down, the youth looked up--
And so they fell in love;--she with his face,
His grace, his God-knows-what: for Cupid's cup
With the first draught intoxicates apace,
A quintessential laudanum or "Black Drop,"
Which makes one drunk at once, without the base
Expedient of full bumpers; for the eye
In love drinks all Life's fountains (save tears) dry.

LXVIII.

He, on the other hand, if not in love,
Fell into that no less imperious passion,
Self-love--which, when some sort of thing above
Ourselves, a singer, dancer, much in fashion,
Or Duchess--Princess--Empress, "deigns to prove"[518]
('T is Pope's phrase) a great longing, though a rash one,
For one especial person out of many,
Make us believe ourselves as good as any.

LXIX.

Besides, he was of that delighted age
Which makes all female ages equal--when
We don't much care with whom we may engage,
As bold as Daniel in the lions' den,
So that we can our native sun assuage
In the next ocean, which may flow just then--
To make a _twilight_ in, just as Sol's heat is
Quenched in the lap of the salt sea, or Thetis.

LXX.

And Catherine (we must say thus much for Catherine),
Though bold and bloody, was the kind of thing
Whose temporary passion was quite flattering,
Because each lover looked a sort of King,
Made up upon an amatory pattern,
A royal husband in all save the _ring_--[jn]
Which, (being the damnedest part of matrimony,)
Seemed taking out the sting to leave the honey:

LXXI.

And when you add to this, her Womanhood
In its meridian, her blue eyes[519] or gray--
(The last, if they have soul, are quite as good,
Or better, as the best examples say:
Napoleon's, Mary's[520] (Queen of Scotland), should
Lend to that colour a transcendent ray;
And Pallas also sanctions the same hue,
Too wise to look through optics black or blue)--

LXXII.

Her sweet smile, and her then majestic figure,[jo]
Her plumpness, her imperial condescension,
Her preference of a boy to men much bigger
(Fellows whom Messalina's self would pension),
Her prime of life, just now in juicy vigour,
With other _extras_, which we need not mention,--
All these, or any one of these, explain
Enough to make a stripling very vain.

LXXIII.

And that's enough, for Love is vanity,
Selfish in its beginning as its end,[jp]
Except where 't is a mere insanity,
A maddening spirit which would strive to blend
Itself with Beauty's frail inanity,
On which the Passion's self seems to depend;
And hence some heathenish philosophers
Make Love the main-spring of the Universe.

LXXIV.

Besides Platonic love, besides the love
Of God, the love of sentiment, the loving
Of faithful pairs--(I needs must rhyme with dove,
That good old steam-boat which keeps verses moving
'Gainst reason--Reason ne'er was hand-and-glove
With rhyme, but always leant less to improving
The sound than sense)--besides all these pretences
To Love, there are those things which words name senses;

LXXV.

Those movements, those improvements in our bodies
Which make all bodies anxious to get out
Of their own sand-pits, to mix with a goddess,
For such all women are at first no doubt.[jq]
How beautiful that moment! and how odd is
That fever which precedes the languid rout
Of our sensations! What a curious way
The whole thing is of clothing souls in clay![jr]

LXXVI.[521]

The noblest kind of love is love Platonical,
To end or to begin with; the next grand
Is that which may be christened love canonical,
Because the clergy take the thing in hand;
The third sort to be noted in our chronicle
As flourishing in every Christian land,
Is when chaste matrons to their other ties
Add what may be called _marriage in disguise_.

LXXVII.

Well, we won't analyse--our story must
Tell for itself: the Sovereign was smitten,
Juan much flattered by her love, or lust;--
I cannot stop to alter words once written,
And the _two_ are so mixed with human dust,
That he who _names one_, both perchance may hit on:
But in such matters Russia's mighty Empress
Behaved no better than a common sempstress.

LXXVIII.

The whole court melted into one wide whisper,
And all lips were applied unto all ears!
The elder ladies' wrinkles curled much crisper
As they beheld; the younger cast some leers
On one another, and each lovely lisper
Smiled as she talked the matter o'er; but tears
Of rivalship rose in each clouded eye
Of all the standing army who stood by.

LXXIX.

All the ambassadors of all the powers
Inquired, Who was this very new young man,
Who promised to be great in some few hours?
Which is full soon (though Life is but a span).
Already they beheld the silver showers
Of rubles rain, as fast as specie can,
Upon his cabinet, besides the presents
Of several ribands, and some thousand peasants.[522]

LXXX.

Catherine was generous,--all such ladies are:
Love--that great opener of the heart and all
The ways that lead there, be they near or far,
Above, below, by turnpikes great or small,--
Love--(though she had a cursed taste for War,
And was not the best wife unless we call
Such Clytemnestra, though perhaps 't is better
That one should die--than two drag on the fetter)--

LXXXI.

Love had made Catherine make each lover's fortune,
Unlike our own half-chaste Elizabeth,
Whose avarice all disbursements did importune,
If History, the grand liar, ever saith
The truth; and though grief her old age might shorten,
Because she put a favourite to death,
Her vile, ambiguous method of flirtation,
And stinginess, disgrace her sex and station.

LXXXII.

But when the levée rose, and all was bustle
In the dissolving circle, all the nations'
Ambassadors began as 't were to hustle
Round the young man with their congratulations.
Also the softer silks were heard to rustle
Of gentle dames, among whose recreations
It is to speculate on handsome faces,
Especially when such lead to high places.

LXXXIII.

Juan, who found himself, he knew not how,
A general object of attention, made
His answers with a very graceful bow,
As if born for the ministerial trade.
Though modest, on his unembarrassed brow
Nature had written "Gentleman!" He said
Little, but to the purpose; and his manner
Flung hovering graces o'er him like a banner.

LXXXIV.

An order from her Majesty consigned
Our young Lieutenant to the genial care
Of those in office: all the world looked kind,
(As it will look sometimes with the first stare,
Which Youth would not act ill to keep in mind,)
As also did Miss Protasoff[523] then there,[js]
Named from her mystic office "l'Eprouveuse,"
A term inexplicable to the Muse.

LXXXV.

With _her_ then, as in humble duty bound,
Juan retired,--and so will I, until
My Pegasus shall tire of touching ground.
We have just lit on a "heaven-kissing hill,"
So lofty that I feel my brain turn round,
And all my fancies whirling like a mill;
Which is a signal to my nerves and brain,
To take a quiet ride in some green lane.[524]


FOOTNOTES:

{373}[476] [Stanzas i.-viii., which are headed "_Don Juan_, Canto III.,
July 10, 1819," are in the handwriting of (?) the Countess Guiccioli.
Stanzas ix., x., which were written on the same sheet of paper, are in
Byron's handwriting. The original MS. opens with stanza xi., "Death
laughs," etc. (See letter to Moore, July 12, 1822, _Letters_, 1901, vi.
96.)]

[477]

["Faut qu' lord Villain-ton ait tout pris;
N'y a plus d' argent dans c' gueux de Paris."

De Béranger, "Complainte d'une de ces Demoiselles a l'Occasion des
Affaires du Temps (Février, 1816)," _Chansons_, 1821, ii. 17.

Compare a retaliatory epigram which appeared in a contemporary
newspaper--

"These French _petit-maîtres_ who the spectacle throng,
Say of Wellington's dress _qu'il fait vilain ton!_
But, at Waterloo, Wellington made the French stare
When their army he dressed _à la mode Angleterre!_"]

[it] _Oh Wellington_ (_or "Vilainton"_)----.--[MS. B.]

[478] Query, _Ney?_--Printer's Devil. [Michel Ney, Duke of Elchingen,
"the bravest of the brave" (see _Ode from the French_, stanza i.
_Poetical Works_, 1900, iii. 431), born January 10, 1769, was arrested
August 5, and shot December 7, 1815.]

[479] [The story of the attempted assassination (February 11, 1818) of
the Duke of Wellington, which is dismissed by Alison in a few words
(_Hist. of Europe_ (1815-1852), 1853, i. 577, 578), occupies many pages
of the _Supplementary Despatches_ (1865, xii. 271-546). Byron probably
drew his own conclusions as to the Kinnaird-Marinet incident, from the
_Letter to the Duke of Wellington on the Arrest of M. Marinet_, by Lord
Kinnaird, 1818. The story, which is full of interest, may be briefly
recounted. On January 30, 1818, Lord Kinnaird informed Sir George Murray
(Chief of the Staff of the Army of Occupation) that a person, whose name
he withheld, had revealed to him the existence of a plot to assassinate
the Duke of Wellington. At 12.30 a.m., February 11, 1818, the Duke, on
returning to his Hotel, was fired at by an unknown person; and then, but
not till then, he wrote to urge Lord Clancarty to advise the Prince
Regent to take steps to persuade or force Kinnaird to disclose the name
of his informant. A Mr. G.W. Chad, of the Consular Service, was
empowered to proceed to Brussels, and to seek an interview with
Kinnaird. He carried with him, among other documents, a letter from the
Duke to Lord Clancarty, dated February 12, 1818. A postscript contained
this intimation: "It may be proper to mention to you that the French
Government are disposed to go every length in the way of negotiation
with the person mentioned by Lord Kinnaird, or others, to discover the
plot."

Kinnaird absolutely declined to give up the name of his informant, but,
acting on the strength of the postscript, which had been read but not
shown to him, started for Paris with "the great unknown." Some days
after their arrival, and while Kinnaird was a guest of the Duke, the man
was arrested, and discovered to be one Nicholle or Marinet, who had been
appointed _receveur_ under the restored government of Louis XVIII., but
during the _Cent jours_ had fled to Belgium, retaining the funds he had
amassed during his term of office. Kinnaird regarded this action of the
French Government as a breach of faith, and in a "Memorial" to the
French Chamber of Peers, and his _Letter_, maintained that the Duke's
postscript implied a promise of a safe conduct for Marinet to and from
Paris to Brussels. The Duke, on the other hand, was equally positive
(see his letter to Lord Liverpool, May 30, 1818) "that he never intended
to have any negotiations with anybody." Kinnaird was a "dog with a bad
name," He had been accused (see his _Letter to the Earl of Liverpool_,
1816, p. 16) of "the promulgation of dangerous opinions," and of
intimacy "with persons suspected." The Duke speaks of him as "the friend
of Revolutionists"! It is evident that he held the dangerous doctrine
that a promise to a rogue _is_ a promise, and that the authorities took
a different view of the ethics of the situation. It is clear, too, that
the Duke's postscript was ambiguous, but that it did not warrant the
assumption that if Marinet went to Paris he should be protected. The air
was full of plots. The great Duke despised and was inclined to ignore
the pistol or the dagger of the assassin; but he believed that "mischief
was afoot," and that "great personages" might or might not be
responsible. He was beset by difficulties at every turn, and would have
been more than mortal if he had put too favourable a construction on the
scruples, or condoned the imprudence of a "friend of Revolutionists."]

{374}[480] [The reference may be to the Duke of Wellington's intimacy
with Lady Frances Wedderburn Webster. Byron had "passed that way"
himself (see _Letters_, 1898, ii. 251, note i, 323, etc.), and could
hardly attack the Duke on _that_ score.]

[481] ["Thou art the best o' the cut-throats." _Macbeth_, act iii.
sc. 4, line 17.]

[482] ["I have supped full of horrors." _Macbeth_, act v. sc. 5, line 13.]

[483] _Vide_ speeches in Parliament, after the battle of Waterloo.

{376}[484] ["I at this time got a post, being for fatigue, with four
others. We were sent to break biscuit, and make a mess for Lord
Wellington's hounds. I was very hungry, and thought it a good job at the
time, as we got our own fill, while we broke the biscuit,--a thing I had
not got for some days. When thus engaged, the Prodigal Son was never
once out of my mind; and I sighed, as I fed the dogs, over my humble
situation and my ruined hopes."--_Journal of a Soldier of the 71st
Regiment_, 1806 to 1815 (Edinburgh, 1822), pp. 132, 133.]

[485] ["We are assured that Epaminondas died so poor that the Thebans
buried him at the public charge; for at his death nothing was found in
his house but an iron spit."--Plutarch's _Fabius Maximus_, Langhorne's
translation, 1838, p. 140. See, too, Cornelius Nepos, _Epam_., cap. iii.
"Paupertatem adeo facilè perpessus est, ut de Republica nihil præter
gloriam ceperit."]

[486] [For Pitt's refusal to accept £100,000 from the merchants of
London towards the payment of his debts, or £30,000 from the King's
Privy Purse, see _Pitt_, by Lord Rosebery, 1891. p. 231.]

{377}[iu] _To_ you _this_ one _unflattering Muse inscribes_.--[MS.
erased.]

{377}[iv]
_He strips from man his mantle (which is dear_
_Though beautiful in youth) his carnal skin_.--[MS. erased.]

[487] [_Hamlet_, act iii. sc. i, line 56.]

[488] ["O dura messorum ilia!" etc.-Hor., _Epod._ iii. 4.]

[iw] _Ye iron guts_----.--[MS. erased.]

{379}[489] ["Ce n'est qu'à l'édition de 1635 qu'on voit paraître la
devise que Montaigne avait adoptée, le _que sais-je_? avec l'emblème des
balances. ... Ce _que sais-je_ que Pascal a si sévèrement analysé se lit
au chapitre douze du livre ii; il caractérise parfaitement la
philosophie de Montaigne; il est la conséquence de cette maxime qu'il
avait inscrite en grec sur les solives de sa librairie: 'Il n'est point
de raisonnement au quel on n'oppose un raissonnement
contraire.'"--_Oeuvres de ... Montaigne_, 1837, "Notice
Bibliographique," p. xvii.]

[490] [Concerning the Pyrrhonists or Sceptics and their master Pyrrho,
who held that Truth was incomprehensible (_inprensibilis_), and that you
may not affirm of aught that it be rather this or that, or neither this
nor that ([Greek: ou) ma~llon ou(/tôs e(/chei to/de ê)\ e)kei/nôs ê)\
ou)dete/rôs]), see Aul. Gellii _Noct. Attic._, lib. xi. cap. v.]

[491] See _Othello_, [act ii. sc. 3, lines 206, 207: "Well, God's above
all, and there be souls must be saved; and there be souls must not be
saved--Let's have no more of this."]

{380}[492] [_Hamlet_, act v. sc. 2, lines 94, 98, 102.]

[493] [For "Lycanthropy," see "The Soldier's Story" in the _Satyricôn_
of Petronius Arbiter, cap. 62; see, too, _Letters on Demonology, etc._,
by Sir W. Scott, 1830, pp. 211, 212.]

[494] [In respect of suavity and forbearance Melancthon was the
counterpart of Luther. John Arrowsmith (1602-1657), in his _Tractica
Sacra_, describes him as "Vir in quo cum pietate doctrina, et cum
utrâque candor certavit."]

[ix] _Like Moses or like Cobbett who have ne'er._

Moses and Cobbet proclaim themselves the "meekest of men." See their
writings.--[MS.]

_Like Moses who was "very meek" had ne'er_.--[MS. erased.]

{381}[495] [See his "Correspondance avec L'Impératrice de Russie,"
_Oeuvres Complètes_ de Voltaire, 1836, x. 393-477. M. Waliszewski, in
his _Story of a Throne_, 1895, i. 224, has gathered a handful of these
flowers of speech: "She is the chief person in the world.... She is the
fire and life of nations.... She is a saint.... She is above all
saints.... She is equal to the mother of God.... She is the divinity of
the North.--_Te Catherinam laudamus, te Dominam confitemur, etc.,
etc._"]

[iy] _Of everything that ever cursed a nation._--[_MS. erased._]

[496] ["It is still more difficult to say which form of government is
the _worst_--all are so bad. As for democracy, it is the worst of the
whole; for what is (_in fact_) democracy?--an Aristocracy of
Blackguards."--See "My Dictionary" (May 1, 1821), _Letters_, 1901, v.
405, 406.]

{382}[iz] _Though priests and slaves may join the servile cry_.--[_MS.
erased._]

[497] In Greece I never saw or heard these animals; but among the ruins
of Ephesus I have heard them by hundreds.

[See _Childe Harold_, Canto IV. stanza cliii. line 6, _Poetical Works_,
1899, ii. 441; and _Siege of Corinth_, line 329, ibid., 1900, iii. 462,
note 1.]

[ja] _Whereas the others hunt for rascal spiders._--[_MS. erased._]

[jb] _Which still are strongly fluttering to be free_.--[_MS. erased._]

{383}[498] [Compare _The Age of Bronze_, line 576, sq., _Poetical
Works_, 1901, v. 570.]

{384}[499] [Nadir Shah, or Thamas Kouli Khan, born November, 1688,
invaded India, 1739-40, was assassinated June 19, 1747.]

[jc]
---- _went mad and was_
_Killed because what he swallowed would not pass_.--[MS. erased.]

[500] He was killed in a conspiracy, after his temper had been
exasperated by his extreme costivity to a degree of insanity.

[To such a height had his madness (attributed to _melancholia_ produced
by dropsy) attained, that he actually ordered the Afghan chiefs to rise
suddenly upon the Persian guard, and seize the ... chief nobles; but the
project being discovered, the intended victims conspired in turn, and a
body of them, including Nadir's guard, and the chief of his own tribe of
Afshar, entered his tent at midnight, and, after a moment's involuntary
pause--when challenged by the deep voice at which they had so often
trembled--rushed upon the king, who being brought to the ground by a
sabre-stroke, begged for life, and attempted to rise, but soon expired
beneath the repeated blows of the conspirators.--_The Indian Empire_, by
R. Montgomery Martin (1857), i. 172.]

[501] [Compare _Childe Harold_, Canto I. stanza lxvii. line 5, _Poetical
Works_, 1899, ii. 64, note 3.]

{385}[jd] _Or the substrata_----.--[MS.]

[502] [Compare Preface to _Cain_, _Poetical Works_, 1901, V. 210, note
1.]

[503] [_Vide ante,_ Canto VIII. stanza cxxvi. line 9, p. 368.]

{386}[504] [_Hamlet_, act i. sc. 5, line 189.]

[je] _I never know what's next to come_----.--[MS. erased.]

[505] [It is possible that the phrase "painted snows" was suggested by
Tooke's description of the winter-garden of the Taurida Palace: "The
genial warmth, ... the voluptuous silence that reigns in this enchanting
garden, lull the fancy into sweet romantic dreams: we think ourselves in
the groves of Italy, while torpid nature, through the windows of this
pavilion, announces the severity of a northern winter" (_The Life,
etc._, 1800, iii. 48).]

{387}[jf] _O'er limits which mightily_----:--[MS. erased.]

[jg]---- _in Youth and Glory's pillory_.--[MS. erased.]

[506] [In his _Notes sur le Don Juanisme_ (_Mercure de France_, 1898,
xxvi. 66), M. Bruchard says that this phrase defines and summarizes the
Byronic Don Juan.]

[jh]
_The Empress smiled while all the Orloff frowned_--
_A numerous family, to whose heart or hand_
_Mild Catherine owed the chance of being crowned,_.--[MS. erased.]

{388}[507] [C.F.P. Masson, in his _Mémoires Secrets, etc._, 1880, i.
150-178, gives a list of twelve favourites, and in this Canto, Don Juan
takes upon himself the characteristics of at least three, Lanskoï,
Zoritch (or Zovitch), and Plato Zoubof. For example (p. 167), "Zoritch
... est le seul étranger qu'elle ait osé créer son favori pendant son
regne. C'étoit un _Servien_ échappé du bagne de Constantinople où il
étoit prisonnier: il parut, pour la première fois, en habit de hussard à
la cour. Il éblouit tout le monde par sa beauté, et les vielles dames en
parlent encore comme d'un Adonis." M. Waliszewski, in his _Romance of an
Empress_ (1894), devotes a chapter to "Private Life and Favouritism"
(ii. 234-286), in which he graphically describes the election and
inauguration of the _Vremienchtchik_, "the man of the moment," paramour
regnant, and consort of the Empress _pro hac vice_: "'We may observe in
Russia a sort of interregnum in affairs, caused by the displacement of
one favourite and the installation of his successor.' ... The
interregnums are, however, of very short duration. Only one lasts for
several months, between the death of Lanskoï (1784) and the succession
of Iermolof.... There is no lack of candidates. The place is good....
Sometimes, too, on the height by the throne, reached at a bound, these
spoilt children of fate grow giddy.... It is over in an instant, at an
evening reception it is noticed that the Empress has gazed attentively
at some obscure lieutenant, presented but just before ... next day it is
reported that he has been appointed aide-de-camp to her Majesty. What
that means is well known. Next day he finds himself in the special suite
of rooms.... The rooms are already vacated, and everything is prepared
for the new-comer. All imaginable comfort and luxury ... await him; and,
on opening a drawer, he finds a hundred thousand roubles [about
£20,000], the usual first gift, a foretaste of Pactolus. That evening,
before the assembled court, the Empress appears, leaning familiarly on
his arm, and on the stroke of ten, as she retires, the new favourite
follows her" (_ibid._, pp. 246-249).]

[508] [After the death or murder of her husband, Peter III., Catherine
Alexievna (1729-1796) (born Sophia Augusta), daughter of the Prince of
Anhalt Zerbst, was solemnly crowned (September, 1762) Empress of all the
Russias.]

{389}[ji] _And almost died for the scarce-fledged Lanskoi_.--[MS.
erased.]

[509] He was the grande passion of the grande Catherine. See her Lives
under the head of "Lanskoi."

[Lanskoi was a youth of as fine and interesting a figure as the
imagination can paint. Of all Catherine's favourites, he was the man
whom she loved the most. In 1784 he was attacked with a fever, and
perished in the arms of her Majesty. When he was no more, Catherine gave
herself up to the most poignant grief, and remained three months without
going out of her palace of Tzarsko-selo. She afterwards raised a superb
monument to his memory. (See _Life of Catherine II._, by W. Tooke, 1800,
iii. 88, 89.)]

[510] [Ten months after the death of Lanskoi, the Empress consoled
herself with Iermolof, described, by Bezborodky, as "a modest refined
young man, who cultivates the society of serious people." In less than a
year this excellent youth is, in turn, displaced by Dmitrief Mamonof.
His _petit nom_ was _Red Coat_, and, for a time, he is a "priceless
creature." "He has," says Catherine, "two superb black eyes, with
eyebrows outlined as one rarely sees; about the middle height, noble in
manner, easy in demeanour." But Mamonof suffered from "scruples of
conscience," and, after a while, with Catherine's consent and blessing,
was happily married to the Princess Shtcherbatof, a maid of honour, and
not, as Byron supposed, a rival "man of the moment."--See _The Story of
a Throne_, by K. Waliszewski, 1895, ii. 135, sq.]

[511] This was written long before the suicide of that person. [For "his
parts of speech" compare--

" ... that long mandarin
C-stle-r-agh (whom Fum calls the Confucius of Prose)
Was rehearsing a speech upon Europe's repose
To the deep double bass of the fat Idol's nose."

Moore's _Fum and Hum, The Two Birds of Royalty_.]

{390}[512] [Compare _Beppo_, stanza xvii. line 8, _Poetical Works_,
1901, iv. 165. See, too, letter to Hoppner, December 31, 1819,
_Letters_, 1900, iv. 393.]

[jj]
_Beneath his chisel_--
or, _Beneath his touches_----.--[MS. erased.]

{391}[jk] ---- _and bound fair Helen in a bond_.--[MS. erased.]

[513] Hor., _Sat._, lib. i. sat. iii. lines 107, 108.

[jl] _That Riddle which all read, none understand_.--[MS. erased.]

[jm]---- _thou Sea which lavest Life's sand_.--[MS. erased.]

{392}[514] ["Fortune and victory sit on thy helm."--_Richard III._, act
v, sc. 3, line 79.]

[515] ["Catherine had been handsome in her youth, and she preserved a
gracefulness and majesty to the last period of her life. She was of a
moderate stature, but well proportioned; and as she carried her head
very high, she appeared rather tall. She had an open front, an aquiline
nose, an agreeable mouth, and her chin, though long, was not mis-shapen.
Her hair was auburn, her eyebrows black and rather thick, and her blue
eyes had a gentleness which was often affected, but oftener still a
mixture of pride. Her physiognomy was not deficient in expression; but
this expression never discovered what was passing in the soul of
Catherine, or rather it served her the better to disguise it."--_Life of
Catherine II._, by W. Tooke, in. 381 (translated from _Vie de Catherine
II._ (J.H. Castéra), 1797, ii. 450).]

{393}[516] ["His fortune swells him: 'Tis rank, he's married."--_Sir
Giles Overreach_, in Massinger's _New Way to pay Old Debts_, act v. sc.
1.]

{394}[517] [_Hamlet_, act iii. sc. iv. lines 58, 59.]

{395}[518]

["Not Cæsar's empress would I deign to prove;
No! make me mistress to the man I love."

Pope, _Eloisa to Abelard_, lines 87, 88.]

[jn]
_O'er whom an Empress her Crown-jewels scattering_
_Was wed with something better than a ring_.--[MS. erased.]

[519] ["Several persons who lived at the court affirm that Catherine had
very blue eyes, and not brown, as M. Rulhières has stated."--_Life of
Catherine II._, by W. Tooke, 1800, iii. 382.]

{396}[520] [The historic Catherine (_æt._ 62) was past her meridian in
the spring of 1791.]

[jo] _Her figure, and her vigour, and her rigour_.--[MS. erased.]

[jp] _In its sincere beginning, or dull end_.--[MS. erased.]

{397}[jq] _For such all women are just_ then, _no doubt_.--[MS.]

[jr]
_Of such sensations, in the drowsy drear_
After--_which shadows the, say_--second _year_.--[MS.]
_Of that sad heavy, drowsy, doubly drear_
After, _which shadows the first--say, year_.--[MS. erased.]

[521] [Stanza lxxvi. is not in the MS.]

{398}[522] A Russian estate is always valued by the number of the slaves
upon it.

{399}[523] [The "Protassova" (born 1744) was a cousin of the Orlofs. She
survived Catherine by many years, and was, writes M. Waliszewski (_The
Story of a Throne_, 1895, ii. 193), "present at the Congress of Vienna,
covered with diamonds like a reliquary, and claiming precedence of every
one." She is named _l'éprouveuse_ in a note to the _Mémoires Secrets_,
1800, i. 148.]

[js] _And not be dazzled by its early glare_.--[MS. erased.]

[524] End of Canto 9^th^, Augt. Sept., 1822. B.

Lord George Gordon Byron