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Canto the Eleventh


I.

WHEN Bishop Berkeley said "there was no matter,"[562]
And proved it--'t was no matter what he said:
They say his system 't is in vain to batter,
Too subtle for the airiest human head;
And yet who can believe it? I would shatter
Gladly all matters down to stone or lead,
Or adamant, to find the World a spirit,
And wear my head, denying that I wear it.

II.

What a sublime discovery 't was to make the
Universe universal egotism,
That all's ideal--_all ourselves!_--I'll stake the
World (be it what you will) that _that's_ no schism.
Oh Doubt!--if thou be'st Doubt, for which some take thee,
But which I doubt extremely--thou sole prism
Of the Truth's rays, spoil not my draught of spirit!
Heaven's brandy, though our brain can hardly bear it.

III.

For ever and anon comes Indigestion
(Not the most "dainty Ariel"),[563] and perplexes
Our soarings with another sort of question:
And that which after all my spirit vexes,
Is, that I find no spot where Man can rest eye on,
Without confusion of the sorts and sexes,
Of Beings, Stars, and this unriddled wonder,
The World, which at the worst's a _glorious_ blunder--

IV.

If it be chance--or, if it be according
To the old text, still better:--lest it should
Turn out so, we 'll say nothing 'gainst the wording,
As several people think such hazards rude.
They're right; our days are too brief for affording
Space to dispute what _no one_ ever could
Decide, and _everybody one day_ will
Know very clearly--or at least lie still.

V.

And therefore will I leave off metaphysical
Discussion, which is neither here nor there:
If I agree that what is, is; then this I call
Being quite perspicuous and extremely fair;
The truth is, I've grown lately rather phthisical:[564]
I don't know what the reason is--the air
Perhaps; but as I suffer from the shocks
Of illness, I grow much more orthodox.

VI.

The first attack at once proved the Divinity
(But that I never doubted, nor the Devil);
The next, the Virgin's mystical virginity;
The third, the usual Origin of Evil;
The fourth at once established the whole Trinity
On so uncontrovertible a level,
That I devoutly wished the three were four--
On purpose to believe so much the more.

VII.

To our theme.--The man who has stood on the Acropolis,
And looked down over Attica; or he
Who has sailed where picturesque Constantinople is,
Or seen Timbuctoo, or hath taken tea
In small-eyed China's crockery-ware metropolis,
Or sat amidst the bricks of Nineveh,[kk]
May not think much of London's first appearance--
But ask him what he thinks of it a year hence!

VIII.

Don Juan had got out on Shooter's Hill;
Sunset the time, the place the same declivity
Which looks along that vale of Good and Ill
Where London streets ferment in full activity,
While everything around was calm and still,
Except the creak of wheels, which on their pivot he
Heard,--and that bee-like, bubbling, busy hum
Of cities, that boil over with their scum:--

IX.

I say, Don Juan, wrapped in contemplation,
Walked on behind his carriage, o'er the summit,
And lost in wonder of so great a nation,
Gave way to 't, since he could not overcome it.
"And here," he cried, "is Freedom's chosen station;
Here peals the People's voice, nor can entomb it
Racks--prisons--inquisitions; Resurrection
Awaits it, each new meeting or election.

X.

"Here are chaste wives, pure lives; here people pay
But what they please; and if that things be dear,
'T is only that they love to throw away
Their cash, to show how much they have a-year.
Here laws are all inviolate--none lay
Traps for the traveller--every highway's clear--
Here"--he was interrupted by a knife,
With--"Damn your eyes! your money or your life!"--

XI.

These free-born sounds proceeded from four pads
In ambush laid, who had perceived him loiter
Behind his carriage; and, like handy lads,
Had seized the lucky hour to reconnoitre,
In which the heedless gentleman who gads
Upon the road, unless he prove a fighter,
May find himself within that isle of riches
Exposed to lose his life as well as breeches.

XII.

Juan, who did not understand a word
Of English, save their shibboleth, "God damn!"[565]
And even that he had so rarely heard,
He sometimes thought 't was only their "Sal[-a]m,"
Or "God be with you!"--and 't is not absurd
To think so,--for half English as I am
(To my misfortune), never can I say
I heard them wish "God with you," save that way;--

XIII.

Juan yet quickly understood their gesture,
And being somewhat choleric and sudden,
Drew forth a pocket pistol from his vesture,
And fired it into one assailant's pudding--
Who fell, as rolls an ox o'er in his pasture,
And roared out, as he writhed his native mud in,
Unto his nearest follower or henchman,
"Oh Jack! I'm floored by that 'ere bloody Frenchman!"

XIV.

On which Jack and his train set off at speed,
And Juan's suite, late scattered at a distance,
Came up, all marvelling at such a deed,
And offering, as usual, late assistance.
Juan, who saw the moon's late minion[566] bleed
As if his veins would pour out his existence,
Stood calling out for bandages and lint,
And wished he had been less hasty with his flint.

XV.

"Perhaps," thought he, "it is the country's wont
To welcome foreigners in this way: now
I recollect some innkeepers who don't
Differ, except in robbing with a bow,
In lieu of a bare blade and brazen front--
But what is to be done? I can't allow
The fellow to lie groaning on the road:
So take him up--I'll help you with the load."

XVI.

But ere they could perform this pious duty,
The dying man cried, "Hold! I've got my gruel!
Oh! for a glass of _max_![567] We've missed our booty;
Let me die where I am!" And as the fuel
Of Life shrunk in his heart, and thick and sooty
The drops fell from his death-wound, and he drew ill
His breath,--he from his swelling throat untied
A kerchief, crying, "Give Sal that!"--and died.

XVII.

The cravat stained with bloody drops fell down
Before Don Juan's feet: he could not tell
Exactly why it was before him thrown,
Nor what the meaning of the man's farewell.
Poor Tom was once a kiddy upon town,
A thorough varmint, and a _real_ swell,
Full flash,[568] all fancy, until fairly diddled,
His pockets first and then his body riddled.

XVIII.

Don Juan, having done the best he could
In all the circumstances of the case,
As soon as "Crowner's quest"[569] allowed, pursued
His travels to the capital apace;--
Esteeming it a little hard he should
In twelve hours' time, and very little space,
Have been obliged to slay a free-born native
In self-defence: this made him meditative.

XIX.

He from the world had cut off a great man,
Who in his time had made heroic bustle.
Who in a row like Tom could lead the van,
Booze in the ken, or at the spellken hustle?
Who queer a flat?[570] Who (spite of Bow-street's ban)
On the high toby-spice so flash the muzzle?
Who on a lark with black-eyed Sal (his blowing),
So prime--so swell--so nutty--and so knowing?[kl][571]

XX.

But Tom's no more--and so no more of Tom.
Heroes must die; and by God's blessing 't is
Not long before the most of them go home.
Hail! Thamis, hail! Upon thy verge it is
That Juan's chariot, rolling like a drum
In thunder, holds the way it can't well miss,
Through Kennington and all the other "tons,"
Which make us wish ourselves in town at once;--

XXI.

Through Groves, so called as being void of trees,
(Like _lucus_ from _no_ light); through prospects named
Mount Pleasant, as containing nought to please,
Nor much to climb; through little boxes framed
Of bricks, to let the dust in at your ease,
With "To be let," upon their doors proclaimed;
Through "Rows" most modestly called "Paradise,"[572]
Which Eve might quit without much sacrifice;--[km]

XXII.

Through coaches, drays, choked turnpikes, and a whirl
Of wheels, and roar of voices, and confusion;
Here taverns wooing to a pint of "purl,"[573]
There mails fast flying off like a delusion;
There barbers' blocks with periwigs in curl
In windows; here the lamplighter's infusion
Slowly distilled into the glimmering glass
(For in those days we had not got to gas--);[kn][574]

XXIII.

Through this, and much, and more, is the approach
Of travellers to mighty Babylon:
Whether they come by horse, or chaise, or coach,
With slight exceptions, all the ways seem one.
I could say more, but do not choose to encroach
Upon the Guide-book's privilege. The Sun
Had set some time, and night was on the ridge
Of twilight, as the party crossed the bridge.

XXIV.

That's rather fine, the gentle sound of Thamis--
Who vindicates a moment, too, his stream--
Though hardly heard through multifarious "damme's:"
The lamps of Westminster's more regular gleam,
The breadth of pavement, and yon shrine where Fame is
A spectral resident--whose pallid beam
In shape of moonshine hovers o'er the pile--
Make this a sacred part of Albion's isle.

XXV.

The Druids' groves are gone--so much the better:
Stonehenge is not--but what the devil is it?--But
Bedlam still exists with its sage fetter,
That madmen may not bite you on a visit;
The Bench too seats or suits full many a debtor;
The Mansion House,[575] too (though some people quiz it),
To me appears a stiff yet grand erection;
But then the Abbey's worth the whole collection.

XXVI.

The line of lights,[576] too, up to Charing Cross,
Pall Mall, and so forth, have a coruscation
Like gold as in comparison to dross,
Matched with the Continent's illumination,
Whose cities Night by no means deigns to gloss.
The French were not yet a lamp-lighting nation,
And when they grew so--on their new-found lantern,
Instead of wicks, they made a wicked man turn.[577]

XXVII.

A row of Gentlemen along the streets
Suspended may illuminate mankind,
As also bonfires made of country seats;
But the old way is best for the purblind:
The other looks like phosphorus on sheets,
A sort of _ignis fatuus_ to the mind,
Which, though 't is certain to perplex and frighten,
Must burn more mildly ere it can enlighten.

XXVIII.

But London's so well lit, that if Diogenes
Could recommence to hunt his _honest man_,
And found him not amidst the various progenies
Of this enormous City's spreading span,
'T were not for want of lamps to aid his dodging his
Yet undiscovered treasure. What _I_ can,
I've done to find the same throughout Life's journey,
But see the World is only one attorney.

XXIX.

Over the stones still rattling, up Pall Mall,
Through crowds and carriages, but waxing thinner
As thundered knockers broke the long sealed spell
Of doors 'gainst duns, and to an early dinner
Admitted a small party as night fell,--
Don Juan, our young diplomatic sinner,
Pursued his path, and drove past some hotels,
St. James's Palace, and St. James's "Hells."[578]

XXX.

They reached the hotel: forth streamed from the front door[ko]
A tide of well-clad waiters, and around
The mob stood, and as usual several score
Of those pedestrian Paphians who abound
In decent London when the daylight's o'er;
Commodious but immoral, they are found
Useful, like Malthus, in promoting marriage.--
But Juan now is stepping from his carriage

XXXI.

Into one of the sweetest of hotels,[kp][579]
Especially for foreigners--and mostly
For those whom favour or whom Fortune swells,
And cannot find a bill's small items costly.
There many an envoy either dwelt or dwells
(The den of many a diplomatic lost lie),
Until to some conspicuous square they pass,
And blazon o'er the door their names in brass.

XXXII.

Juan, whose was a delicate commission,
Private, though publicly important, bore
No title to point out with due precision
The exact affair on which he was sent o'er.
'T was merely known, that on a secret mission
A foreigner of rank had graced our shore,
Young, handsome, and accomplished, who was said
(In whispers) to have turned his Sovereign's head.

XXXIII.

Some rumour also of some strange adventures
Had gone before him, and his wars and loves;
And as romantic heads are pretty painters,
And, above all, an Englishwoman's roves[kq]
Into the excursive, breaking the indentures
Of sober reason, wheresoe'er it moves,
He found himself extremely in the fashion,
Which serves our thinking people for a passion.

XXXIV.

I don't mean that they are passionless, but quite
The contrary; but then 't is in the head;
Yet as the consequences are as bright
As if they acted with the heart instead,
What after all can signify the site
Of ladies' lucubrations? So they lead
In safety to the place for which you start,
What matters if the road be head or heart?

XXXV.

Juan presented in the proper place,
To proper placemen, every Russ credential;
And was received with all the due grimace
By those who govern in the mood potential,
Who, seeing a handsome stripling with smooth face,
Thought (what in state affairs is most essential),
That they as easily might _do_ the youngster,
As hawks may pounce upon a woodland songster.

XXXVI.

They erred, as agéd men will do; but by
And by we'll talk of that; and if we don't,
'T will be because our notion is not high
Of politicians and their double front,
Who live by lies, yet dare not boldly lie:--
Now what I love in women is, they won't
Or can't do otherwise than lie--but do it
So well, the very Truth seems falsehood to it.

XXXVII.

And, after all, what is a lie? 'T is but
The truth in masquerade; and I defy[kr]
Historians--heroes--lawyers--priests, to put
A fact without some leaven of a lie.
The very shadow of true Truth would shut
Up annals--revelations--poesy,
And prophecy--except it should be dated
Some years before the incidents related.

XXXVIII.

Praised be all liars and all lies! Who now
Can tax my mild Muse with misanthropy?
She rings the World's "Te Deum," and her brow
Blushes for those who will not:--but to sigh
Is idle; let us like most others bow,
Kiss hands--feet--any part of Majesty,
After the good example of "Green Erin,"[580]
Whose shamrock now seems rather worse for wearing.[ks]

XXXIX.

Don Juan was presented, and his dress
And mien excited general admiration--
I don't know which was more admired or less:
One monstrous diamond drew much observation,
Which Catherine in a moment of _"ivresse"_
(In Love or Brandy's fervent fermentation),
Bestowed upon him, as the public learned;
And, to say truth, it had been fairly earned.

XL.

Besides the ministers and underlings,
Who must be courteous to the accredited
Diplomatists of rather wavering Kings,
Until their royal riddle's fully read,
The very clerks,--those somewhat dirty springs
Of Office, or the House of Office, fed
By foul corruption into streams,--even they
Were hardly rude enough to earn their pay:

XLI.

And insolence no doubt is what they are
Employed for, since it is their daily labour,
In the dear offices of Peace or War;
And should you doubt, pray ask of your next neighbour,
When for a passport, or some other bar
To freedom, he applied (a grief and a bore),
If he found not this spawn of tax-born riches,
Like lap-dogs, the least civil sons of b----s.

XLII.

But Juan was received with much _"empressement:"_--
These phrases of refinement I must borrow
From our next neighbours' land, where, like a chessman,
There is a move set down for joy or sorrow,
Not only in mere talking, but the press. Man
In Islands is, it seems, downright and thorough,
More than on Continents--as if the Sea
(See Billingsgate) made even the tongue more free.

XLIII.

And yet the British "Damme"'s rather Attic,
Your continental oaths are but incontinent,
And turn on things which no aristocratic
Spirit would name, and therefore even I won't anent[581]
This subject quote; as it would be schismatic
In _politesse_, and have a sound affronting in 't;--
But "Damme"'s quite ethereal, though too daring--
Platonic blasphemy--the soul of swearing.[kt]

XLIV.

For downright rudeness, ye may stay at home;
For true or false politeness (and scarce _that
Now_) you may cross the blue deep and white foam--
The first the emblem (rarely though) of what
You leave behind, the next of much you come
To meet. However, 't is no time to chat
On general topics: poems must confine
Themselves to unity, like this of mine.[ku]

XLV.

In the great world,--which, being interpreted,
Meaneth the West or worst end of a city,
And about twice two thousand people bred
By no means to be very wise or witty,
But to sit up while others lie in bed,
And look down on the Universe with pity,--
Juan, as an inveterate patrician,
Was well received by persons of condition.

XLVI.

He was a bachelor, which is a matter
Of import both to virgin and to bride,
The former's hymeneal hopes to flatter;
And (should she not hold fast by Love or Pride)
'T is also of some moment to the latter:
A rib's a thorn in a wed gallant's side,
Requires decorum, and is apt to double
The horrid sin--and what's still worse, the trouble.

XLVII.

But Juan was a bachelor--of arts,
And parts, and hearts: he danced and sung, and had
An air as sentimental as Mozart's
Softest of melodies; and could be sad
Or cheerful, without any "flaws or starts,"[582]
Just at the proper time: and though a lad,
Had seen the world--which is a curious sight,
And very much unlike what people write.

XLVIII.

Fair virgins blushed upon him; wedded dames
Bloomed also in less transitory hues;[kv]
For both commodities dwell by the Thames,
The painting and the painted; Youth, Ceruse,[kw]
Against his heart preferred their usual claims,
Such as no gentleman can quite refuse:
Daughters admired his dress, and pious mothers
Inquired his income, and if he had brothers.

XLIX.

The milliners who furnish "drapery Misses"[583]
Throughout the season, upon speculation
Of payment ere the Honeymoon's last kisses
Have waned into a crescent's coruscation,
Thought such an opportunity as this is,
Of a rich foreigner's initiation,
Not to be overlooked--and gave such credit,
That future bridegrooms swore, and sighed, and paid it.

L.

The Blues, that tender tribe, who sigh o'er sonnets,
And with the pages of the last Review
Line the interior of their heads or bonnets,
Advanced in all their azure's highest hue:
They talked bad French or Spanish, and upon its
Late authors asked him for a hint or two;
And which was softest, Russian or Castilian?
And whether in his travels he saw Ilion?

LI.

Juan, who was a little superficial,
And not in literature a great Drawcansir,[584]
Examined by this learnéd and especial
Jury of matrons, scarce knew what to answer:
His duties warlike, loving or official,
His steady application as a dancer,
Had kept him from the brink of Hippocrene,
Which now he found was blue instead of green.

LII.

However, he replied at hazard, with
A modest confidence and calm assurance,
Which lent his learnéd lucubrations pith,
And passed for arguments of good endurance.
That prodigy, Miss Araminta Smith
(Who at sixteen translated "Hercules Furens"
Into as furious English), with her best look,
Set down his sayings in her common-place book.

LIII.

Juan knew several languages--as well
He might--and brought them up with skill, in time
To save his fame with each accomplished belle,
Who still regretted that he did not rhyme.
There wanted but this requisite to swell
His qualities (with them) into sublime:
Lady Fitz-Frisky, and Miss Maevia Mannish,
Both longed extremely to be sung in Spanish.

LIV.

However, he did pretty well, and was
Admitted as an aspirant to all
The coteries, and, as in Banquo's glass,
At great assemblies or in parties small,
He saw ten thousand living authors pass,
That being about their average numeral;
Also the eighty "greatest living poets,"[585]
As every paltry magazine can show _it's_.

LV.

In twice five years the "greatest living poet,"
Like to the champion in the fisty ring,
Is called on to support his claim, or show it,
Although 't is an imaginary thing.
Even I--albeit I'm sure I did not know it,
Nor sought of foolscap subjects to be king,--
Was reckoned, a considerable time,
The grand Napoleon of the realms of rhyme.[kx]

LVI.

But Juan was my Moscow, and Faliero
My Leipsic, and my Mont Saint Jean seems Cain:[586]
_La Belle Alliance_ of dunces down at zero,
Now that the Lion's fallen, may rise again:
But I will fall at least as fell my Hero;
Nor reign at all, or as a _monarch_ reign;
Or to some lonely isle of gaolers go,
With turncoat Southey for my turnkey Lowe.[ky]

LVII.

Sir Walter reigned before me; Moore and Campbell
Before and after; but now grown more holy,
The Muses upon Sion's hill must ramble
With poets almost clergymen, or wholly;
And Pegasus has a psalmodic amble
Beneath the very Reverend Rowley Powley,[kz][587]
Who shoes the glorious animal with stilts,
A modern Ancient Pistol--"by these hilts!"[588]

LVIII.

Still he excels that artificial hard
Labourer in the same vineyard, though the vine
Yields him but vinegar for his reward.--
That neutralised dull Dorus of the Nine;
That swarthy Sporus, neither man nor bard;
That ox of verse, who _ploughs_ for every line:--
Cambyses' roaring Romans beat at least
The howling Hebrews of Cybele's priest.--[589]

LIX.

Then there's my gentle Euphues,--who, they say,[la]
Sets up for being a sort of _moral me_;[590]
He'll find it rather difficult some day
To turn out both, or either, it may be.
Some persons think that Coleridge hath the sway;
And Wordsworth has supporters, two or three;
And that deep-mouthed Boeotian "Savage Landor"[591]
Has taken for a swan rogue Southey's gander.

LX.

John Keats, who was killed off by one critique,
Just as he really promised something great,
If not intelligible, without Greek
Contrived to talk about the gods of late,
Much as they might have been supposed to speak.[592]
Poor fellow! His was an untoward fate;
'T is strange the mind, that very fiery particle,[lb][593]
Should let itself be snuffed out by an article.

LXI.

The list grows long of live and dead pretenders
To that which none will gain--or none will know
The conqueror at least; who, ere Time renders
His last award, will have the long grass grow
Above his burnt-out brain, and sapless cinders.
If I might augur, I should rate but low
Their chances;--they're too numerous, like the thirty[594]
Mock tyrants, when Rome's annals waxed but dirty.

LXII.

This is the literary _lower_ empire,
Where the praetorian bands take up the matter;--
A "dreadful trade," like his who "gathers samphire,"[595]
The insolent soldiery to soothe and flatter,
With the same feelings as you'd coax a vampire.
Now, were I once at home, and in good satire,
I'd try conclusions with those Janizaries,
And show them _what_ an intellectual war is.

LXIII.

I think I know a trick or two, would turn
Their flanks;--but it is hardly worth my while,
With such small gear to give myself concern:
Indeed I've not the necessary bile;
My natural temper's really aught but stern,
And even my Muse's worst reproof's a smile;
And then she drops a brief and modern curtsy,
And glides away, assured she never hurts ye.

LXIV.

My Juan, whom I left in deadly peril
Amongst live poets and _blue_ ladies, passed
With some small profit through that field so sterile,
Being tired in time--and, neither least nor last,
Left it before he had been treated very ill;
And henceforth found himself more gaily classed
Amongst the higher spirits of the day,
The Sun's true son, no vapour, but a ray.

LXV.

His morns he passed in business--which dissected,
Was, like all business, a laborious nothing
That leads to lassitude, the most infected
And Centaur Nessus garb of mortal clothing,[596]
And on our sofas makes us lie dejected,
And talk in tender horrors of our loathing
All kinds of toil, save for our country's good--
Which grows no better, though 't is time it should.

LXVI.

His afternoons he passed in visits, luncheons,
Lounging and boxing; and the twilight hour
In riding round those vegetable puncheons
Called "Parks," where there is neither fruit nor flower
Enough to gratify a bee's slight munchings;
But after all it is the only "bower"[597]
(In Moore's phrase) where the fashionable fair
Can form a slight acquaintance with fresh air.

LXVII.

Then dress, then dinner, then awakes the world!
Then glare the lamps, then whirl the wheels, then roar
Through street and square fast flashing chariots hurled
Like harnessed meteors; then along the floor
Chalk mimics painting; then festoons are twirled;
Then roll the brazen thunders of the door,
Which opens to the thousand happy few
An earthly Paradise of _Or Molu_.

LXVIII.

There stands the noble hostess, nor shall sink
With the three-thousandth curtsy; there the waltz,
The only dance which teaches girls to think,[598]
Makes one in love even with its very faults.
Saloon, room, hall, o'erflow beyond their brink,
And long the latest of arrivals halts,
'Midst royal dukes and dames condemned to climb,
And gain an inch of staircase at a time.

LXIX.

Thrice happy he who, after a survey
Of the good company, can win a corner,
A door that's _in_ or boudoir _out_ of the way,
Where he may fix himself like small "Jack Horner,"
And let the Babel round run as it may,
And look on as a mourner, or a scorner,
Or an approver, or a mere spectator,
Yawning a little as the night grows later.

LXX.

But this won't do, save by and by; and he
Who, like Don Juan, takes an active share,
Must steer with care through all that glittering sea
Of gems and plumes and pearls and silks, to where
He deems it is his proper place to be;
Dissolving in the waltz to some soft air,
Or proudlier prancing with mercurial skill,
Where Science marshals forth her own quadrille.

LXXI.

Or, if he dance not, but hath higher views
Upon an heiress or his neighbour's bride,
Let him take care that that which he pursues
Is not at once too palpably descried:
Full many an eager gentleman oft rues
His haste; Impatience is a blundering guide
Amongst a people famous for reflection,
Who like to play the fool with circumspection.

LXXII.

But, if you can contrive, get next at supper;
Or, if forestalled, get opposite and ogle:--
Oh, ye ambrosial moments! always upper
In mind, a sort of sentimental bogle,[599]
Which sits for ever upon Memory's crupper,
The ghost of vanished pleasures once in vogue! Ill
Can tender souls relate the rise and fall
Of hopes and fears which shake a single ball.

LXXIII.

But these precautionary hints can touch
Only the common run, who must pursue,
And watch and ward; whose plans a word too much
Or little overturns; and not the few
Or many (for the number's sometimes such)
Whom a good mien, especially if new,
Or fame--or name--for Wit, War, Sense, or Nonsense,
Permits whate'er they please,--or _did_ not long since.

LXXIV.

Our Hero--as a hero--young and handsome,
Noble, rich, celebrated, and a stranger,
Like other slaves of course must pay his ransom,
Before he can escape from so much danger
As will environ a conspicuous man. Some
Talk about poetry, and "rack and manger,"
And ugliness, disease, as toil and trouble;--
I wish they knew the life of a young noble.

LXXV.

They are young, but know not Youth--it is anticipated;
Handsome but wasted, rich without a sou;[lc]
Their vigour in a thousand arms is dissipated;
Their cash comes _from_, their wealth goes _to_ a Jew;
Both senates see their nightly votes participated
Between the Tyrant's and the Tribunes' crew;
And having voted, dined, drunk, gamed, and whored,
The family vault receives another Lord.

LXXVI.

"Where is the World?" cries Young, at _eighty_[600]--"Where
The World in which a man was born?" Alas!
Where is the world of _eight_ years past? _'T was there_--
I look for it--'t is gone, a globe of glass!
Cracked, shivered, vanished, scarcely gazed on, ere[ld]
A silent change dissolves the glittering mass.
Statesmen, Chiefs, Orators, Queens, Patriots, Kings,
And Dandies--all are gone on the Wind's wings.

LXXVII.

Where is Napoleon the Grand? God knows!
Where little Castlereagh? The devil can tell!
Where Grattan, Curran, Sheridan--all those
Who bound the Bar or Senate in their spell?
Where is the unhappy Queen, with all her woes?
And where the Daughter, whom the Isles loved well?
Where are those martyred saints the Five per Cents?[le][601]
And where--oh, where the devil are the Rents?

LXXVIII.

Where's Brummell? Dished. Where's Long Pole Wellesley?[602] Diddled.
Where's Whitbread? Romilly? Where's George the Third?
Where is his will?[603] (That's not so soon unriddled.)
And where is "Fum" the Fourth, our "royal bird?"[604]
Gone down, it seems, to Scotland to be fiddled
Unto by Sawney's violin, we have heard:
"Caw me, caw thee"--for six months hath been hatching
This scene of royal itch and loyal scratching.

LXXIX.

Where is Lord This? And where my Lady That?
The Honourable Mistresses and Misses?
Some laid aside like an old Opera hat,
Married, unmarried, and remarried: (this is
An evolution oft performed of late).
Where are the Dublin shouts--and London hisses?
Where are the Grenvilles? Turned as usual. Where
My friends the Whigs? Exactly where they were.

LXXX.

Where are the Lady Carolines and Franceses?[605]
Divorced or doing thereanent. Ye annals
So brilliant, where the list of routs and dances is,--
Thou Morning Post, sole record of the panels
Broken in carriages, and all the phantasies
Of fashion,--say what streams now fill those channels?
Some die, some fly, some languish on the Continent,
Because the times have hardly left them _one_ tenant.

LXXXI.

Some who once set their caps at cautious dukes,[lf]
Have taken up at length with younger brothers:
Some heiresses have bit at sharpers' hooks:
Some maids have been made wives, some merely mothers:
Others have lost their fresh and fairy looks:
In short, the list of alterations bothers.
There's little strange in this, but something strange is
The unusual quickness of these common changes.

LXXXII.

Talk not of seventy years as age; in seven
I have seen more changes, down from monarchs to
The humblest individuals under Heaven,
Than might suffice a moderate century through.
I knew that nought was lasting, but now even
Change grows too changeable, without being new:
Nought's permanent among the human race,
Except the Whigs _not_ getting into place.

LXXXIII.

I have seen Napoleon, who seemed quite a Jupiter,
Shrink to a Saturn. I have seen a Duke
(No matter which) turn politician stupider,
If that can well be, than his wooden look.
But it is time that I should hoist my "blue Peter,"
And sail for a new theme:--I have seen--and shook
To see it--the King hissed, and then caressed;
But don't pretend to settle which was best.

LXXXIV.

I have seen the Landholders without a rap--
I have seen Joanna Southcote--I have seen
The House of Commons turned to a tax-trap--
I have seen that sad affair of the late Queen--
I have seen crowns worn instead of a fool's cap--
I have seen a Congress[606] doing all that's mean--
I have seen some nations, like o'erloaded asses,
Kick off their burthens--meaning the high classes.

LXXXV.

I have seen small poets, and great prosers, and
Interminable--_not eternal_--speakers--
I have seen the funds at war with house and land--
I have seen the country gentlemen turn squeakers--
I have seen the people ridden o'er like sand
By slaves on horseback--I have seen malt liquors
Exchanged for "thin potations"[607] by John Bull--
I have seen John half detect himself a fool.--

LXXXVI.

But _"carpe diem,"_ Juan, _"carpe, carpe!"_[608]
To-morrow sees another race as gay
And transient, and devoured by the same harpy.
"Life's a poor player,"[609]--then "play out the play,[610]
Ye villains!" and above all keep a sharp eye
Much less on what you do than what you say:
Be hypocritical, be cautious, be
Not what you _seem_, but always what you _see_.

LXXXVII.

But how shall I relate in other cantos
Of what befell our hero in the land,
Which 't is the common cry and lie to vaunt as
A moral country? But I hold my hand--
For I disdain to write an Atalantis;[611]
But 't is as well at once to understand,
You are _not_ a moral people, and you know it,
Without the aid of too sincere a poet.

LXXXVIII.

What Juan saw and underwent shall be
My topic, with of course the due restriction
Which is required by proper courtesy;
And recollect the work is only fiction,
And that I sing of neither mine nor me,
Though every scribe, in some slight turn of diction,
Will hint allusions never _meant_. Ne'er doubt
_This_--when I speak, I _don't hint_, but _speak out_.

LXXXIX.

Whether he married with the third or fourth
Offspring of some sage husband-hunting countess,
Or whether with some virgin of more worth
(I mean in Fortune's matrimonial bounties),
He took to regularly peopling Earth,
Of which your lawful, awful wedlock fount is,--
Or whether he was taken in for damages,
For being too excursive in his homages,--

XC.

Is yet within the unread events of Time.
Thus far, go forth, thou Lay, which I will back
Against the same given quantity of rhyme,
For being as much the subject of attack
As ever yet was any work sublime,
By those who love to say that white is black.
So much the better!--I may stand alone,
But would not change my free thoughts for a throne.[612]

FOOTNOTES:

{427}[562] [Berkeley did not deny the reality of existence, but the
reality of matter as an abstract conception. "It is plain," he says (_On
the Principles of Human Knowledge_, sect. ix.), "that the very notion of
what is called _matter_ or _corporeal substance_, involves a
contradiction in it." Again, "It were a mistake to think that what is
here said derogates in the least from the reality of things." His
contention was that this _reality_ depended, not on an abstraction
_called_ matter, "an inert, extended unperceiving substance," but on
"those unextended, indivisible substances or _spirits_, which act, and
think, and perceive them [unthinking beings]."--_Ibid._, sect. xci.,
_The Works_ of George Berkeley, D.D., 1820, i. 27, 69, 70.]

{428}[563] [_Tempest_, act v. sc. i, line 95.]

[564] ["I have been very unwell--four days confined to my bed in 'the
worst inn's worst room' at Lerici, with a violent rheumatic and bilious
attack, constipation, and the devil knows what."--Letter to Murray,
October 9, 1822, _Letters_, 1901, vi. 121. The same letter contains an
announcement that he had "a fifth [Canto of _Don Juan_] (the 10th)
finished, but not transcribed yet; and the _eleventh_ begun."]

{429}[kk] _Or Rome, or Tiber--Naples or the sea_.--[MS. erased.]

{430}[565] [_Vide ante_, Canto I. stanza xiv. lines 7, 8.]

{431}[566] ["_Falstaff_. Let us be Diana's foresters, gentlemen of the
shade, minions of the moon: and let men say, we be men of good
government; being governed, as the sea is, by our noble and chaste
mistress the moon, under whose countenance we--steal."-_I Henry IV._,
act i. sc. 2, lines 24-28.]

[567] [Gin. Hence the antithesis of _"All Max"_ in the East to Almack's
in the West. (See _Life in London_, by Pierce Egan, 1823, pp. 284-290.)]

[568] [According to the _Vocabulary of the Flash Language_, compiled by
James Hardy Vaux, in 1812, and published at the end of his Memoirs,
1819, ii. 149-227, a kiddy, or "flash-kiddy," is a thief of the lower
orders, who, when he is _breeched_ by a course of successful depredation
dresses in the extreme of vulgar gentility, and affects a knowingness in
his air and conversation. A "swell" or "rank swell" ("_real_ swell"
appears in Egan's _Life in London_) is the more recent "toff;" and
"flash" is "fly," "down," or "awake," _i.e._ knowing, not easily imposed
upon.]

{432}[569] [_Hamlet_, act v. sc. 1, line 21.]

[570] ["Ken" is a house, s.c. a thieves' lodging-house; "spellken," a
play-house; "high toby-spice" is robbery on horseback, as distinguished
from "spice," i.e. footpad robbery; to "flash the muzzle" is to show off
the face, to swagger openly; "blowing" or "blowen" is a doxy or trull;
and "nutty" is, conjointly, amorous and fascinating.]

[kl]
_Poor Tom was once a knowing one in town_.
_Not a mere_ kiddy, _but a_ real _one_.--[MS. erased.]

[571] The advance of science and of language has rendered it unnecessary
to translate the above good and true English, spoken in its original
purity by the select mobility and their patrons. The following is a
stanza of a song which was very popular at least in my early days:--


"On the high toby-spice flash the muzzle,
In spite of each gallows old scout;
If you at the spellken can't hustle,
You'll be hobbled in making a clout.
Then your blowing will wax gallows haughty,
When she hears of your scaly mistake,
She'll surely turn snitch for the forty--
That her Jack may be regular weight."

If there be any gemman so ignorant as to require a traduction, I refer
him to my old friend and corporeal pastor and master, John Jackson,
Esq., Professor of Pugilism; who, I trust, still retains the strength
and symmetry of his model of a form, together with his good humour, and
athletic as well as mental accomplishments.

[Gentleman Jackson was of good renown. "Servility," says Egan (_Life in
London_, 1823, p. 217), "is not known to him. Flattery he detests.
Integrity, impartiality, good-nature, and manliness, are the
corner-stones of his understanding." Byron once said of him that "his
manners were infinitely superior to those of the Fellows of the College
whom I meet at the high table" (J.W. Clark, _Cambridge_, 1890, p. 140).
(See, too, letter to John Jackson, September 18, 1808, _Letters_, 1898,
i. 189, note 2; _Hints from Horace_, line 638, _Poetical Works_, 1898,
i. 433, note 3.) As to the stanza quoted by Egan (_Anecdotes of the
Turf_, 1827, p. 44), but not _traduced_ or interpreted, "To be hobbled
for making a clout" is to be taken into custody for stealing a
handkerchief, to "turn snitch" is to inform, and the "forty" is the £40
offered for the detection of a capital crime, and shared by the police
or Bow Street runners. Dangerous characters were let alone and tacitly
encouraged to continue their career of crime, until the measure of their
iniquity was full, and they "weighed forty." If Jack was clumsy enough
to be detected in a trifling theft, his "blowen" would go over to the
enemy, and betray him for the sake of the Government reward (see
_Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue_, by Francis Grose, 1823,
art. "Weigh forty").]

{433}[572] [Don Juan must have driven by _Pleasant Row_, and passed
within hail of _Paradise Row_, on the way from Kennington to Westminster
Bridge. (See Cary's _New Pocket Plan of London, Westminster, and
Southwark_, 1819.) But, perhaps, there is more in the names of streets
and places than meets the eye. Here, as elsewhere, there is, or there
may be, "a paltering with us in a double sense."]

[km]
_Through rows called "Paradise," by way of showing_
_Good Christians that to which they all are going_.--[MS. erased.]

{434}[573] [Compare _Childe Harold_, Canto 1. stanza lxix. line 8, var.
ii., _Poetical Works_, 1899, ii. 66, note 2.]

[kn]---- _distilling into the re-kindling glass_.--[MS.]

[574] [The streets of London were first regularly lighted with gas in
1812.]

{435}[575] [Thomas Pennant, in _Some Account of London_, 1793, p. 444.
writes down the Mansion House (1739-1752) as "damned ... to everlasting
fame."]

[576] [Fifty years ago "the lights of Piccadilly" were still regarded as
one of the "sights" of London. Byron must often have looked at them from
his house in Piccadilly Terrace.]

[577] [Joseph François Foulon, army commissioner, provoked the penalty
of the "lantern" (i.e. an improvised gallows on the yard of a lamp-post
at the corner of the Rue de la Vannerie) by his heartless sneer, "Eh
bien! si cette canaille n'a pas de pain, elle mangera du foin." He was
hanged, July 22, 1789. See _The Tale of Two Cities_, by Charles Dickens,
cap. xxii.; see, too, Carlyle's _French Revolution_, 1839, i. 253: "With
wild yells, Sansculottism clutches him, in its hundred hands: he is
whirled ... to the _'Lanterne,'_ ... pleading bitterly for life,--to the
deaf winds. Only with the third rope (for two ropes broke, and the
quavering voice still pleaded), can he be so much as got hanged! His
Body is dragged through the streets; his Head goes aloft on a pike, the
mouth filled with grass: amid sounds as of Tophet, from a grass-eating
people."]

{436}[578] "Hells," gaming-houses. What their number may now be in this
life, I know not. Before I was of age I knew them pretty accurately,
both "gold" and "silver." I was once nearly called out by an
acquaintance, because when he asked me where I thought that his soul
would be found hereafter, I answered, "In Silver Hell."


[ko]
_At length the boys drew up before a door_,
_From whence poured forth a tribe of well-clad waiters_;
(_While on the pavement many a hungry w--re_
_With which the moralest of cities caters_
_For gentlemen whose passions may boil o'er,_
_Stood as the unpacking gathered more spectators,_)
_And Juan found himself in an extensive_
_Apartment;--fashionable but expensive_.--[MS.]

{437}[kp] _'Twas one of the delightfullest hotels_.--[MS.]

[579] [Perhaps Grillion's Hotel (afterwards Grillion's Club) in
Albemarle Street. In 1822 diplomats patronized more than one hotel in
and near St. James's Street, but among the "Departures from Grillion's
Hotel," recorded in the _Morning Chronicle_ of September, 17, 1822,
appositely enough, is that of H.E. Don Juan Garcia, del Rio.]

[kq]
---- _of his loves and wars_;
_And as romantic heads are pretty painters,_
_And ladies like a little spice of Mars_.--[MS. erased.]

{438}[kr] _The false attempt at Truth_----.--[MS.]

{439}[580] [Compare--

"Lo! Erin, thy Lord!
Kiss his foot with thy blessing"----

_The Irish Avatar_, stanza 14, _Poetical Works_, 1901, iv. 558.]

[ks]
_Kiss hands--or feet--or what Man by and by_
Will _kiss, not in sad metaphor--but earnest,_
_Unless on Tyrants' sterns--we turn the sternest_.--[MS.]

{440}[581] "Anent" was a Scotch phrase meaning "concerning"--"with
regard to: "it has been made English by the Scotch novels; and, as the
Frenchman said, "If it _be not, ought to be_ English." [See, for
instance, _The Abbot_, chap. xvii. 132.]

[kt]
_But "Damme's" simple--dashing--free and daring_
_The purest blasphemy_----.--[MS.]

[ku]
_About such general matters--but particular_
_A poem's progress should be perpendicular_.--[MS.]

{441}[582] [_Macbeth_, act iii. sc. 4, line 63.]

[kv] _Blushed, too, but it was hidden by their rouge_.--[MS. erased.]

[kw] _The natural and the prepared ceruse_.--[MS. erased.]

{442}[583] "Drapery Misses."--This term is probably anything now but a
_mystery_. It was, however, almost so to me when I first returned from
the East in 1811-1812. It means a pretty, a high-born, a fashionable
young female, well instructed by her friends, and furnished by her
milliner with a wardrobe upon credit, to be repaid, when married, by the
_husband_. The riddle was first read to me by a young and pretty
heiress, on my praising the "drapery" of the _"untochered"_ but "pretty
virginities" (like Mrs. Anne Page) of the _then_ day, which has now been
some years yesterday: she assured me that the thing was common in
London; and as her own thousands, and blooming looks, and rich
simplicity of array, put any suspicion in her own case out of the
question, I confess I gave some credit to the allegation. If necessary,
authorities might be cited; in which case I could quote both "drapery"
and the wearers. Let us hope, however, that it is now obsolete.

[584] [Compare _Hints from Horace_, line 173, _Poetical Works_, 1898, i.
401, note 1.]

{443}[585] [In his so-called "Dedication" of _Marino Faliero_ to Goethe,
Byron makes fun of the "nineteen hundred and eighty-seven poets," whose
names were to be found in _A Biographical Dictionary of Living Authors,
etc._ (See Introduction to _Marino Faliero, Poetical Works_, 1901, iv.
340, 341, note 1.)]

{444}[kx] _A paper potentate_----.--[MS. erased.]

[586] [See "Introduction to _Cain_," _Poetical Works_, 1901, v. 204.]

[ky] _With turnkey Southey for my Hudson Lowe._--[MS.]

[kz] _Beneath the reverend Cambyses Croly._--[MS.]

[587] [The Reverend George Croly, D.D. (1780-1860), began his literary
career as dramatic critic of the _Times_. "Croly," says H.C. Robinson
(_Diary_, 1869, i. 412), "is a fierce-looking Irishman, very lively in
conversation, and certainly has considerable talents as a writer; his
eloquence, like his person, is rather energetic than eloquent" (hence
the epithet "Cambyses," i.e. "King Cambyses' vein" in _var._ iii.). "He
wrote tragedies, comedies, and novels; and, at last, settled down as a
preacher, with the rank of doctor, but of what faculty I do not know"
(ibid., footnote, H.C.R., 1847). He wrote, _inter alia_, _Paris in
1815_, a poem; _Catiline, A Tragedy_, 1822; and _Salathiel_, a novel,
1827. In lines 7, 8, Byron seems to refer to _The Angel of the World, An
Arabian Poem_, published in 1820.]

[588] [_I Henry IV._, act ii. sc. 4, line 197.]

{445}[589] [Stanza lviii. was first published in 1837. The reference is
to Henry Hart Milman (1791-1868). Byron was under the impression that
Milman had influenced Murray against continuing the publication of _Don
Juan_. Added to this surmise, was the mistaken belief that it was Milman
who had written the article in the _Quarterly_, which "killed John
Keats." Hence the virulence of the attack.

"Dull Dorus" is obscure, but compare Propertius, _Eleg._ III. vii. 44,
where Callimachus is addressed as "Dore poeta." He is the "ox of verse,"
because he had been recently appointed to the Professorship of Poetry at
Oxford. The "roaring Romans" are "The soldiery" who shout "All, All," in
Croly's _Catiline_, act v. sc. 2.]

[la] _Then there's my gentle Barry--who they say._--[MS.]

[590] [Jeffrey, in his review of _A Sicilian Story, etc._, Bryan Waller
Procter (Barry Cornwall), 1787-1874 (_Edinburgh Review_, January, 1820,
vol. 33, pp. 144-155), compares _Diego de Montilla_, a poem in _ottava
rima_, with _Don Juan_, favourably and unfavourably: "There is no
profligacy and no horror ... no mocking of virtue and honour, and no
strong mixtures of buffoonery and grandeur." But it may fairly match
with Byron and his Italian models "as to the better qualities of
elegance, delicacy, and tenderness." See, too, _Blackwood's Edinburgh
Magazine_, March, 1820, vol. vi. pp. 153, 647.]

[591] [See Preface to the _Vision of Judgment, Poetical Works_, 1901,
iv. 484, note 3.]

[592] [Croker's article in the _Quarterly_ (April, 1818 [pub,
September], vol. xix. pp. 204-208) did not "kill John Keats." See letter
to George and Georgiana Keats, October, 1818 (_Letters, etc._, 1895, p.
215). Byron adopts Shelley's belief that the Reviewer, "miserable man,"
"one of the meanest," had "wantonly defaced one of the noblest specimens
of the workmanship of God." See Preface to _Adonais_, and stanzas
xxxvi., xxxvii.]

{446}[lb]
_And weakly mind, to let that all celestial Particle_.--[MS. erased.]
or, _'T is strange the mind should let such phrases quell its_
Chief Impulse with a few, frail, paper pellets_.--[MS. erased.]

[593] "Divinæ particulam auræ" [Hor., _Sat._ ii. 2. 79]

[594] [For "the crowd of usurpers" who started up in the reign of
Gallienus, and were dignified with the honoured appellation of "the
thirty tyrants," see Gibbon's _Decline and Fall_, 1825, i. 164.]

[595] [_King Lear_, act iv. sc. 6, line 15.]

{447}[596] ["Illita Nesseo misi tibi texta veneno."

Ovid., _Heroid. Epist_. ix. 163.]

[597] [A "bower," in Moore's phrase, signifies a solitude _à deux_; e.g.
"Here's the Bower she lov'd so much."

"Come to me, love, the twilight star
Shall guide thee to my bower."

Moore.]

{448}[598] [Compare _The Waltz_, lines 220-229, _et passim_, _Poetical
Works_, 1898, i. 501.]

{449}[599] Scotch for goblin.

[lc] _Handsome but_ blasé----[MS.]

{450}[600] [The sentiment is reiterated in _The Night Thoughts_, and is
the theme of _Resignation_, which was written and published when Young
was more than eighty years old. ]

[ld] _And fresher, since without a breath of air_.--[MS.]

[le] _Where are the thousand lovely innocents?_--[MS.]

[601] ["I have ... written ... to express my willingness to accept the,
or almost any mortgage, any thing to get out of the tremulous Funds of
these oscillating times. There will be a war somewhere, no doubt--and
whatever it may be, the Funds will be affected more or less; so pray get
us out of them with all proper expedition. It has been the burthen of my
song to you three years and better, and about as useful as better
counsels."--Letter of Byron to Kinnaird, January 18, 1823, _Letters_,
1901, vi. 162, 163.]

{451}[602] [For William Pole Tylney Long Wellesley (1788-1857), see _The
Waltz_, line 21, _Poetical Works_, 1898, i. 484, note 1. He was only
on the way to being "diddled" in 1822, but the prophecy (suggested, no
doubt, by the announcement of the sale of furniture, etc., at Wanstead
House, in the _Morning Chronicle_, July 8, 1822) was ultimately
fulfilled. Samuel Whitbread, born 1758, committed suicide July 6, 1815.
Sir Samuel Romilly, born 1758, committed suicide November 2, 1818.]

[603] [According to Charles Greville, George the Third made two
wills--the first in 1770, the second, which he never signed, in 1810. By
the first will he left "all he had to the Queen for her life, Buckingham
House to the Duke of Clarence," etc., and as Buckingham House had been
twice sold, and the other legatees were dead, a question arose between
the King and the Duke of York as to the right of inheritance of their
father's personal property. George IV. conceived that it devolved upon
him personally, and not on the Crown, and "consequently appropriated to
himself the whole of the money and the jewels." It is possible that this
difference between the brothers was noised abroad, and that old stories
of the destruction of royal wills were revived to the new king's
discredit. (See _The Greville Memoirs_, 1875, i. 64, 65.)]

[604] [See Moore's _Fum and Hum, the Two Birds of Royalty_, appended to
his _Fudge Family_.]

[605] [Lady Caroline Lamb and Lady Frances Wedderburn Webster.]

{452}[lf] ---- _their caps and curls at Dukes._--[MS.]

{453}[606] [The Congress at Verona, in 1822. See the Introduction to
_The Age of Bronze, Poetical Works_, 1891, v. 537-540.]

[607] [_2 Henry IV._, act iv. sc. 3, line 117.]

[608] [Hor., _Od._ I. xi. line 8.]

[609] [_Macbeth_, act v. sc. 5, line 24.]

[610] [_1 Henry IV._, act ii. sc. 4, line 463.]

[611] [See the _Secret Memoirs and Manners of several Persons of
Quality, of Both Sexes, from the New Atalantis_, 1709, a work in which
the authoress, Mrs. Manley, satirizes the distinguished characters of
her day. Warburton (_Works of Pope_, ed. 1751, i. 244) calls it "a
famous book.... full of court and party scandal, and in a loose
effeminacy of style and sentiment, which well suited the debauched taste
of the better vulgar." Pope also alludes to it in the _Rape of the
Lock_, iii. 165, 166--

"As long as _Atalantis_ shall be read.
Or the small pillow grace a lady's bed."

And Swift, in his ballad on "Corinna" (stanza 8)--

"Her common-place book all gallant is,
Of scandal now a cornucopia,
She pours it out in _Atalantis_,
Or memoirs of the New Utopia."

_Works_, 1824, xii. 302.]

{454}[612] [Oct. 17, 1822.--MS.]

Lord George Gordon Byron