Wounded and fetter'd, "cabin'd, cribb'd, confin'd,"
Some days and nights elapsed before that he
Could altogether call the past to mind;

And when he did, he found himself at sea,
Sailing six knots an hour before the wind:

The shores of Ilion lay beneath their lee-
Another time he might have liked to see 'em,
But now was not much pleased with Cape Sigæum.


There, on the green and village-cotted hill, is
(Flank'd by the Hellespont and by the sea)
Entomb'd the bravest of the brave, Achilles;
They say so- —(Briant says the contrary) —
And further downward, tall and towering, still is

The tumulus-of whom?-Heaven knows; 't may be Patroclus, Ajax, or Protesilaus,

All heroes who, if living still, would slay us.


High barrows, without marble or a name,
A vast, untill'd, and mountain-skirted plain,
And Ida in the distance, still the same,

And old Scamander (if 't is he), remain ;
The situation seems still form'd for fame-

A hundred thousand men might fight again With ease; but where I sought for Ilion's walls, The quiet sheep feeds, and the tortoise crawle


Troops of untended horses; here and there
Some little hamlets with new names uncouth;
Some shepherds (unlike Paris), led to stare
A moment at the European youth

Whom to the spot their school-boy feelings bear;

A Turk, with beads in hand and pipe in mouth, Extremely taken with his own religion,

A what I found there-but the devil a Phrygian!


Don Juan, here permitted to emerge

From his dull cabin, found himself a slave ;
Forlorn, and gazing on the deep blue surge,
O'ershadow'd there by many a hero's grave:
Weak still with loss of blood, he scarce could urge
A few brief questions; and the answers maxe
No very satisfactory information

About his past or present situation.


[ocr errors]

He saw some fellow-captives, who appear'd
To be Italians as they were in fact;
From them, at least, their destiny he heard,
Which was an odd one; a troop going to act
In Sicily-all singers, duly rear'd

In their vocation,-had not been attack'd,
In sailing from Livorno, by the pirate,
But sold by the impresario at no high rate.3


By one of these, the buffo of the party,
Juan was told about their curious case;

For, although destined to the Turkish mart, he
Still kept his spirits up-at least his face;
The little fellow really looked quite hearty,

And bore him with some gaiety and grace,
Showing a much more reconciled demeanour
Than did the prima donna and the tenor.


In a few words he told their hapless story,
Saying, "Our Machiavelian impresario,
Making a signal off some promontory,

Hail'd a strange brig; Corpo di Caio Mario!
We were transferr'd on board her in a hurry,
Without a single scudo of salario ;

But, if the sultan has a taste for song,
We will revive our fortunes before long.


"The prima donna, though a little old,
And haggard with a dissipated life,
And subject, when the house is thin, to cold,

Has some good notes; and then the tenor's wife,

With no great voice, is pleasing to behold;

Last carnival she made a deal of strife

By carrying off Count Cæsar Cicogna
From an old Roman princess at Bologna.


“And then there are the dancers; there's the Nini,
With more than one profession gains by all;
Then there's that laughing slut, the Pellegrini,
She too was fortunate last carnival,

And made at least five hundred good zecchini,
But spends so fast, she has not now a paul ;
And then there 's the Grotesca-such a dancer!
Where men have souls or bodies she must answer.


"As for the figuranti, they are like

The rest of all that tribe; with here and there
A pretty person, which perhaps may strike,
The rest are hardly fitted for a fair;

There's one, though tall and stiffer than a pike,
Yet has a sentimental kind of air,

Which might go far, but she don't dance with vigour ;
The more 's the pity, with her face and figure.


"As for the men, they are a middling set; The musico is but a crack'd old basin, But being qualified in one way yet,

May the seraglio do to set his face in,
And as a servant some preferment get;

His singing I no further trust can place in :
From all the pope makes yearly, 't would perplex
To find three perfect pipes of the third sex.


"The tenor's voice is spoilt by affectation,
And for the bass, the beast can only bellow;
In fact, he had no singing education,

An ignorant, noteless, timeless, tuneless fellow;
But being the prima donna's near relation,

Who swore his voice was very rich and mellow, They hired him, though to hear him you'd believe An ass was practising récitative.


"'T would not become myself to dwell upon

My own merits, and, though young-I see, sir-you Have got a travell'd air, which shows you one

To whom the opera is by no means new :

You've heard of Raucocanti?-I'm the man ;

The time may come when you may hear me too;

You was not last year at the fair of Lugo,

But next, when I'm engaged to sing there-do go.


"Our baritone I almost had forgot,

A pretty lad, but bursting with conceit; With graceful action, science not a jot,

A voice of no great compass, and not sweet, He always is complaining of his lot,

Forsooth, scarce fit for ballads in the street; In lovers' parts his passion more to breathe, Having no heart to show, he shows his teeth."


Here Raucocanti's eloquent recital
Was interrupted by the pirate crew,
Who came at stated moments to invite all

The captives back to their sad births: each threw
A rueful glance upon the waves (which bright all
From the blue skies derived a double blue,
Dancing all free and happy in the sun),
And then went down the hatchway one by one.


They heard, next day, that in the Dardanelles,
Waiting for his sublimity's firman—
The most imperative of sovereign spells,

Which every body does without who can,—
More to secure them in their naval cells,
Lady to lady, well as man to man,
Were to be chain'd and lotted out per couple
For the slave-market of Constantinople.


It seems when this allotment was made out,
There chanced to be an odd male and odd female,
Who (after some discussion and some doubt
If the soprano might be doom'd to be male,
They placed him o'er the women as a scout)
Were link'd together, and it happen'd the male
Was Juan, who-an awkward thing at his age-
Pair'd off with a Bacchante's blooming visage.


With Raucocanti lucklessly was chain'd

The tenor; these two hated with a hate
Found only on the stage, and each more pain'd
With this his tuneful neighbour than his fate;
Sad strife arose, for they were so cross-grain'd,
Instead of bearing up without debate,

That each pull'd different ways with many an oath,
Arcades ambo," id est-blackguards both,


Juan's companion was a Romagnole,
But bred within the March of old Ancona,


eyes that look'd into the very soul

(And other chief points of a "bella donna"),

Bright—and as black and burning as a coal;

And through her clear brunette complexion shone a

Great wish to please-a most attractive dower,

Especially when added to the power.


But all that power was wasted upon him,

For sorrow o'er each sense held stern command; Her eye might flash on his, but found it dim; And though thus chain'd, as natural her hand Touch'd his, nor that-nor any handsome limb

(And she had some not easy to withstand) Could stir his pulse, or make his faith feel brittle; Perhaps his recent wounds might help a little.

[blocks in formation]

No matter; we should ne'er too much inquire,
But facts are facts :-no knight could be more true,
And firmer faith no ladye-love desire ;

We will omit the proofs, save one or two.
'T is said no one in hand "can hold a fire
By thought of frosty Caucasus," but few
I really think; yet Juan's then ordeal
Was more triumphant, and not much less real.


Here I might enter on a chaste description,
Having withstood temptation in my youth,.
But hear that several people take exception

At the first two books having too much truth ;
Therefore I'll make Don Juan leave the ship soon,
Because the publisher declares, in sooth,
Through needles' eyes it easier for the camel is
To pass, than those two cantos into families.


"T is all the same to me, I'm fond of yielding, And therefore leave them to the purer page

Of Smollet, Prior, Ariosto, Fielding,

Who say strange things for so correct an age.

I once had great alacrity in wielding

My pen, and liked poetic war to wage,

And recollect the time when all this cant

Would have provoked remarks which now it shan't.


As boys love rows, my boyhood liked a squabble;
But at this hour I wish to part in peace,
Leaving such to the literary rabble,

Whether my verse's fame be doom'd to cease,
While the right hand which wrote it still is able,
Or of some centuries to take a lease;

The grass upon my grave will grow as long,
And sigh to midnight winds, but not to song.

« VorigeDoorgaan »