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Of time and tongues, the foster-babes of fame, Life seems the smallest portion of existence ;
Where twenty agés gather o'er a náme,
on the same, Even till an iceberg it may
chance to grow, – But after all 't is nothing but cold snow.
01. And so great names are nothing more than nominal,
And love of glory 's but an airy lust, Too often in its fury overcoming all
Who would, as 't were, identify their dust From out the wide destruction which, entombing all,
Leaves nothing till the coming of the just Save change : I've stood upon Achilles' tomb, And heard Troy doubted; time will doubt of Rome.
CII. The very generations of the dead
Are swept away, and tomb inherits tomb, Until the memory of an age is fled,
And, buried, sinks beneath its offspring's doom : Where are the epitaphs our fathers read?
Save a few glean'd from the sepulchral gloom, Which once-named myriads nameless lie beneath, And lose their own in üniversal death,
Where perish'd in his fame the hero-boy,
For human vanity, the young De Foix !
But which neglect is hastening to destroy,
A little cupola, more neat than solemn,
To the bard's tomb and not the warrior's column. The time must come when both, alike decay'd,
The chieftain's trophy and the poet's volume, Will sink where lie the songs and wars of earth, Before Pelides' death or Homer's birth.
With human filth that column is defiled,
To show his loathing of the spot he soild.
Should ever be those blood-hounds, from whose wild Instinct of gore and glory earth has known Those sufferings Dante saw in hell alone,
CVI. Yet there will still be bards; though fame is smoke,
Its fumes are frankincense to human thought; And the unquiet feelings, which first woke
Song in the world, will seek what then they sought; As on the beach the waves at last are broke,
Thus to their extreme verge the passions brought,
At once adventurous and contemplative,
Acquire the deep and bitter power to give Their images again as in a glass,
And in such colours that they seem to live ; You
may do right forbidding them to show 'em, But spoil (I think) a very pretty poem.
Benign ceruleans of the second sex!
Your “imprimatur” will ye pot annex ?
Those Cornish plunderers of Parnassian wrecks?
A ball-room bard, a foolscap, hot-press darling ?
And sigh“ I can't get out,” like Yorick's starling; Why then I'll swear, as poet Wordy swore
(Because the world won't read him, always snarling), That taste is gone, that fame is but a lottery, Drawn by the blue-coat misses of a coterię.
As some one somewhere sings about the sky,
They say your stockings are so (Heaven knows why, I have examined few pairs of that hue) ;
Blue as the garters which serenely lie Round the patrician left-legs, which adorn The festal midnight and the levee morn.
But times are alter'd since, a rhyming lover,
And—but no matter, all those things are over. .
For sometimes such a world of virtues cover :
The last, if late accounts be accurate,
As well as the sublime discovery's date,
To ascertain the atmospheric state,
With slaves to sell off in the capital,
At anchor under the seraglio wall :
Were landed in the market, one and all,
Some went off dearly ; fifteen hundred dollars
For one Circassian, a sweet girl, were given, Warranted virgin; beauty's brightest colours
Had deck'd her out in all the hues of heaven : Her sale sent home some disappointed bawlers,
Who hade on till the hundreds reach'd eleven; But when the offer went beyond, they knew ’T was for the sultan, and at once withdrew.
Which the West-Indian market scarce would bring ; Though Wilberforce, at last, has made it twice
What 't was ere abolition; and the thing Need not seem very wonderful, for vice
Is always much more splendid than a king : The virtues, even the most exalted, charity, Aro saving—vice spares nothing for a rarity.
How some were bought by pachas, some by Jews, How some to burdens were obliged to stoop,
And others rose to the command of crews, As renegadoes; while in hapless group,
Hoping no very old vizier might chuse, The females stood, as one by one they pick'd 'em, To make a mistress, or fourth wife, or victim.
Also our hero's lot, howe'er unpleasant (Because this canto has become too long),
Must be postponed discreetly for the present; I'm sensible redundancy is wrong,
But could not for the muse of me put less in 't : And now delay the progress of Don Juan, Till what is call'd in Ossian the fifth Duan.
NOTES TO CANTO IV.
Note 1. Stanza xii.
“Whom the gods love die young," was said of yore.
Note 2. Stanza lix.
A vein had burst. This is no very uncommon effect of the violence of conflicting and different passions. The Doge Francis Foscari, on his deposition, in 1457, hearing the bell of St. Mark announce the election of his successor, “ mourut subitement d'une hémorragie causée par une veine qui s'éclata dans sa poitrine." (See Sismondi and Daru, vols. i. and ï.), at the age of eighty years, when " who would have thought the old man had so much blood in him?” Before I was sixteen years of age, I was witness to a melancholy instance of the same effect of mixed passions ypon a young person; who, however, did not die in consequence, at that time, but fell a victim some years afterwards to a seizure of the same kind, arising from causes intimately connected with agitation of mind.
Note 3, Stanza lxxx.
But sold by the impresario at ng high fate. This is a fact. A few years ago a man engaged a company for some foreign theatre; embarked them at an Italian port, and, carrying them to Algiers, sold them all. One of the women, returned from her captivity, I heard șing, by a strange coincidence, in Rossini's opera of “L'Italiana in Algeri," at Venice, in the beginning of 1817.
Note 4. Stanza lxxxvi.
To find three perfect pipes of the third sex. It is strange that it should be the pope and the sultan who are the chief encouragers of this branch of trade-women being prohibited as singers at St. Peter's, and not deemed trust-worthy as guardians of the haram.
Note 5. Stanza ciïi.
While weeds and ordure rankle round the base. The pillar which records the battle of Ravenna is about two miles from the city, on the opposite side of the river to the road towards Forli. Gaston de Foix, who gained the battle, was killed in it; there fell on both sides twenty thousand men. The present state of the pillar and its site is described in the text.