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.


The two first feelings ran their course complete,
And lighted first her eye and then her mouth :
The whole court look'd immediately most sweet,
Like flowers well water'd after a long drowth :-
But when on the lieutenant, at her feet,

Her majesty who liked to gaze on youth
Almost as much as on a new dispatch-
Glanced mildly, all the world was on the watch.


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.


With her the latter, though at times convenient,

Was not so necessary; for they tell

That she was handsome, and, though fierce, look'd 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; 6 for, though she would widow all Nations, she liked man as an individual.


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!


Oh Catherine! (for of all interjections

To thee both oh! and ah! belong of right, In love and war) how odd are the connexions

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 dispatch!


Shakspeare talks of "the herald Mercury
New lighted on a heaven-kissing hill;"
And some such visions cross'd her majesty,
While her young herald knelt before her still.
'T is very true the hill seem'd rather high
For a lieutenant to climb up; but skill

Smooth'd even the Simplon's steep, and, by God's blessing,
With youth and health all kisses are "heaven-kissing."


Her majesty look'd down, the youth look'd 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.


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"

('T is Pope's phrase) a great longing, though a rash one,

For one especial person out of many

Makes us believe ourselves as good as any.


Besides, he was of that delighted age

Which makes all females' 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 Quench'd in the lap of the salt sea, or Thetis.


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 look'd a sort of king,


up upon an amatory pattern

A royal husband in all save the ring—
Which, being the damn'dest part of matrimony,
Seem'd taking out the sting to leave the honey.


And when you add to this, her womanhood
In its meridian, her blue eyes, or gray—
(The last, if they have soul, are quite as good, #
Or better, as the best examples say:
Napoleon's, Mary's (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)—


Her sweet smile, and her then majestic figure,
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.


And that's enough, for love is vanity,
Selfish in its beginning as its end,
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.


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 lean'd less to improving The sound than sense)-besides all these pretences To love, there are those things which words name senses;


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.
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!


The noblest kind of love is love platonical,
To end or to begin with; the next grand
Is that which may be christen'd 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 call'd marriage in disguise.


Well, we won't analyse-our story must
Tell for itself the sovereign was smitten,
Juan much flatter'd by her love, or lust;-

I cannot stoop to alter words once written,

And the two are so mix'd 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.


The whole court melted into one wide whisper,
And all lips were applied unto all ears!
The elder ladies' wrinkles curl'd much crisper
As they beheld; the younger cast some leers

On one another, and each lovely lisper

Smiled as she talk'd the matter o'er; but tears
Of rivalship rose in each clouded eye
Of all the standing army who stood by.


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 roubles rain, as fast as specie can,
Upon his cabinet, besides the presents
Of several ribbons and some thousand peasants.



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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)—


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.


But when the levee rose, and all was bustle
In the dissolving circle, all the nations'
Ambassadors began as 't were to bustle

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.


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 unembarrass'd brow
Nature had written "gentleman." He said
Little, but to the purpose; and his manner
Flung hovering graces o'er him like a banner.


An order from her majesty consign'd

Our young lieutenant to the genial care

Of those in office: all the world look'd kind
(As it will look sometimes with the first stare,
Which youth would not act ill to keep in mind);
As also did Miss Protosoff then there,
Named, from her mystic office, "l'Eprouveuse,"
A term inexplicable to the Muse.

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