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And Juan was received, as hath been said,
But what, and where, with whom, and when, and why, Is not to be put hastily together;
And as my object is morality
(Whatever people say), I don't know whether I'll leave a single reader's eyelid dry,
But harrow up his feelings till they wither,
Here the twelfth canto of our introduction
Ends. When the body of the book 's begun,
You'll find it of a different construction
From what some people say 't will be when done: The plan at present 's simply in concoction.
I can't oblige you, reader! to read on;
And if my thunderbolt not always rattles,
That e'er were brew'd from elements or gore,
Besides the most sublime of-Heaven knows what else: An usurer could scarce expect much more—
my best canto, save one on astronomy,
Will turn upon "political economy."
That is your present theme for popularity:
Now that the public hedge hath scarce a stake,
It grows an act of patriotic charity,
To show the people the best way to break. My plan (but I, if but for singularity,
Reserve it) will be very sure to take.
Meantime read all the national debt-sinkers,
And tell me what you think of your great thinkers.
NOTES TO CANTO XII.
Note 1. Stanza xix.
Gives, with Greek truth, the good old Greek the lie.
See MITFORD's Greece. "Græcia Verax." His great pleasure consists in praising tyrants, abusing Plutarch, spelling oddly, and writing quaintly; and, what is strange after all, his is the best modern history of Greece in any language, and he is perhaps the best of all modern historians whatsoever. Having named his sins, it is but fair to state his virtues-learning, labour, research, wrath, and partiality. I call the latter virtues in a writer, because they make him write in earnest.
Note 2. Stanza xxxvii.
A hazy widower turn'd of forty 's sure.
This line may puzzle the commentators more than the present generation.
Note 3. Stanza lxxiii.
Like Russians rushing from hot baths to snows.
The Russians, as is well known, run out from their hot baths to plunge into the Neva: a pleasant practical antithesis, which it seems does them no harm.
Note 4. Stanza lxxxii.
-those northern lights
Which flash'd as far as where the musk-bull browses.
For a description and print of this inhabitant of the polar region and native country of the aurora boreales, see PARRY'S Voyage in search of a North-West Passage.
Note 5. Stanza lxxxvi.
As Philip's son proposed to do with Athos.
A sculptor projected to hew Mount Athos into a statue of Alexander, with a city in one hand, and, I believe, a river in his pocket, with various other similar devices. But Alexander's gone, and Athos remains, I trust, ere long, to look over a nation of freemen.
I NOW mean to be serious;-it is time,
Since laughter now-a-days is deem'd too serious. A jest at vice by virtue 's call'd a crime,
And critically held as deleterious :
Besides, the sad 's a source of the sublime,
The Lady Adeline Amundeville
('T is an old Norman name, and to be found In pedigrees by those who wander still
Along the last fields of that gothic ground)
Was high-born, wealthy by her father's will,
And beauteous, even where beauties most abound,
In Britain—which of course true patriots find
The goodliest soil of body and of mind.
I'll not gainsay them; it is not my cue;
I leave them to their taste, no doubt the best :
An eye 's an eye, and whether black or blue,
'T is nonsense to dispute about a hue
The kindest may be taken as a test.
The fair sex should be always fair; and no man, Till thirty, should perceive there's a plain woman.
And after that serene and somewhat dull
Epoch, that awkward corner turn'd for days More quiet, when our moon 's no more at full, We may presume to criticise or praise; Because indifference begins to lull
Our passions, and we walk in wisdom's ways; Also because the figure and the face
Hint, that 't is time to give the younger place.
I know that some would fain postpone this era,
Their post; but theirs is merely a chimera,
And is there not religion and reform,
the taxes, and what's call'd the "nation ?" The struggle to be pilots in a storm ?
The landed and the monied speculation? The joys of mutual hate to keep them warm, Instead of love, that mere hallucination ? Now hatred is by far the longest pleasure; Men love in haste, but they detest at leisure.
Rough Johnson, the great moralist, profess'd,
But neither love nor hate in much excess;
Though 't was not once so. If I sneer sometimes,
It is because I cannot well do less,
And now and then it also suits ray rhymes.
I should be very willing to redress
Men's wrongs, and rather check than punish crimes,
Had not Cervantes, in that too true tale
Of Quixote, shown how all such efforts fail.
Of all tales 't is the saddest and more sad,
Redressing injury, revenging wrong,
To aid the damsel and destroy the caitiff; Opposing singly the united strong,
From foreign yoke to free the helpless native;
Be for mere fancy's sport a theme creative?
Cervantes smiled Spain's chivalry away;
A single laugh demolish'd the right arm Of his own country;-seldom since that day
Has Spain had heroes. While romance could charm, The world gave ground before her bright array;
And therefore have his volumes done such harm,
That all their glory as a composition
Was dearly purchased by his land's perdition
I'm "at my old lunes "digression, and forget
The fair most fatal Juan ever met,
Although she was not evil nor meant ill!
But destiny and passion spread the net
(Fate is a good excuse for our own will),
And caught them; what do they not catch, methinks?
I tell the tale as it is told, nor dare
To venture a solution: "Davus sum!
And now I will proceed upon the pair.
Sweet Adeline, amidst the gay world's hum,
Was the queen-bee, the glass of all that 's fair;
Whose charms made all men speak, and women dumb.
The last 's a miracle, and such was reckon'd,
And since that time there has not been a second.
Chaste was she to detraction's desperation,