Difficile est proprie communia dicere.

HOR. Epist. ad Pison.

Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more Cakes and Ale?-Yes, by St. Anne, and Ginger shall be hot i' the mouth, too!-SHAKSPEARE, Twelfth Night; or What you Will.




Ì WANT a hero :-an uncommon want,

When every year and month sends forth a new one, Till, after cloying the gazettes with cant,

The age discovers he is not the true one :

Of such as these I should not care to vaunt,

I'll therefore take our ancient friend Don Juan;

We all have seen him in the pantomime

Sent to the devil somewhat ere his time.


Vernon, the butcher Cumberland, Wolfe, Hawke,
Prince Ferdinand, Granby, Burgoyne, Keppel, Howe,
Evil and good, have had their tithe of talk,

And fill'd their sign-posts then, like Wellesley now; Each in their turn, like Banquo's monarchs, stalk, Followers of fame, "nine farrow" of that sow : France, too, had Buonaparte and Dumourier, Recorded in the Moniteur and Courier.

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Barnave, Brissot, Condorcet, Mirabeau,

Petion, Clootz, Danton, Marat, La Fayette,
Were French, and famous people, as we know;
And there were others, scarce forgotten yet,
Joubert, Hoche, Marceau, Lannes, Desaix, Moreau,
With many of the military set,

Exceedingly remarkable at times,
But not at all adapted to my rhymes.


Nelson was once Britannia's god of war,

And still should be so, but the tide is turn'd;
There's no more to be said of Trafalgar,
'T is with our hero quietly inurn'd,
Because the army 's grown more popular,

At which the naval people are concern'd;
Besides, the prince is all for the land-service,
Forgetting Duncan, Nelson, Howe, and Jervis.


Brave men were living before Agamemnon,1
And since, exceeding valorous and sage,

A good deal like him too, though quite the same none,
But then they shone not on the poet's page,
And so have been forgotten :-I condemn none,
But can't find any in the present age

Fit for my poem (that is, for my new one);
So, as I said, I'll take my friend Don Juan.


Most epic poets plunge in medias res"

(Horace makes this the heroic turnpike road), And then your hero tells, whene'er you please, What went before-by way of episode,

While seated after dinner at his ease,

Beside his mistress in some soft abode,

Palace or garden, paradise or cavern,
Which serves the happy couple for a tavern.


That is the usual method, but not mine-
My way is to begin with the beginning;
The regularity of my design

Forbids all wandering as the worst of sinning,
And therefore I shall open with a line

(Although it cost me half an hour in spinning),

Narrating somewhat of Don Juan's father,
And also of his mother, if you 'd rather.


In Seville was he born, a pleasant city,
Famous for oranges and women-he
Who has not seen it will be much to pity,

So says the proverb-and I quite agree;
Of all the Spanish towns is none more pretty,
Cadiz perhaps, but that you soon may see:
Don Juan's parents lived beside the river,
A noble stream, and call'd the Guadalquiver.

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