Note 6. Stanza lxxxvi.

For that with me 's a " sine qua."

Subauditur Non, omitted for the sake of euphony.

Note 7. Stanza xcvi.

In short upon that subject I've some qualms very

Like those of the philosopher of Malmsbury.

Hobbes; who, doubting of his own soul, paid that compliment to the souls of other people as to decline their visits, of which he had some apprehension.



THE antique Persians taught three useful things,-
To draw the bow, to ride, and speak the truth.
This was the mode of Cyrus-best of kings—
A mode adopted since by modern youth.
Bows have they, generally with two strings;
Horses they ride without remorse or ruth;
At speaking truth perhaps they are less clever,
But draw the long-bow better now than ever.


The cause of this effect, or this defect,—
"For this effect defective comes by cause,"
Is what I have not leisure to inspect;

But this I must say in my own applause,
Of all the Muses that I recollect,

Whate'er may be her follies or her flaws
In some things, mine 's beyond all contradiction
The most sincere that ever dealt in fiction.


And as she treats all things, and ne'er retreats
From any thing, this epic will contain

A wilderness of the most rare conceits,

Which you might elsewhere hope to find in vain. 'T is true there be some bitters with the sweets, Yet mix'd so slightly that you can't complain, But wonder they so few are, since my "De rebus cunctis et quibusdam aliis."


tale is

But of all truths which she has told, the most

True is that which she is about to tell.

I said it was a story of a ghost—

What then? I only know it so befel.

Have you explored the limits of the coast,

Where all the dwellers of the earth must dwell? 'T is time to strike such puny doubters dumb as The sceptics who would not believe Columbus.


Some people would impose now with authority,
Turpin's or Monmouth Geoffry's Chronicle;
Men whose historical superiority

Is always greatest at a miracle.

But Saint Augustine has the great priority,
Who bids all men believe the impossible,
Because 't is so. Who nibble, scribble, quibble, lie
Quiets at once with "quia impossibile."


And therefore, mortals, cavil not at all;
Believe if 't is improbable, you must;
And if it is impossible, you shall:


'T is always best to take things upon trust. I do not speak profanely to recal

Those holier mysteries, which the wise and just Receive as gospel, and which grow more rooted, As all truths must, the more they are disputed.


I merely mean to say what Johnson said,

That in the course of some six thousand years,
All nations have believed that from the dead
A visitant at intervals appears;

And what is strangest upon this strange head,
Is that whatever bar the reason rears

'Gainst such belief, there's something stronger still In its behalf, let those deny who will.


The dinner and the soirée too were done,

The supper too discuss'd, the dames admired, The banqueters had dropp'd off one by one— The song was silent, and the dance expired: The last thin petticoats were vanish'd, gone,

Like fleecy clouds into the sky retired, And nothing brighter gleam'd through the saloon Than dying tapers-and the peeping moon.


The evaporation of a joyous day

Is like the last glass of champagne, without
The foam which made its virgin bumper gay;
Or like a system coupled with a doubt;
Or like a soda-bottle when its spray
Has sparkled and let half its spirit out;
Or like a billow left by storms behind,
Without the animation of the wind;


Or like an opiate which brings troubled rest,
Or none; or like-like nothing that I know
Except itself;-such is the human breast;

A thing, of which similitudes can show
No real likeness,—like the old Tyrian vest
Dyed purple, none at present can tell how,
If from a shell-fish or from cochineal.'
So perish every tyrant's robe piece-meal!


But next to dressing for a rout or ball,
Undressing is a woe; our robe de chambre
May sit like that of Nessus and recal

Thoughts quite as yellow, but less clear than amber. Titus exclaim'd, "I've lost a day!" Of all

The nights and days most people can remember (I've had of both, some not to be disdain'd), I wish they'd state how many they have gain'd.


And Juan, on retiring for the night,

Felt restless, and perplexed, and compromised;
He thought Aurora Raby's eyes more bright
Than Adeline (such is advice) advised;
If he had known exactly his own plight,

He probably would have philosophised;
A great resource to all, and ne'er denied
Till wanted; therefore Juan only sigh'd.


He sigh'd :—the next resource is the full moon,
Where all sighs are deposited; and now
It happen'd luckily, the chaste orb shone
As clear as such a climate will allow;
And Juan's mind was in the proper tone

To hail her with the apostrophe-"Oh, thou!"

Of amatory egotism the tuism,

Which further to explain would be a truism.


But lover, poet, or astronomer,

Shepherd, or swain, whoever may behold, Feel some abstraction when they gaze on her:

Great thoughts we catch from thence (besides a cold

Sometimes, unless my feelings rather err);

Deep secrets to her rolling light are told;

The ocean's tides and mortals' brains she sways,
And also hearts, if there be truth in lays.


Juan felt somewhat pensive, and disposed
For contemplation rather than his pillow;
The gothic chamber, where he was enclosed,
Let in the rippling sound of the lake's billow,
With all the mystery by midnight caused;

Below his window waved (of course) a willow;
And he stood gazing out on the cascade,
That flash'd and after darken'd in the shade.


Upon his table or his toilet-which

Of these is not exactly ascertain'd—
(I state this, for I'm cautious to a pitch
Of nicety, where a fact is to be gain'd)
A lamp burn'd high, while he leant from a niche,
Where many a gothic ornament remain'd,
In chisell❜d stone and painted glass, and all
That time has left our fathers of their hall.


Then, as the night was clear though cold, he threw
His chamber-door wide open-and went forth
Into a gallery, of a sombre hue,

Long, furnish'd with old pictures of great worth,
Of knights and dames heroic and chaste too,

As doubtless should be people of high birth. But by dim lights the portraits of the dead Have something ghastly, desolate, and dread.


The forms of the grim knights and pictured saints
Look living in the moon; and as you turn
Backward and forward to the echoes faint

Of your own footsteps-voices from the urn
Appear to wake, and shadows wild and quaint

Start from the frames which fence their aspects stern,

As if to ask how can you dare to keep

A vigil there, where all but death should sleep.


And the pale smile of beauties in the grave,
The charms of other days, in starlight gleams
Glimmer on high; their buried locks still wave
Along the canvas; their eyes glance like dreams
On ours, or spars within some dusky cave,

But death is imaged in their shadowy beams.
A picture is the past; e'en ere its frame
Be gilt, who sate hath ceased to be the same.

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