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And you at Rome would do as Romans do, Sighs wishes, wishes words, and words a letter,
Who do such things because they know no better If Protestant, or sickly, or a woman,
And then, God knows, what mischief may arise, Would rather dine in sin on a ragout
When love links two young people in one fetter, Dine and be d-d! I don't mean to be coarse, Vile assignations, and adulterous beds, But that's the penalty, to say no worse.
Elopements, broken vows, and hearts, and heads.
XVII. Of all the places where the Carnival
Shakspeare described the sex in Desdemona Was most facetious in the days of yore,
As very fair, but yet suspect in fame,
And masque, and mine, and mystery, and more Such matters may be probably the same,
Except that since those times was never known a Venice the bell from every city bore,
Husband whom mere suspicion could inflame And at the moment when I fix my story
To suffocate a wife no more than twenty,
Because she had a "cavalier servente."
Their jealousy (if they are ever jealous) Black eyes, arch'd brows, and sweet expressions Is of a fair complexion altogether,
Not like that sooty devil of Othello's, Such as of old were copied from the Grecians,
Which smothers women in a bed of feather, In ancient arts by moderns mimick'd ill ;
But worthier of these much more jolly fellows, And like so many Venuses of Titian's,
When weary of the matrimonial tether, (The best's at Florence-see it, if ye will,) His head for such a wife no mortal bothers, They look when leaning over the balcony,
But takes at once another, or another's
Didst ever see a gondola ? For fear
You should not, I'll describe it you exactly: And when you to Manfrini's palace go,
'Tis a long cover'd boat that's common here, That picture (howsoever fine the rest)
Carved at the prow, built lightly, but compactly, Is loveliest to my mind of all the show;
Row'd by two rowers, each callid “Gondolier," It may perhaps be also to your zest,
It glides along the water looking blackly, And that's the cause I rhyme upon it so ;
Just like a coffin clapt in a canoe, 'Tis but the portait of his son, and wife,
Where none can make out what you say or do. And self; but such a woman! love in life.
And up and down the long canals they go,
And under the Rialto shoot along,
By night and day, all paces, swift or slow,
And round the theatres, a sable throng,
But not to them do woful things belong,
For sometimes they contain a deal of fun, You once have seen but ne'er will see again;
Like mourning coaches when the funeral's done.
XXI. One of those forms which flit by us, when we
But to my story.--'Twas some years ago, Are young, and fix our eyes on every face ;
It may be thirty, forty, more or less, And, Oh! the loveliness at times we see
The carnival was at its height, and so In momentary gliding, the soft grace,
Were all kinds of buffoonery and dress ; The youth, the bloom, the beauty which agree,
A certain lady went to see the show, In many a nameless being we retrace,
Her real name I know not, nor can guess,
Because it slips into my verse with ease.
She was not old, nor young, nor at the years Venetian women were, and so they are,
Which certain people call a “ certain age,' Particularly seen from a balcony,
Which yet the most uncertain age appears, (For beauty's sometimes best set off afar,) Because I never heard, nor could engage And there, just like a heroine of Goldoni, A person yet by prayers, or bribes, or tears,
They peep from out the blind, or o'er the bar; To name, define by speech, or write on page,
XXX. Laura was blooming still, had made the best She chose, (and what is there they will not choose
of time, and time return'd the compliment, If only you will but oppose their choice ?) And treated her genteelly, so that, drest, Till Beppo should return from his long cruise,
She look'd extremely well where'er she went: And bid once more her faithful heart rejoice, A pretty woman is a welcome guest,
A man some women like, and yet abuse And Laura's brow a frown had rarely bent, A coxcomb was he by the public voice; Indeed she shone all smiles, and seem'd to flatter A count of wealth, they said, as well as quality, Mankind with her black eyes for looking at her. And in his pleasures of great liberality.
Music, and dancing, fiddling, French, and Tuscan,
For few Italians speak the right Etruscan. (Unless within the period intervenient
He was a critic upon operas, too, A well-timed wedding makes the scandal cool) And knew all niceties of the sock and buskin; I don't know how they ever can get over it, And no Venetian audience could endure a Except they manage never to discover it.
Song, scene, or air, when he cried “ seccatura XXV.
XXXII. Her husband sail'd upon the Adriatic,
" bravo was decisive, for that sound And made some voyages, too, in other seas, Hush'd "academie" sigh'd in silent awe; And when he lay in quarantine for pratique, The fiddlers trembled as he look'd around,
(A forty days' precaution 'gainst disease,) For fear of some false note's detected flaw; His wife would mount, at times, her highest attic, The “prima donna's" tuneful heart would bound,
For thence she could discern the ship with ease : Dreading the deep damnation of his “bah ! He was a merchant trading to Aleppo,
Soprano, basso, even the contra-alto,
He patronized the Improvisatori, Sunburnt with travel, yet a portly figure;
Nay, could himself extemporize some stanzas, Though color'd, as it were, within a tanyard, Wrote rhymes, sang songs, could also tell a story,
He was a person both of sense and vigor- Sold pictures, and was skilful in the dance as A better seaman never yet did man yard :
Italians can be, though in this their glory [has; And she, although her manners show'd no rigor, Must surely yield the palm to that which France Was deem'd a woman of the strictest principle, In short, he was a perfect cavaliero, So much as to be thought almost invincible. And to his very valet seem'd a hero. XXVII.
XXXIV. But several years elapsed since they had met; Then he was faithful, too, as well as amorous,
Some people thought the ship was lost, and some So that no sort of female could complain, That he had somehow blunder'd into debt, Although they're now and then a little clamorous,
And did not like the thought of steering home; He never put the pretty souls in pain ; And there were several offer'd any bet,
His heart was one of those which most enamour us Or that he would, or that he would not come, Wax to receive, and marble to retain. For most men (till by losing render'd sager) He was a lover of the good old school, Will back their own opinions with a wager. Who still become more constant as they cool. XXVIII.
XXXV. "Tis said that their last parting was pathetic, No wonder such an accomplishments should turn As partings often are, or ought to be,
A female head, however sage and steady And their presentiment was quite prophetic With scarce a hope that Beppo could return,
That they should never more each other see, In law he was almost as good as dead, he (A sort of morbid feeling, half poetic,
Nor sent, nor wrote, nor show'd the least concern,
That he's alive, he's dead, or should be so.
And thought of wearing weeds, as well she might; (Although, God knows, it is a grievous sin,' She almost lost all appetite for victual,
"Tis, I may say, permitted to have two men ; And could not sleep with ease alone at night; I can't tell who first brought the custom in, She deem'd the window-frames and shutters brittle But “Cavalier Serventes” are quite common, Against a daring housebreaker or sprite,
And no one notices, nor cares a pin;
XLIV. The word was formerly a " a “Cicisbeo,"
I love the language, that soft bastard Latin, But that is now grown vulgar and indecent; Which melts like kisses from a female mouth, The Spaniards call the person a "Cortejo,'' (recent; And sounds as if it should be writ on satin,
For the same mode subsists in Spain, though With syllables which breathe of the sweet South, In short it reaches from the Po to Teio,
And gentle liquids gliding all so pat in, And may perhaps at last be o'er the sea sent. That not a single accent seems uncouth, But Heaven preserve Old England from such Like our harsh northern whistling, grunting guttural, courses !
Which we're obliged to hiss, and spit, and sputter all Or what becomes of damage and divorces ?
I like the women too, (forgive my folly,)
From the rich peasant-cheek of ruddy bronze, To the fair single part of the creation,
And large black eyes that flash on you a volley That married ladies should preserve the preference Of rays that say a thousand things at once, In tête-a-tête or general conversation
To the high dama's brow, more melancholy, And this I say without peculiar reference
But clear, and with a wild and liquid glance, To England, France, or any other nation
Heart on her lips, and soul within her eyes,
Soft as her clime, and sunny as her skies.
Eve of the land which still is Paradise ! "Tis true your budding Miss is very charming, But shy and awkward at first coming out,
Italian beauty! didst thou not inspire So much alarm'd that she is quite alarming,
Raphael,+ who died in thy embrace, and vies All Giggle, Blush; half Pertness, and half Pout;). With all we know of Heaven, or can desire, And glancing at Mamma, for fear there's harm in 'In what he hath bequeath'd us :—in what guise, What you, she, it, or they may be about,
Though flashing from the fervor of the lyre, The Nursery still lisps out in all they utter
Would words describe thy past and present glow, Besides, they always smell of bread and butter.
While yet Canova can create below ? *
"England! with all thy faults I love thee still," Used in politest circles to express
I said at Calais, and have not forgot it; This supernumerary slave, who stays
I like to speak and lucubate my fill ; Close to the lady as a part of dress,
I like the government, (but that is not it;) Her word the only law which he obeys.
I like the freedom of the press and quill ; His is no sinecure, as you may guess;
I like the Habeas Corpus, (when we've got it;) Coach, servants, gondola, he goes to call, I like a parliamentary debate, And carries fan and tippet, gloves and shawl. Particularly when 'tis not too late ; XLI.
XLVIII. With all its sinful doings, I must say,
I like the taxes, when they're not too many; That Italy's a pleasant place to me,
I like a sea-coal fire, when not too dear ; Who love to see the Sun shine every day,
I like a beef-steak, too, as well as any; And vines (not nail'd to walls) from tree to tree
Have no objection to a pot of beer; Festoon'd, much like the back scene of a play,
I like the weather, when it is not rainy, Or melodrame, which people flock to see,
That is, I like two months of every year. When the first act is ended by a dance
And so God save the Regent, Church, and King. In vineyards copied from the south of France.
Which means that I like all and every thing. XLII. I like on Autumn evenings to ride out,
XLIX. Without being forced to bid my groom be sure Our standing army, and disbanded seamen, My cloak is round his middle strapp'd about, Poor's rate, Reform, my own, the nation's debt,
Because the skies are not the most secure; Our little riots just to show we are free men, I know too that, if stopp'd upon my route,
Our triffing bankruptcies in the Gazette,
And wish they were not owing the Tories.
(In talking thus, the writer, more especially Not through a misty morning twinkling weak as
Of women, would be understood lomy,
He speaks as a spectator, not officially, A drunken man's dead eye in maudlin sorrow,
And alwaye, reader, in a modest way; But with all Heaven t' himself; that day will break as
Perhaps, tou, in no very great degree shall be Beauteous as cloudless, nor be forced to borrow
Appear to have offended in this lay,
Since, as all know, without the sex, our sonnet That sort of farthing candlelight which glimmers
Would seem unfinish'd like their uptrimm'd bonneta) Where reeking London's smoky caldron simmers.
LVII. But to my tale of Laura,- for I find
Laura, when drest, was (as I sang before) Digression is a sin, that by degrees
A pretty woman as was ever seen, Becomes exceeding tedious to my mind,
Fresh as the Angel o'er a new inn door, And, therefore, may the reader too displease Or frontispiece of a new Magazine, The gentle reader, who may wax unkind,
With all the fashions which the last month wore, And caring little for the author's ease,
Color'd, and silver paper leaved between Insist on knowing what he means, a hard That and the title-page, for fear the press And hapless situation for a bard.
Should soil with parts of speech the parts of dress LI.
LVIII. Oh that I had the art of easy writing
They went to the Ridotto ;-'tis a hall What should be easy reading! could I scale Where people dance, and sup, and dance again; Parnassus, where the Muses sit inditing
Its proper name, perhaps, were a masqued ball, Those pretty poems, never known to fail,
But that's of no importance to my strain; How quickly would I print, (the world delighting,) 'Tis (on a smaller scale) like our Vauxhall, A Grecian, Syrian, or Assyrian tale:
Excepting that it can't be spoilt by rain: And sell you, mix'd with western sentimentalism, The company is “mix'd,” (the phrase I quote is Some samples of the first Orientalism.
As much as saving, they're below your notice ;) LII.
LIX. But I am but a Lameless sort of person,
For a “mix'd company” implies that, save (A broken Dandy lately on my travels,)
Yourself and friends, and half a hundred more, And take for rhyme, to hook my rambling verse on, Whom you may bow to without looking grave, The first that Walker's Lexicon unravels,
The rest are but a vulgar set, the bore And when I can't find that, I put a worse on, of public places, where they basely brave Not caring as I ought for critics' cavils;
The fashionable stare of twenty score
Which lasted, as arrangements sometimes do, During the dynasty of Dandies, now
Of imitated imitators :-how
The demagogues of fashion: all below
As happy as unlawful love could make them; Who knock'd his army down with icy hammer, The gentleman was fond, the lady fair,
Stopp'd by the elements, like a whaler, or Their chains so slight, 'twas not worth while to A blundering novice in his new French grammar; break them:
Good cause had he to doubt the chance of war, The world beheld them with indulgent air ;
And as for Fortune-but I dare not den her, The pious only wish'd “the devil take them!” Because, were I to ponder to infinity, He took them not; he very often waits,
The more I should believe in her divinity.
She rules the present, past, and all to be yet,
Would love be! What would youth be without love! I cannot say that she's done much for me yet; Youth lends it joy, and sweetness, vigor, truth, Nor that I mean her bounties to disparago,
Heart, soul, and all that seems as from above; We've not yet closed accounts, and we shall see yet But, languishing with years, it grows uncouth- How much she'll make amends for past miscar. 'One of few things experience don't improve,
riage; Which is, perhaps, the reason why old fellows Meantime the goddess I'll no more importune, Are always so preposterously jealous.
Unless to thank her when she's made my fortune. LVI.
LXIII. It was the Carnival, as I have said
To turn,--and to return ;-the devil take it! Some six and thirty stanzas back, and so
This story slips for ever through my fingers, Laura the usual preparations made,
Because, just as the stanza likes to make it, Which you do when your mind's made up to go It needs must bemand so it rather lingers; To-night to Mrs. Bochm's masquerade,
This form of verse began, I can't well break it, Spectator, or partaker in the show;
But must keep time and tune like public singers The only difference known between the cases But if I once get through my present measure, Is -here, we have six weeks of "varnish'd faces.” 'I'll take another when I'm next at leisure.
LXXI. They went to the Ridotto, ('tis a place
They lock them up, and veil, and guard them daily To which I mean to go myself to-morrow, They scarcely can behold their male relations, Just to divert my thoughts a little space,
So that their moments do not pass so gaily Because I'm rather hippish, and may borrow As is supposed the case with northern nations; Some spirits, guessing at what kind of face Confinement, too, must make them look quite palely
May lurk beneath each mask, and as my sorrow And as the Turks abhor long conversations, Slackens its pace sometimes, I'll make, or find, Their days are either past in doing nothing, Something shall leare it half an hour behind.) Or bathing, nursing, making love, and clothing. LXV.
LXXII. Now Laura moves along the joyous crowd, They cannot read, and so don't lisp in criticism; Smiles in her eyes, and simpers on her lips; Nor write, and so they don't affect the muse; To some she whispers, others speaks aloud; Were never caught in epigram or witticism,
To some she curtsies, and to some she dips, Have no romances, sermons, plays, reviews, Complains of warmth, and this complaint avow'd, In harams learning soon would make a pretty schism Her lover brings the lemonade, she sips;
But luckily these beauties are no “blues," She then surveys, condemns, but pities still No bustling Botherbys have they to show 'em Her dearest friends for being drest so ill.
“ That charming passage in the last new poem." LXVI.
A third-where did she buy that frightful turban? Who having angled all his life for fame,
A fifth's look’s vulgar, dowdyish, and suburban, Still fussily keeps fishing on, the same
A seventh's thin muslin surely will be her bane, Of mediocrity, the furious tame,
[law Others were levelling their looks at her;
The approving “Good!” (by no means good in She beard the men's half-whisper'd mode of praising, Humming like flies around the newest blaze,
And, till 'twas done, determined not to stir ; The bluest of bluebottles you e'er saw,
Gorging the little fame he gets all raw,
Translating tongues he knows not even by letter, Those brazen ereatures always suit their taste. And sweating plays so middling, bad were better. LXVIII.
So very anxious, clever, fine, and jealous,
One don't know what to say to them, or think, And if I were but in a gown and band,
Unless to puff them with a pair of bellows; Just to entitle me to make a fuss,
Of coxcombry's worst coxcombry e'en the pink I'd preach on this till Wilberforce and Romilly Are preferable to these shreds of paper, Should quote in their next speeches from my homily. These unquench'd snuffings of the midnight taper. LXIX.
LXXVI. While Laura thus was seen and seeing, smiling, Of these same we see several, and of others, Talking, she knew not why and cared not what, Men of the world, who know the world like men, So that her female friends, with envy broiling, Scott, Rogers, Moore, and all the better brothers,
Beheld her airs and triumph, and all that; Who think of something else besides the pen;
And passing bow'd and mingled with her chat; The would-be wits and can't-be gentlemen,
Smug coterie, and literary lady.
The poor dear Mussulwomen whom I mention And Laura saw him, and at first was glad,
Have none of these instructive pleasant people, Because the Turks so much admire philogyny, And one would seem to them a new invention, Although their usage of their wives is sad; Unknown as bells within a Turkish steeple; Tis said they use no better than a dog any I think 'twould almost be worth while to pension Poor woman, whom they purchase like a pad: (Though best-sown projects very often reap ill They have a number, though they ne'er exhibit 'em, A missionary author, just to preach Four wives by law, and concubines "ad libitum.” Our Christian usage of the parts of speech.