Don Juan
"Canto the Ninth"
by George Gordon Lord Byron (1788-1824)


		1

1   Oh , Wellington! (or "Vilainton"---for Fame 
2      Sounds the heroic syllables both ways; 
3   France could not even conquer your great name, 
4      But punned it down to this facetious phrase--- 
5   Beating or beaten she will laugh the same)--- 
6      You have obtained great pensions and much praise; 
7   Glory like yours should any dare gainsay, 
8   Humanity would rise, and thunder "Nay!" 


		2

9   I don't think that you used Kinnaird quite well 
10      In MarinÍt's affair---in fact 'twas shabby, 
11   And like some other things won't do to tell 
12      Upon your tomb in Westminster's old abbey. 
13   Upon the rest 'tis not worth while to dwell, 
14      Such tales being for the tea hours of some tabby; 
15   But though your years as man tend fast to zero, 
16   In fact your Grace is still but a young Hero . 


		3

17   Though Britain owes (and pays you too) so much, 
18      Yet Europe doubtless owes you greatly more: 
19   You have repaired Legitimacy's crutch,--- 
20      A prop not quite so certain as before: 
21   The Spanish, and the French, as well as Dutch, 
22      Have seen, and felt, how strongly you restore ; 
23   And Waterloo has made the world your debtor--- 
24   (I wish your bards would sing it rather better). 


		4

25   You are "the best of cut-throats":---do not start; 
26      The phrase is Shakspeare's, and not misapplied:--- 
27   War's a brain-spattering, windpipe-slitting art, 
28      Unless her cause by Right be sanctified. 
29   If you have acted once a generous part, 
30      The World, not the World's masters, will decide, 
31   And I shall be delighted to learn who, 
32   Save you and yours, have gained by Waterloo? 


		5

33   I am no flatterer---you've supped full of flattery: 
34      They say you like it too---'tis no great wonder: 
35   He whose whole life has been assault and battery, 
36      At last may get a little tired of thunder; 
37   And swallowing eulogy much more than satire, he 
38      May like being praised for every lucky blunder; 
39   Called "Saviour of the Nations"---not yet saved, 
40   And Europe's Liberator---still enslaved. 


		6

41   I've done. Now go and dine from off the plate 
42      Presented by the Prince of the Brazils, 
43   And send the sentinel before your gate 
44      A slice or two from your luxurious meals: 
45   He fought, but has not fed so well of late. 
46      Some hunger too they say the people feels:--- 
47   There is no doubt that you deserve your ration, 
48   But pray give back a little to the nation. 


		7

49   I don't mean to reflect---a man so great as 
50      You, my Lord Duke! is far above reflection. 
51   The high Roman fashion too of Cincinnatus, 
52      With modern history has but small connection: 
53   Though as an Irishman you love potatoes, 
54      You need not take them under your direction; 
55   And half a million for your Sabine farm 
56   Is rather dear!---I'm sure I mean no harm. 


		8

57   Great men have always scorned great recompenses: 
58      Epaminondas saved his Thebes, and died, 
59   Not leaving even his funeral expenses: 
60      George Washington had thanks and nought beside, 
61   Except the all-cloudless Glory (which few men's is) 
62      To free his country: Pitt too had his pride, 
63   And, as a high-soul'd Minister of State, is 
64   Renowned for ruining Great Britain gratis. 


		9

65   Never had mortal Man such opportunity, 
66      Except Napoleon, or abused it more: 
67   You might have freed fall'n Europe from the Unity 
68      Of Tyrants, and been blest from shore to shore: 
69   And now ---What is your fame? Shall the Muse tune it ye? 
70       Now ---that the rabble's first vain shouts are o'er? 
71   Go, hear it in your famished Country's cries! 
72   Behold the World! and curse your victories! 


		10

73   As these new Cantos touch on warlike feats, 
74      To you the unflattering Muse deigns to inscribe 
75   Truths that you will not read in the Gazettes, 
76      But which, 'tis time to teach the hireling tribe 
77   Who fatten on their Country's gore and debts, 
78       Must be recited, and---without a bribe. 
79   You did great things; but not being great in mind, 
80   Have left undone the greatest ---and mankind. 


		11

81   Death laughs---Go ponder o'er the skeleton 
82      With which men image out the unknown thing 
83   That hides the past world, like to a set sun 
84      Which still elsewhere may rouse a brighter spring,--- 
85   Death laughs at all you weep for:---look upon 
86      This hourly dread of all, whose threatened sting 
87   Turns life to terror, even though in its sheath! 
88   Mark! how its lipless mouth grins without breath! 


		12

89   Mark! how it laughs and scorns at all you are! 
90      And yet was what you are: from ear to ear 
91   It laughs not ---there is now no fleshy bar 
92      So called; the Antic long hath ceased to hear , 
93   But still he smiles ; and whether near or far 
94      He strips from man that mantle (far more dear 
95   Than even the tailor's) his incarnate skin, 
96   White, black, or copper---the dead bones will grin. 


		13

97   And thus Death laughs,---it is sad merriment, 
98      But still it is so; and with such example 
99   Why should not Life be equally content, 
100      With his Superior, in a smile to trample 
101   Upon the nothings which are daily spent 
102      Like bubbles on an ocean much less ample 
103   Than the eternal deluge, which devours 
104   Suns as rays---worlds like atoms---years like hours? 


		14

105   "To be or not to be! that is the question," 
106      Says Shakespeare, who just now is much in fashion. 
107   I am neither Alexander nor Hephaestion, 
108      Nor ever had for abstract fame much passion; 
109   But would much rather have a sound digestion, 
110      Than Buonaparte's cancer:---could I dash on 
111   Through fifty victories to shame or fame, 
112   Without a stomach---what were a good name? 


		15

113   "Oh dura ilia messorum!"---"Oh 
114      Ye rigid guts of reapers!"---I translate 
115   For the great benefit of those who know 
116      What Indigestion is---that inward fate 
117   Which makes all Styx through one small liver flow. 
118      A peasant's sweat is worth his Lord's estate: 
119   Let this one toil for bread--- that rack for rent, 
120   He who sleeps best, may be the most content. 


		16

121   "To be or not to be?"---Ere I decide, 
122      I should be glad to know that which is being ? 
123   'Tis true we speculate both far and wide, 
124      And deem, because we see , we are all-seeing : 
125   For my part, I'll enlist on neither side, 
126      Until I see both sides for once agreeing. 
127   For me, I sometimes think that Life is Death, 
128   Rather than Life a mere affair of breath. 


		17

129   "Que sÁais-je?" was the motto of Montaigne, 
130      As also of the first Academicians: 
131   That all is dubious which Man may attain, 
132      Was one of their most favourite positions. 
133   There's no such thing as certainty, that's plain 
134      As any of Mortality's Conditions: 
135   So little do we know what we're about in 
136   This world, I doubt if doubt itself be doubting. 


		18

137   It is a pleasant voyage perhaps to float, 
138      Like Pyrrho, on a sea of speculation; 
139   But what if carrying sail capsize the boat? 
140      Your wise men don't know much of navigation; 
141   And swimming long in the abyss of thought 
142      Is apt to tire: a calm and shallow station 
143   Well nigh the shore, where one stoops down and gathers 
144   Some pretty shell, is best for moderate bathers. 


		19

145   "But Heaven," as Cassio says, "is above all,--- 
146      No more of this then,---let us pray!" We have 
147   Souls to save, since Eve's slip and Adam's fall, 
148      Which tumbled all mankind into the grave, 
149   Besides fish, beasts, and birds. "The Sparrow's fall 
150      Is special providence," though how it gave 
151   Offence, we know not; probably it perched 
152   Upon the tree which Eve so fondly searched. 


		20

153   Oh, ye immortal Gods! what is Theogony? 
154      Oh, thou too mortal Man! what is Philanthropy? 
155   Oh, World! which was and is, what is Cosmogony? 
156      Some people have accused me of Misanthropy; 
157   And yet I know no more than the mahogany 
158      That forms this desk, of what they mean;--- Lykanthropy 
159   I comprehend, for without transformation 
160   Men become wolves on any slight occasion. 


		21

161   But I, the mildest, meekest of mankind, 
162      Like Moses, or Melancthon, who have ne'er 
163   Done any thing exceedingly unkind,--- 
164      And (though I could not now and then forbear 
165   Following the bent of body or of mind) 
166      Have always had a tendency to spare,--- 
167   Why do they call me misanthrope? Because 
168   They hate me, not I them :---And here we'll pause. 


		22

169   'Tis time we should proceed with our good poem, 
170      For I maintain that it is really good, 
171   Not only in the body, but the proem, 
172      However little both are understood 
173   Just now,---but by and by the Truth will show 'em 
174      Herself in her sublimest attitude: 
175   And till she doth, I fain must be content 
176   To share her Beauty and her Banishment. 


		23

177   Our Hero (and, I trust, kind reader! your's)--- 
178      Was left upon his way to the chief City 
179   Of the immortal Peter's polished boors, 
180      Who still have shown themselves more brave than witty. 
181   I know its mighty Empire now allures 
182      Much flattery---even Voltaire's, and that's a pity. 
183   For me, I deem an absolute Autocrat 
184   Not a Barbarian, but much worse than that. 


		24

185   And I will war, at least in words (and---should 
186      My chance so happen---deeds) with all who war 
187   With Thought;---and of Thought's foes by far most rude, 
188      Tyrants and Sycophants have been and are. 
189   I know not who may conquer: if I could 
190      Have such a prescience, it should be no bar 
191   To this my plain, sworn, downright detestation 
192   Of every despotism in every nation. 


		25

193   It is not that I adulate the people: 
194      Without me , there are Demagogues enough, 
195   And Infidels, to pull down every steeple 
196      And set up in their stead some proper stuff. 
197   Whether they may sow Scepticism to reap Hell, 
198      As is the Christian dogma rather rough, 
199   I do not know;---I wish men to be free 
200   As much from mobs as kings---from you as me. 


		26

201   The consequence is, being of no party, 
202      I shall offend all parties:---never mind! 
203   My words, at least, are more sincere and hearty 
204      Than if I sought to sail before the wind. 
205   He who has nought to gain can have small art: he 
206      Who neither wishes to be bound nor bind, 
207   May still expatiate freely, as will I, 
208   Nor give my voice to Slavery's Jackall cry. 


		27

209   That's an appropriate simile, that Jackall ;--- 
210      I've heard them in the Ephesian ruins howl 
211   By night, as do that mercenary pack all, 
212      Power's base purveyors, who for pickings prowl, 
213   And scent the prey their masters would attack all. 
214      However, the poor Jackalls are less foul 
215   (As being the brave Lions' keen providers) 
216   Than human Insects, catering for Spiders. 


		28

217   Raise but an arm! 'twill brush their web away, 
218      And without that , their poison and their claws 
219   Are useless. Mind, good People! what I say--- 
220      (Or rather Peoples)--- go on without pause! 
221   The web of these Tarantulas each day 
222      Increases, till you shall make common cause: 
223   None, save the Spanish Fly and Attic Bee, 
224   As yet are strongly stinging to be free. 


		29

225   Don Juan, who had shone in the late slaughter, 
226      Was left upon his way with the dispatch, 
227   Where Blood was talked of as we would of Water; 
228      And carcases that lay as thick as thatch 
229   O'er silenced cities, merely served to flatter 
230      Fair Catherine's pastime,---who looked on the match 
231   Between these nations as a main of cocks, 
232   Wherein she liked her own to stand like rocks. 


		30

233   And there in a kibitka he rolled on, 
234      (A cursed sort of carriage without springs, 
235   Which on rough roads leaves scarcely a whole bone) 
236      Pondering on glory, chivalry, and kings, 
237   And orders, and on all that he had done--- 
238      And wishing that post horses had the wings 
239   Of Pegasus---or, at the least, post chaises 
240   Had feathers, when a traveller on deep ways is. 


		31

241   At every jolt---and they were many---still 
242      He turned his eyes upon his little charge, 
243   As if he wished that she should fare less ill 
244      Than he, in these sad highways left at large 
245   To ruts, and flints, and lovely Nature's skill, 
246      Who is no paviour, nor admits a barge 
247   On her canals, where God takes sea and land, 
248   Fishery and farm, both into his own hand. 


		32

249   At least he pays no rent, and has best right 
250      To be the first of what we used to call 
251   "Gentlemen Farmers"---a race worn out quite, 
252      Since lately there have been no rents at all, 
253   And "gentlemen" are in a piteous plight, 
254      And "farmers" can't raise Ceres from her fall. 
255   She fell with Buonaparte:---What strange thoughts 
256   Arise, when we see Emperors fall with oats! 


		33

257   But Juan turned his eyes on the sweet child 
258      Whom he had saved from slaughter---what a trophy! 
259   Oh! ye who build up monuments, defiled 
260      With gore, like Nadir Shah, that costive Sophy, 
261   Who, after leaving Hindostan a wild, 
262      And scarce to the Mogul a cup of coffee 
263   To soothe his woes withal, was slain---the sinner! 
264   Because he could no more digest his dinner;--- 


		34

265   Oh ye! or we! or he! or she! reflect, 
266      That one life saved, especially if young 
267   Or pretty, is a thing to recollect 
268      Far sweeter than the greenest laurels sprung 
269   From the manure of human clay, though decked 
270      With all the praises ever said or sung: 
271   Though hymned by every harp, unless within 
272   Your Heart joins Chorus, Fame is but a din. 


		35

273   Oh, ye great Authors luminous, voluminous! 
274      Ye twice ten hundred thousand daily scribes, 
275   Whose pamphlets, volumes, newspapers illumine us! 
276      Whether you're paid by Government in bribes, 
277   To prove the public debt is not consuming us--- 
278      Or, roughly treading on the "Courtier's kibes" 
279   With clownish heel, your popular circulation 
280   Feeds you by printing half the realm's Starvation;--- 


		36

281   Oh, ye great Authors!---"Apropos des bottes"--- 
282      I have forgotten what I meant to say, 
283   As sometimes have been greater Sages' lots;--- 
284      'Twas something calculated to allay 
285   All wrath in barracks, palaces, or cots: 
286      Certes it would have been but thrown away, 
287   And that's one comfort for my lost advice, 
288   Although no doubt it was beyond all price. 


		37

289   But let it go:---it will one day be found 
290      With other relics of "a former world," 
291   When this world shall be former , underground, 
292      Thrown topsy-turvy, twisted, crisped, and curled, 
293   Baked, fried, or burnt, turned inside-out, or drowned, 
294      Like all the worlds before, which have been hurled 
295   First out of and then back again to Chaos, 
296   The Superstratum which will overlay us. 


		38

297   So Cuvier says;---and then shall come again 
298      Unto the new Creation, rising out 
299   From our old crash, some mystic, ancient strain 
300      Of things destroyed and left in airy doubt: 
301   Like to the notions we now entertain 
302      Of Titans, Giants, fellows of about 
303   Some hundred feet in height, not to say miles , 
304   And Mammoths, and your winged Crocodiles. 


		39

305   Think if then George the Fourth should be dug up! 
306      How the new worldlings of the then new East 
307   Will wonder where such animals could sup! 
308      (For they themselves will be but of the least: 
309   Even worlds miscarry, when too oft they pup, 
310      And every new Creation hath decreased 
311   In size, from overworking the material--- 
312   Men are but maggots of some huge Earth's burial.) 


		40

313   How will---to these young people, just thrust out 
314      From some fresh Paradise, and set to plough, 
315   And dig, and sweat, and turn themselves about, 
316      And plant, and reap, and spin, and grind, and sow, 
317   Till all the Arts at length are brought about, 
318      Especially of war and taxing,---how, 
319   I say, will these great relics, when they see 'em, 
320   Look like the monsters of a new Museum? 


		41

321   But I am apt to grow too metaphysical: 
322      "The time is out of joint,"---and so am I; 
323   I quite forget this poem's merely quizzical, 
324      And deviate into matters rather dry. 
325   I ne'er decide what I shall say, and this I call 
326      Much too poetical. Men should know why 
327   They write, and for what end; but, note or text, 
328   I never know the word which will come next. 


		42

329   So on I ramble, now and then narrating, 
330      Now pondering:---it is time we should narrate: 
331   I left Don Juan with his horses baiting--- 
332      Now we'll get o'er the ground at a great rate. 
333   I shall not be particular in stating 
334      His journey, we've so many tours of late: 
335   Suppose him then at Petersburgh; suppose 
336   That pleasant capital of painted Snows; 


		43

337   Suppose him in a handsome uniform; 
338      A scarlet coat, black facings, a long plume, 
339   Waving, like sails new shivered in a storm, 
340      Over a cocked hat in a crowded room, 
341   And brilliant breeches, bright as a Cairn Gorme, 
342      Of yellow cassimere we may presume, 
343   White stockings drawn, uncurdled as new milk, 
344   O'er limbs whose symmetry set off the silk: 


		44

345   Suppose him sword by side, and hat in hand, 
346      Made up by Youth, Fame, and an Army tailor--- 
347   That great Enchanter, at whose rod's command 
348      Beauty springs forth, and Nature's self turns paler, 
349   Seeing how Art can make her work more grand, 
350      (When she don't pin men's limbs in like a jailor)--- 
351   Behold him placed as if upon a pillar! He 
352   Seems Love turned a Lieutenant of Artillery! 


		45

353   His Bandage slipped down into a cravat; 
354      His Wings subdued to epaulettes; his Quiver 
355   Shrunk to a scabbard, with his Arrows at 
356      His side as a small sword, but sharp as ever; 
357   His Bow converted into a cocked hat; 
358      But still so like, that Psyche were more clever 
359   Than some wives (who make blunders no less stupid) 
360   If She had not mistaken him for Cupid. 


		46

361   The courtiers stared, the ladies whispered, and 
362      The Empress smiled; the reigning favourite frowned--- 
363   I quite forget which of them was in hand 
364      Just then, as they are rather numerous found, 
365   Who took by turns that difficult command 
366      Since first her Majesty was singly crowned: 
367   But they were mostly nervous six-foot fellows, 
368   All fit to make a Patagonian jealous. 


		47

369   Juan was none of these, but slight and slim, 
370      Blushing and beardless; and yet ne'ertheless 
371   There was a something in his turn of limb, 
372      And still more in his eye, which seemed to express 
373   That though he looked one of the Seraphim, 
374      There lurked a Man beneath the Spirit's dress. 
375   Besides, the Empress sometimes liked a boy, 
376   And had just buried the fair faced Lanskoi. 


		48

377   No wonder then that Yermoloff, or Momonoff, 
378      Or Scherbatoff, or any other off 
379   Or on , might dread her Majesty had not room enough 
380      Within her bosom (which was not too tough) 
381   For a new flame; a thought to cast of gloom enough 
382      Along the aspect whether smooth or rough 
383   Of him who, in the language of his station, 
384   Then held that "high official situation." 


		49

385   Oh, gentle ladies! should you seek to know 
386      The import of this diplomatic phrase, 
387   Bid Ireland's Londonderry's Marquess show 
388      His parts of speech; and in the strange displays 
389   Of that odd string of words, all in a row, 
390      Which none divine, and every one obeys, 
391   Perhaps you may pick out some queer no -meaning, 
392   Of that weak wordy harvest the sole gleaning. 


		50

393   I think I can explain myself without 
394      That sad inexplicable beast of prey--- 
395   That Sphinx, whose words would ever be a doubt, 
396      Did not his deeds unriddle them each day--- 
397   That monstrous Hieroglyphic---that long Spout 
398      Of blood and water, leaden Castlereagh! 
399   And here I must an anecdote relate, 
400   But luckily of no great length or weight. 


		51

401   An English lady asked of an Italian, 
402      What were the actual and official duties 
403   Of the strange thing some Women set a value on, 
404      Which hovers oft about some married Beauties, 
405   Called "Cavalier Servente"?---a Pygmalion 
406      Whose statues warm (I fear, alas! too true 'tis) 
407   Beneath his Art. The dame, pressed to disclose them, 
408   Said---"Lady, I beseech you to suppose them ." 


		52

409   And thus I supplicate your supposition, 
410      And mildest, Matron-like interpretation 
411   Of the Imperial Favourite's Condition. 
412      'Twas a high place, the highest in the nation 
413   In fact, if not in rank; and the suspicion 
414      Of any one's attaining to his station, 
415   No doubt gave pain, where each new pair of shoulders, 
416   If rather broad, made stocks rise and their holders. 


		53

417   Juan, I said, was a most beauteous Boy, 
418      And had retained his boyish look beyond 
419   The usual hirsute seasons which destroy, 
420      With beards and whiskers and the like, the fond 
421   Parisian aspect which upset old Troy 
422      And founded Doctors' Commons:---I have conned 
423   The history of divorces, which, though chequered, 
424   Calls Ilion's the first damages on record. 


		54

425   And Catherine, who loved all things (save her lord, 
426      Who was gone to his place) and passed for much, 
427   Admiring those (by dainty dames abhorred) 
428      Gigantic Gentlemen, yet had a touch 
429   Of Sentiment; and he She most adored 
430      Was the lamented Lanskoi, who was such 
431   A lover as had cost her many a tear, 
432   And yet but made a middling grenadier. 


		55

433   Oh, thou "teterrima Causa" of all "belli"--- 
434      Thou gate of Life and Death---thou nondescript! 
435   Whence is our exit and our entrance,---well I 
436      May pause in pondering how all Souls are dipt 
437   In thy perennial fountain:---how man fell , I 
438      Know not, since Knowledge saw her branches stript 
439   Of her first fruit; but how he falls and rises 
440   Since, Thou hast settled beyond all surmises. 


		56

441   Some call thee "the worst Cause of war," but I 
442      Maintain thou art the best : for after all 
443   From thee we come, to thee we go, and why 
444      To get at thee not batter down a wall, 
445   Or waste a world? Since no one can deny 
446      Thou dost replenish worlds both great and small: 
447   With, or without thee, all things at a stand 
448   Are, or would be, thou Sea of Life's dry Land! 


		57

449   Catherine, who was the grand Epitome 
450      Of that great Cause of war, or peace, or what 
451   You please (it causes all the things which be, 
452      So you may take your choice of this or that)--- 
453   Catherine, I say, was very glad to see 
454      The handsome herald, on whose plumage sat 
455   Victory; and, pausing as she saw him kneel 
456   With his dispatch, forgot to break the seal. 


		58

457   Then recollecting the whole Empress, nor 
458      Forgetting quite the woman (which composed 
459   At least three parts of this great whole) she tore 
460      The letter open with an air which posed 
461   The Court, that watched each look her visage wore, 
462      Until a royal smile at length disclosed 
463   Fair weather for the day. Though rather spacious, 
464   Her face was noble, her eyes fine, mouth gracious. 


		59

465   Great joy was her's, or rather joys; the first 
466      Was a ta'en city---thirty thousand slain. 
467   Glory and triumph o'er her aspect burst, 
468      As an East Indian Sunrise on the main. 
469   These quenched a moment her Ambition's thirst--- 
470      So Arab Deserts drink in Summer's rain: 
471   In vain!---As fall the dews on quenchless sands, 
472   Blood only serves to wash Ambition's hands! 


		60

473   Her next amusement was more fanciful; 
474      She smiled at mad Suwarrow's rhymes, who threw 
475   Into a Russian couplet rather dull 
476      The whole gazette of thousands whom he slew. 
477   Her third was feminine enough to annul 
478      The shudder which runs naturally through 
479   Our veins, when things called Sovereigns think it best 
480   To kill, and Generals turn it into jest. 


		61

481   The two first feelings ran their course complete, 
482      And lighted first her eye and then her mouth: 
483   The whole Court looked immediately most sweet, 
484      Like flowers well watered after a long drouth:--- 
485   But when on the Lieutenant at her feet 
486      Her Majesty, who liked to gaze on youth 
487   Almost as much as on a new dispatch, 
488   Glanced mildly, all the world was on the watch. 


		62

489   Though somewhat large, exuberant, and truculent, 
490      When wroth ; while pleased , she was as fine a figure 
491   As those who like things rosy, ripe, and succulent, 
492      Would wish to look on, while they are in vigour. 
493   She could repay each amatory look you lent 
494      With interest, and in turn was wont with rigour 
495   To exact of Cupid's bills the full amount 
496   At sight, nor would permit you to discount. 


		63

497   With her the latter, though at times convenient, 
498      Was not so necessary; for they tell 
499   That she was handsome, and though fierce looked lenient, 
500      And always used her favourites too well. 
501   If once beyond her boudoir's precincts in ye went, 
502      Your "Fortune" was in a fair way "to swell 
503   A Man," as Giles says; for though she would widow all 
504   Nations, she liked Man as an individual. 


		64

505   What a strange thing is man! and what a stranger 
506      Is woman! What a whirlwind is her head, 
507   And what a whirlpool full of depth and danger 
508      Is all the rest about her! Whether wed, 
509   Or widow, maid, or mother, she can change her 
510      Mind like the wind; whatever she has said 
511   Or done, is light to what she'll say or do;--- 
512   The oldest thing on record, and yet new! 


		65

513   Oh Catherine! (for of all interjections 
514      To thee both oh! and ah! belong of right 
515   In love and war) how odd are the connections 
516      Of human thoughts, which jostle in their flight! 
517   Just now your's were cut out in different sections: 
518       First Ismail's capture caught your fancy quite; 
519   Next of new knights, the fresh and glorious hatch; 
520   And thirdly , he who brought you the dispatch! 


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521   Shakspeare talks of "the Herald Mercury 
522      New lighted on a Heaven-kissing hill"; 
523   And some such visions crossed her Majesty, 
524      While her young Herald knelt before her still. 
525   'Tis very true the hill seemed rather high 
526      For a Lieutenant to climb up; but skill 
527   Smoothed even the Simplon's steep, and by God's blessing, 
528   With Youth and Health all kisses are "heaven-kissing." 


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529   Her Majesty looked down, the Youth looked up--- 
530      And so they fell in love:---She with his face, 
531   His grace, his God-knows-what: for Cupid's cup 
532      With the first draught intoxicates apace, 
533   A quintessential laudanum or "black drop," 
534      Which makes one drunk at once, without the base 
535   Expedient of full bumpers; for the eye 
536   In love drinks all life's fountains (save tears) dry. 


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537   He, on the other hand, if not in love, 
538      Fell into that no less imperious passion, 
539   Self-love---which, when some sort of Thing above 
540      Ourselves, a singer, dancer, much in fashion, 
541   Or dutchess, princess, Empress, "deigns to prove," 
542      ('Tis Pope's phrase) a great longing, tho' a rash one, 
543   For one especial person out of many, 
544   Makes us believe ourselves as good as any. 


		69

545   Besides, he was of that delighted age 
546      Which makes all female ages equal---when 
547   We don't much care with whom we may engage 
548      As bold as Daniel in the Lion's den, 
549   So that we can our native Sun assuage 
550      In the next Ocean, which may flow just then, 
551   To make a twilight in, just as Sol's heat is 
552   Quenched in the lap of the salt Sea, or Thetis. 


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553   And Catherine (we must say thus much for Catherine) 
554      Though bold and bloody, was the kind of thing 
555   Whose temporary passion was quite flattering, 
556      Because each lover looked a sort of king, 
557   Made up upon an amatory pattern, 
558      A royal husband in all save the ring --- 
559   Which, being the damn'dest part of matrimony, 
560   Seemed taking out the sting to leave the honey. 


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561   And when you add to this, her womanhood 
562      In its meridian, her blue eyes, or grey--- 
563   (The last, if they have soul, are quite as good, 
564      Or better, as the best examples say: 
565   Napoleon's, Mary's (Queen of Scotland) should 
566      Lend to that colour a transcendant ray; 
567   And Pallas also sanctions the same hue, 
568   Too wise to look through Optics black or blue)--- 


		72

569   Her sweet smile, and her then majestic figure, 
570      Her plumpness, her imperial condescension, 
571   Her preference of a boy to men much bigger, 
572      (Fellows whom Messalina's self would pension) 
573   Her prime of life, just now in juicy vigour, 
574      With other extras , which we need not mention,--- 
575   All these, or any one of these, explain 
576   Enough to make a stripling very vain. 


		73

577   And that's enough, for love is vanity, 
578      Selfish in its beginning as its end, 
579   Except where 'tis a mere Insanity, 
580      A Maddening Spirit which would strive to blend 
581   Itself with Beauty's frail Inanity, 
582      On which the passion's self seems to depend: 
583   And hence some heathenish philosophers 
584   Make Love the Main Spring of the Universe. 


		74

585   Besides Platonic love, besides the love 
586      Of God, the love of Sentiment, the loving 
587   Of faithful pairs---(I needs must rhyme with dove, 
588      That good old steam-boat which keeps verses moving 
589   'Gainst Reason---Reason ne'er was hand-and-glove 
590      With rhyme, but always leant less to improving 
591   The sound than sense)---besides all these pretences 
592   To Love, there are those things which Words name Senses;--- 


		75

593   Those movements, those improvements in our bodies 
594      Which make all bodies anxious to get out 
595   Of their own sand-pits to mix with a Goddess, 
596      For such all Women are at first no doubt. 
597   How beautiful that moment! and how odd is 
598      That fever which precedes the languid rout 
599   Of our Sensations! What a curious way 
600   The whole thing is of clothing souls in clay! 


		76

601   The noblest kind of Love is Love Platonical, 
602      To end or to begin with; the next grand 
603   Is that which may be christened Love Canonical, 
604      Because the clergy take the thing in hand; 
605   The third sort to be noted in our Chronicle 
606      As flourishing in every Christian land, 
607   Is, when chaste Matrons to their other ties 
608   Add what may be called Marriage in Disguise . 


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609   Well, we won't analyze---our story must 
610      Tell for itself: the Sovereign was smitten, 
611   Juan much flattered by her love, or lust;--- 
612      I cannot stop to alter words once written, 
613   And the two are so mixed with human dust, 
614      That he who names one , both perchance may hit on: 
615   But in such matters Russia's mighty Empress 
616   Behaved no better than a common Sempstress. 


		78

617   The whole Court melted into one wide whisper, 
618      And all lips were applied unto all ears! 
619   The elder ladies' wrinkles curled much crisper 
620      As they beheld; the younger cast some leers 
621   On one another, and each lovely lisper 
622      Smiled as she talked the matter o'er; but tears 
623   Of rivalship rose in each clouded eye 
624   Of all the standing army who stood by. 


		79

625   All the Ambassadors of all the Powers 
626      Inquired, Who was this very new young man, 
627   Who promised to be great in some few hours? 
628      Which is full soon (though life is but a span). 
629   Already they beheld the silver showers 
630      Of rubles rain, as fast as specie can, 
631   Upon his cabinet, besides the presents 
632   Of several ribbons and some thousand peasants. 


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633   Catherine was generous,---all such ladies are: 
634      Love, that great opener of the heart and all 
635   The ways that lead there, be they near or far, 
636      Above, below, by turnpikes great or small,--- 
637   Love---(though she had a cursed taste for war, 
638      And was not the best wife, unless we call 
639   Such Clytemnestra; though perhaps 'tis better 
640   That one should die, than two drag on the fetter)--- 


		81

641   Love had made Catherine make each lover's fortune; 
642      Unlike our own half-chaste Elizabeth, 
643   Whose avarice all disbursements did importune, 
644      If History, the grand liar, ever saith 
645   The truth; and though Grief her old age might shorten, 
646      Because she put a favourite to death, 
647   Her vile, ambiguous method of flirtation, 
648   And Stinginess, disgrace her Sex and Station. 


		82

649   But when the levee rose, and all was bustle 
650      In the dissolving Circle, all the nations' 
651   Ambassadors began as 'twere to hustle 
652      Round the young man with their congratulations. 
653   Also the softer silks were heard to rustle 
654      Of gentle dames, among whose recreations 
655   It is to speculate on handsome faces, 
656   Especially when such lead to high places. 


		83

657   Juan, who found himself, he knew not how, 
658      A general object of attention, made 
659   His answers with a very graceful bow 
660      As if born for the Ministerial trade. 
661   Though modest, on his unembarrassed brow 
662      Nature had written "gentleman." He said 
663   Little, but to the purpose; and his manner 
664   Flung hovering Graces o'er him like a banner. 


		84

665   An order from her Majesty consigned 
666      Our young Lieutenant to the genial care 
667   Of those in office: all the World looked kind 
668      (As it will look sometimes with the first stare, 
669   Which Youth would not act ill to keep in mind) 
670      As also did Miss Protasoff then there, 
671   Named from her mystic office "l'Eprouveuse," 
672   A term inexplicable to the Muse. 


		85

673   With her then, as in humble duty bound, 
674      Juan retired,---and so will I, until 
675   My Pegasus shall tire of touching ground. 
676      We have just lit on a "Heaven-kissing hill," 
677   So lofty that I feel my brain turn round, 
678      And all my fancies whirling like a mill; 
679   Which is a signal to my nerves and brain, 
680   To take a quiet ride in some green lane.