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Don Juan.

CANTO THE FIRST.

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I.
I WANT a hero: an uncommon want,

When every year and month sends fortb. 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 deyil somewhat ere his time.

II.

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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 Buonaparté and Dumourier
Recorded in the Moniteur and Courier.

III.
Barnarve, 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, Dessaix, Moreau,

With many of the military set,
Exceedingly remarkable at times,
But not at all adapted to my rhymes.

IV.
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,

'Tis 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.

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v. Brave men were living before Agamemnon,

5 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.

VI.
Most epic poets plunge" in medias res,'

6 (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.

VII.
That is the usual method, but not mine

7 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) Narratiug

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

VIII.
In Seville was he born, a pleasant city,

8 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 besides the river,
A noble stream, and call’d the Guadalquivir.

IX.
His father's name was Jose-Don, of course.

9 A true Hidalgo, free from every stain Of Moor or Hebrew blood, he traced his source

Through the most Gothic gentlemen of Spain ;
A better cavalier ne'er mounted horse,

Or, being mounted, e'er got down again,
Than Jose, who begot our hero, who
Pegot-but that's to come-Well, to renew;

His mother was a learned lady, famed

10 For every branch of every science known In every Christian language ever named,

With virtues equall’d by her wit alone;
She made the cleverest people quite ashamed,

And even the good with inward envy groan,
Finding themselves so very much exceeded,
In their own way, by all the things that she did.

XI.
Her memory, was a mine; she knew by heart

11 All Calderon and greater part of Lopé, So that if any actor miss'd his part

She could have served him for the prompter's copy;
For her Feinagle's were an useless art,

And he himself obliged to shut up shop-ho
Could never make a memory so fine as
That which adcrn'd the brain of Donna Inez.

XII.
Her favourite science was the mathematical,

12 Her noblest virtue was her magnanimity, Her wit (she sometimes tried at wit) was Attic all,

Her serious sayings darken'd to sublimity;
In short, in all things she was fairly what I call

A prodigy-her morning dress was dimity,
Her evening, silk, or, in the summer, muslin,
And other stuffs, with which I won't stand puzzling.

XIII.
She knew the Latin-that is, “the Lord's prayer," 13

And Greek-the alphabet-I'm nearly sure; She read some French romances here and there,

Although her mode of speaking was not pure;
For native Spanish she had no great care,

At least her conversation was obscure;
Her thoughts were theorems, her words a problem,
As if she deem'd that mystery would ennoble 'em.

XIV.
She liked the English and the Hebrew tongue,

11 And said there was analogy between 'em ; She proved it somehow out of sacred song,

But I must leave the proofs to those who've seen 'em, But this I heard her say, and can't be wrong,

And all may think which way their judgments lean 'em, “'Tis strange-the Hebrew noun which means 'I am,' The English always use to govern d-n."

XV. Some women use their tongues-she look'd a lecture, 15

Each eye a sermon, and her brow a homily, An all-in-all sufficient self-director,

Like the lamented late Sir Samuel Romilly, The Law's expounder, and the State's corrector,

Whose suicide was almost an anomaly—
One sad example more, that “ All is vanity,"
(The jury brought their verdict in, “Insanity.")

XVI.
In short, she was a walking calculation,

16 Miss Edgeworth's novels stepping from their covers, Or Mrs. Trimmer's books on education,

Or, “ Cælebs' Wife" set out in quest of lovers ; Morality's prim personification,

In which not Envy's self a flaw discovers;
To others' share let“ female errors fall,"
For she had not even one-the worst of all.

XVII.
Oh! she was perfect, past all parallel-.

17 Of any modern female saint's comparison; So far above the cunning powers of hell,

Her guardian angel had given up his garrison;
Even her minutest motions went as well

As those of the best time-piece made by Harrison :
In virtues nothing earthly could surpass her,
Save thine "incomparable oil,” Macassar!

XVIII.
Perfect she was, but as perfection is

Insipid in this naughty world of ours, Where our first parents never learn’d to kiss

Till they were exiled from their earlier bowers, Where all was peace, and innocence, and bliss,

(I wonder how they got through the twelve hours)
Don Jose, like a lineal son of Eve,
Went plucking various fruit without her leave.

XIX.
He was a mortal of the careless kind,

19 With no great love for learning, or the learn'd, Who chose to go where'er he had a mind.

And never dream'd his lady was concern'd; The world, as usual, wickedly inclined

To see a kingdom or a house o'erturn'd, Whisper'd he had a mistress, some said two, But for domestic quarrels one will do.

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XX.
Now Donna Inez had, with all her merit,

A great opinion of her own good qualities;
Neglect, indeed, requires a saint to bear it,

And such, indeed, she was in her moralities;
But then she had the devil of a spirit,

And sometimes mix'd up fancies with realities,
And let few opportunities escape
Of getting her liege lord into a scrape.

XXI.
This was an easy matter with a man

Oft in the wrong, and never on his guard; And even the wisest, do the best they can,

Have moments, hours, and days, so unprepar'd, That you might "brain them with their lady's fan;"

And sometimes ladies hit exceeding hard, And fans turn into falchions in fair hands, And why and wherefore no one understands,

XXII.
'Tis pity learned virgins ever wed

With persons of no sort of education,
Or gentlemen, who though well born and bred,

Grow tired of scientific conversation :
I don't choose to say much upon this head,

I'm a plain man, and in a single station,
But-Oh!

ye lords of ladies intellectual,
Inform us truly, have they not hen-peck'd you all ?

XXIII.
Don Jose and his lady quarrell’d-why,

Not any of the many could divine,
Though several thousand people chose to try;

'Twas surely no concern of theirs nor mino; I loathe that low vice-curiosity;

But if there's any thing in which I shine, 'Tis in arranging all my friends' affairs, Not having, of my own, domestic cares.

XXIV.
And so I interfered, and with the best

Intentions, but their treatment was not kind;
I think the foolish people were possess’d,

For neither of them could I ever find,
Although their porter afterwards confess'd

But that's no matter, and the worst's behind,
For little Juan o'er me threw, down stairs,
A pail of housemaid's water unawares.

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