Justin H. (Justin Huntly) McCarthy.

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Difficile est proprie communia dicere.

Hor. Epist. ad Pison





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I want a hero : an uncommon want,

When every year and month sends forth a new

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.


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

And fill'd their sign-posts then, like Wellesley


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.


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, Dessaix,
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,
'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,



Brave men were living before Agamemnon s
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 vou'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 Guadalquivir.


His father's name was J6se-~Don, of course,
A true Hidalgo, free from every stain

Of Moor or Hebrew blood, he traced his source
Through the most Gothic gentlemen of Spain % 7

A better cavalier ne'er mounted horse,
Or, being mounted, e'er got down again,


Than Jose, who begot our hero, who

Begot but that's to come Well, to renew :


His mother was a learned lady, famed

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.


Her memory was a mine : she knew by heart
All Calderon and greater part of Lope,

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 he

Could never make a memory so fine as

That which adorn'd the brain of Donna Inez.


Her favourite science was the mathematical,
Her noblest virtue was her magnanimity,

Her wit (she sometimes tried at wit) was Attic all ?
Her serious sayings darken'd to sublimity ; x

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 stay puzzling.


She knew the Latin that is, the Lord's prayer,
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.


She liked the English and the Hebrew tongue,
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.




In short, she was a walking calculation,

Miss Edgeworth's novels stepping from their

Or Mrs. Trimmer's books on education,

Or Ccelebs' 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.




Oh ! she was perfect past all parallel

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 Har-
rison :

In virtues nothing earthly could surpass her,

Save thine incomparable oil, Macassar ! 3


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

Don Jose, like a lineal son of Eve,

Went plucking various fruit without her leave.


He was a mortal of the careless kind,

With no great love for learning, or the learn'd,


Who chose to go where'er he had a inind,
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.


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 a 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.


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 unprepared,

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.

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

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 mine ;
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.


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.


A little curly-headed, good-for-nothing,

And mischief-making monkey from his birth j

His parents ne'er agreed except in doting
Upon the most unquiet imp on earth ;

Instead of quarrelling, had they been but both in
Their senses, they'd have sent young master

To school, or had him soundly whipp'd at home,

To teach him manners for the time to come.


Don Jose and the Donna Inez led
For some time an unhappy sort of life,

Wishing each other, not divorced, but dead ;
They lived respectably as man and wife,

Their conduct was exceedingly well-bred,
And gave no outward signs of inward strife.


Until at length the smother'd fire broke out.
And put the business past all kind of doubt.


For Inez call'd some druggists and physicians,
And tried to prove her loving lord was mad 7

But as he had some lucid intermissions,
She next decided he was only had ;

Yet when they ask'd her for her depositions,
No sort of explanation could be had,

Save that her duty towards man and God

Required this conduct which seem'd very odd.


She kept a journal, where his faults were noted,
And open'd certain trunks of books and letters,

All which might, if occasion served, be quoted ;
And then she had all Seville for abettors,

Besides her good old grandmother (who doted; )
The hearers of her case became repeaters,

Then advocates, inquisitors, and judges,

Some for amusement, others for old grudges.


And then this best and meekest woman bore
With such serenity her husband's woes,


Just as the Spartan ladies did of yore,

Who saw their spouses kill'd, and nobly chose
Never to say a word about them more

Calmly she heard each calumny that rose,
And saw his agonies with such sublimity,
That all the world exclaim'd, What magnani-
mity !

No doubt, this patience, when the world is
damning us,

Ts philosophic in our former friends;
'Tis also pleasant to be deem'd magnanimous,

The more so in obtaining our own ends ;
And what the lawyers call a malus animus,

Conduct like this by no means comprehends :
Revenge in person's certainly no virtue,
But then 'tis not my fault, if others hurt you.


And if our quarrels should rip up old stories,
And help them with a lie or two additional,

I'm not to blame, as you well know, no more is
Any one else they were become traditional ;

16 dost juan.

Besides, their resurrection aids our glories

By contrast, which is what we just were wish-
ing all :
And science profits by this resurrection
Dead scandals form good subjects for dissection.


Their friends had tried at reconciliation,

Then their relations, who made matters worse $

('Twere hard to tell upon a like occasion
To whom it may be best to have recourse

I can't say much for friend or yet relation : )
The lawyers did their utmost for divorce,

But scarce a fee was paid on either side

Before, unluckily, Don Jose died.


He died : and most unluckily, because,
According to all hints I could collect

From counsel learned in those kinds of laws,
(Although their talk's obscure and circumspect)

His death contrived to spoil a charming cause ;
A thousand pities also with respect

To public feeling, which on this occasion

Was manifested in a great sensation.



But ah ! he died; and buried with hini lay
The public feeling and the lawyers' fees:'

His house was sold, his servants sent away,
A Jew took one of his two mistresses,

A priest the other at least so they say :
I ask'd the doctors after his disease,

He died of the slow fever call'd the tertian,

And left his widow to her own aversion.


Yet Jose was an honourable man,
That I must say, who knew him very well;

Therefore his frailties I'll no further scan,
Indeed there were not many more to tell ;

And if his passions now and then outran
Discretion, and were not so peaceable

As Numa's (who was also named Pompilius,)

He had been ill brought up, and was born bilious.


Whate'er might be his worthlessness or worth, *
Poor fellow ! he had many things to wound him,
Let's own, since it can do no good on earth;
It was a trying moment that which found him


Standing alone beside his desolate hearth,

Where all his household gods lay shiver' d round

No choice was left his feelings or his pride
Save death or Doctors' Commons so he died.

Dying intestate, Juan was sole heir

To a chancery suit, and messuages, and lands.
Which, with a long minority and care,

Promised to turn out well in proper hands?
Inez became sole guardian, which was fair,

And answer'd but to nature's just demands )
An only son left with an only mother
Is brought up much more wisely than another.


Sagest of women, even of widows, she
Resolved that Juan should be quite a paragon,

And worthy of the noblest pedigree :

(His sire was of Castile, his dam from Arragon.)

Then for accomplishments of chivalry,

In case our lord the king should go to war again ,

He learn'd the arts of riding, fencing, gunnery,

And how to scale a fortress or a nunnery.



But that which Donna Inez most desired,
And saw into herself each day before all

The learned tutors whom for bim she hired,
Was, that his breeding should be strictly moral j

Much into all his studies she inquired,

And so they were submitted first to her, all,

Arts, sciences, no branch was made a mystery

To Juan's eyes, excepting natural history,


The languages, especially the dead,

The sciences, and most of all the abstruse,

The arts, at least all such as could be said
To be the most remote from common use,

In all these he was much and deeply read;
But not a page of any thing that's loose,

Or hints continuation of the species,

Was ever suffer'd, lest he should grow vicious.


His classic studies made a little puzzle,

Because of filthy loves of gods and goddesses,

Who in the earlier ages raised a bustle,
But never put on pantaloons or boddices;


His reverend tutors had at times a tussle,

And for their jEneids, Iliads, and Odysseys*
Were forced to make an odd sort of apology,
For Donna Inez dreaded the mythology.


Ovid's a rake, as half his verses show him,
Anacreon's morals are a still worse sample,

Catullus scarcely has a decent poem,

I don't think Sappho's Ode a good example,

Although 3 Longinus tells us there is no hymn
Where the sublime soars forth on wings more
ample ;

But Virgil's songs are pure, except that horrid one

Beginning with Formosum Pastor Cory don.


Lucretius' irreligion is too strong

For early stomachs, to prove wholesome food;
I can't help thinking Juvenal was wrong,

Although no doubt his real intent was good,
For speaking out so plainly in his song,

So much indeed as to be downright rudej
And then what proper person can be partial
To all those nauseous epigrams of Martial?



Juan was taught from out the best edition,
Expurgated by learned men, who place,

Judiciously, from out the schoolboy's vision,
The grosser parts; but fearful to deface

Too much their modest bard by this omission,
And pitying sore his mutilated case,

They only add them all in an appendix, *

Which saves, in fact, the trouble of an index;


For there we have them all at one fell swoop,
Instead of being scatter'd through the pages;

They stand forth marshall'd in a handsome
To meet the ingenuous youth of future ages,

Till some less rigid editor shall stoop

To call them back into their separate cages,

Instead of standing staring altogether,

Like garden gods- and not so decent either,


The Missal too (it was the family Missal)
Was ornamented in a sort of way


Which ancient mass-books often are, and this all
Kinds of grotesques illumined; and how they,

Who saw those figures on the margin kiss all,
Could turn their optics to the text and pray

Is more than I know but Don Juan's mother

Kept this herself, and gave her son another.


Sermons he read, and lectures he endured,
And homilies, and lives of all the saints j

To Jerome and to Chrysostom inured,

He did not take such studies for restraints \

But how faith is acquired, and then insured,
So well not one of the aforesaid paints

As Saint Augustine in his fine Confessions,

Which make the reader envy his transgressions.

This, too, was a seal'd book to little Juan

I can't but say that his mamma was right,
If such an education was the true one.

She scarcely trusted him from out her sight ;
Her maids were old, and if she took a new one

You might be sure she was a perfect fright,


She did this during even her husband's life
I recommend as much to every wife,


Young Juan wax* d in goodliness and grace;

At six a charming child, and at eleven
With all the promise of as fine a face

As e'er to man's maturer growth was given :
He studied steadily, and grew apace,

And seem'd, at least, in the right road to
For half his days were pass'd at church, the

Between his tutors, confessor, and mother.


At six, I said, he was a charming child,

At twelve he was a fine, but quiet boy ;
Although in infancy a little wild,

They tamed him down amongst them; to
His natural spirit not in vain they toil'd,

At least it seem'd so ; and his mother's joy
Was to declare how sage, and still, and steady,
Her young philosopher was grown already.

2/j. DON JUAN.


I had my doubts, perhaps I have them still,
But what I say is neither here nor there :

I knew his father well, and have some skill
In character but it would not be fair

From sire to son to augur good or ill :
He and his wife were an ill-sorted pair

But scandal's my aversion I protest

Against all evil speaking, even in jest.

For my part I say nothing nothings but

This I will say my reasons are my own
That if I had an only son to put

To school (as God be praised that I have none)
? Tis not with Donna Inez I would shut

Him up to learn his catechism alone,
No no I'd send him out betimes to college,
For there it was I pick'd up my own knowledge.


For there one learns 'tis not for me to boast,
Though I acquired but I pass over that,

As well as all the Greek I since have lost :

I say that there's the place but uFerbum sat f


1 think, I pick'd up too, as well as most,

Knowledge of matters but no matter what
I never married but, I think, I know
That sons should not be educated so.


Young Juan now was sixteen years of age,

Tall, handsome, slender, but well knit; he

Active, though not so sprightly, as a page ;
And every body but his mother deem'd

Him almost man ; but she flew in a rage,

And bit her lips (for else she* might have

If any said so, for to be precocious

Was in her eyes a thing the most atrocious.


Amongst her numerous acquaintance, all
Selected for discretion and devotion,

There was the Donna Julia, whom to call
Pretty were but to give a feeble notion

Of many charms in her as natural
As sweetness to the flower, or salt to ocean,



Her zone to Venus, or his bow to Cupid,
(But this last simile is trite and stupid.)


The darkness of her oriental eye

Accorded with her Moorish origin ;
(Her blood was not all Spanish, by the by

In Spain, you know, this is a sort of sin.)
When proud Grenada fell, and, forced to fly,

Boabdil wept, of Donna Julia's kin
Some went to Africa, some staid in Spain,
Her great great grandmamma chose to remain.

She married (I forget the pedigree)

With an Hidalgo, who transmitted down
His blood less noble than such blood should be ;

At such alliances his sires would frown,
In that point so precise in each degree

That they bred in and in, as might be shown,
Marrying their cousins nay, their aunts and

Which always spoils the breed, if it increases.


This heathenish cross restored the breed again,
Ruin'd its blood, but much improved its flesh ;


For, from a root the ugliest in Old Spain
Sprung up a branch as beautiful as fresh )

The sons no more were short, the daughters plain :
But there's a rumour which I fain would hush,

'Tis said that Donna Julia's grandmamma

Produced her Don more heirs at love than law.


However this might be, the race went on
Improving still through every generation,

Until it centr'ed in an only son,
Who left an only daughter ; my narration

May have suggested that this single one

Could be but Julia (whom on this occasion

I shall have much to speak about,) and she

Was married, charming, chaste, and twenty-


Her eye (I'm very fond of handsome eyes)
Was large and dark, suppressing half its fire

Until she spoke, then through its soft disguise
Flash'd an expression more of pride than ire,

And love than either; and there would arise
A something in them which was not desire,


But would have been, perhaps, but for the soul
Which struggled through and chasten'd down the


Her glossy hair was cluster'd o'er a brow

Bright with intelligence, and fair and smooth ;

Her eyebrow's shape was like the aerial bow,
Pier cheek all purple with the beam of youth,

Mounting, at times, to a transparent glow,
As if her veins ran lightning; she, in sooth,

Possess'd an air and grace by no means common:

Her stature tall I hate a dumpy woman.


Wedded she was some years, and to a man

Of fifty, and such husbands are in plenty ;
And yet, I think, instead of such a one

'Twere better to have two of five and twenty,
Especially in countries near the sun :

And now I think on't, mi vien in mente,
Ladies even of the most uneasy virtue
Prefer a spouse whose age is short of thirty.

'lis a sad thing, I cannot choose but say,

And all the fault of that indecent sun,

.- *


Who cannot leave alone our helpless clay,
But will keep baking, broiling, burning on,

That howsoever people fast and pray

The flesh is frail, and so the soul undone :

What men call gallantry, and gods adultery,

Is much more common where the climate's sultry.


Happy the nations of the moral north !

Where all is virtue, and the winter season
Sends sin, without a rag on, shivering forth;

('Twas snow that brought Saint Anthony to
reason j )
Where juries cast up what a wife is worth

By laying whate'er sum, in mulct, they please on
The lover, who must pay a handsome price,
Because it is a marketable vice.


Alfonso was the name of Julia's lord,

A man well looking for his years, and who

Was neither much beloved, nor yet abhorr'd j
They lived together as most people do,

Suffering each other's foibles by accord,
And not exactly either one or two ;


Yet he was jealous, though he did not show it,
For jealousy dislikes the world to know it.


Julia was yet I never could see why

With Donna Inez quite a favourite friend j
Between their tastes there was small sympathy,

For not a line had Julia ever penn'd :
Some people whisper (but, no doubt, they lie,

For malice still imputes some private end)
That Inez had, ere Don Alfonso's marriage,
Forgot with him her very prudent carriage ;


And that still keeping up the old connexion,
Which time had lately render'd much more

She took his lady also in affection,

And certainly this course was much the best :

She flatter'd Julia with her sage protection,
And complimented Don Alfonso's taste;

And if she could not (who can?) silence scandal,

At least she left it a more slender handle.


I can't tell whether Julia saw the affair
With other people's eyes, or if her own


Discoveries made, but none could be aware
Of this, at least no symptom e'er was shown j

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Online LibraryJustin H. (Justin Huntly) McCarthyDon Juan → online text (page 1 of 7)