Page images

And here, assembled cross-legg'd round their trays,

Small social parties just begun to dine ; Pilaus and meats of all sorts met the gaze,

And flasks of Samian and of Chian wine, And sherbet cooling in the porous vase ;

Above them their dessert grew on its vine, The orange and pomegranate nodding o’er, Dropp'd in their laps, scarce pluck'd, their mellow store.

A band of children, round a snow-white ram,

There wreathe his venerable horns with flowers ; While peaceful, as if still an unwean'd lamb,

The patriarch of the Rock all gently cowers
His sober head, majestically tame,

Or eats from out the palm, or playful lowers
His brow, as if in act to butt, and then
Yielding to their small hands, draws back again.

Their classic profiles, and glittering dresses,

Their large black eyes, and soft seraphic cheeks, Crimson as cleft pomegranates, their long tresses,

The gesture which enchants, the eye that speaks, The innocence which happy childhood blesses,

Made quite a picture of these little Greeks ; So that the philosophical beholder Sigh’d, for their sakes—that they should e'er grow older.

Afar, a dwarf buffoon stood telling tales

To a sedate grey circle of old smokers
Of secret treasures found in hidden vales,

Of wonderful replies from Arab jokers,
Of charms to make good gold and cure bad ails,

Of rocks bewitch'd that open to the knockers,
Of magic ladies who, by one sole act,
Transform'd their lords to beasts (but that's a fact).

Here was no lack of innocent diversion

For the imagination or the senses, Song, dance, wine, music, stories from the Persian,

All pretty pastimes in which no offence is ; But Lambro saw all these things with aversion,

Perceiving in his absence such expenses, Dreading that climax of all human ills, The inflammation of his weekly bills.

Ah! what is man? what perils still environ

The happiest mortals even after dinnerA day of gold from out an age of iron

Is all that life allows the luckiest sinner;
Pleasure (whene'er she sings, at least) 's a siren,

That lures, to flay alive, the young beginner ;
Lambro's reception at his people's banquet
Was such as fire accords to a wet blanket.

He—being a man who seldom used a word

Too much, and wishing gladly to surprise (In general he surprised men with the sword)

His daughter-had not sent before to advise Of his arrival, so that no one stirr'd ;

And long he paused to re-assure his eyes, In fact much more astonish'd than delighted, To find so much good company invited.

He did not know (alas ! how men will lie)

That a report (especially the Greeks) Avouch'd his death (such people never die),

And put his house in mourning several weeks,But now their eyes and also lips were dry ;

The bloom, too, had return'd to Haidée's cheeks, Her tears, too, being return'd into their fount, She now kept house upon her own account.

[ocr errors]

Hence all this rice, meat, dancing, wine, and fiddling,

Which turn'd the isle into a place of pleasure ; The servants all were getting drunk or idling,

A life which made them happy beyond measure. Her father's hospitality seem'd middling,

Compared with what Haidée did with his treasure ; 'Twas wonderful how things went on improving, While she had not one hour to spare from loving.

Perhaps you think in stumbling on this feast

He flew into a passion, and in fact
There was no mighty reason to be pleased ;

Perhaps you prophesy some sudden act,
The whip, the rack, or dungeon at the least,

To teach his people to be more exact, And that, proceeding at a very high rate, He show'd the royal penchants of a pirate.

You're wrong.–He was the mildest manner'd man

That ever scuttled ship or cut a throat; With such true breeding of a gentleman,

You never could divine his real thought ; No courtier could, and scarcely woman can

Gird more deceit within a petticoat; Pity he loved adventurous life's variety, He was so great a loss to good society.


(DON JUAN, Canto viii. Stanzas 123-127.)

ALL that the mind would shrink from of excesses ;

All that the body perpetrates of bad ;
All that we read, hear, dream, of man's distresses ;

All that the devil would do if run stark mad;
All that defies the worst which pen expresses ;

All by which hell is peopled, or as sad
As hell—mere mortals who their power abuse-
Was here (as heretofore and since) let loose.

If here and there some transient trait of pity

Was shown, and some more noble heart broke through Its bloody bond, and saved, perhaps, some pretty

Child, or an aged, helpless man or two-
What's this in one annihilated city,

Where thousand loves, and ties, and duties grow?
Cockneys of London ! Muscadins of Paris !
Just ponder what a pious pastime war is.

Think how the joys of reading a Gazette

Are purchased by all agonies and crimes : Or if these do not move you, don't forget

Such doom may be your own in after-times. Meantime the Taxes, Castlereagh, and Debt,

Are hints as good as sermons, or as rhymes. Read your own hearts and Ireland's present story, Then feed her famine fat with Wellesley's glory.

But still there is unto a patriot nation,

Which loves so well its country and its king, A subject of sublimest exultation

Bear it, ye Muses, on your brightest wing ! Howe'er the mighty locust, Desolation,

Strip your green fields, and to your harvests cling, Gaunt famine never shall approach the throneThough Ireland starve, great George weighs twenty stone.

But let me put an end unto my theme :

There was an end of Ismail-hapless town!
Far flash'd her burning towers o'er Danube's stream,

And redly ran his blushing waters down.
The horrid war-whoop and the shriller scream

Rose still ; but fainter were the thunders grown :
Of forty thousand who had mann'd the wall,
Some hundreds breathed- the rest were silent all !

« PreviousContinue »