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Laura, when dress'd, was (as I sang before)
A pretty woman as was ever seen, Fresh as the Angel o'er a new inn door,
Or frontispiece of a new Magazine, With all the fashions which the last month wore, Colour'd, and silver paper leaved between That and the title-page, for fear the press Should soil with parts of speech the parts of dress. LVIII. They went to the Ridotto; 't is a hall
Where people dance, and sup, and dance again; Its proper name, perhaps, were a masqued ball, But that's of no importance to my strain ; 'Tis (on a smaller scale) like our Vauxhall,
Excepting that it can't be spoilt by rain: The company is "mix'd" (the phrase I quote is As much as saying, they're below your notice);
For a "mix'd company" implies that, save
Yourself and friends, and half a hundred more, Whom you may bow to without looking grave,
The rest are but a vulgar set, the bore Of public places, where they basely brave
The fashionable stare of twenty score Of well-bred persons, call'd "the World;" but I, Although I know them, really don't know why.
This is the case in England; at least was
The demagogues of fashion: all below
Who knock'd his army down with icy hammer,
A blundering novice in his new French grammar; Good cause had he to doubt the chance of war,
And as for Fortune - but I dare not d—n her, Because, were I to ponder to infinity, The more I should believe in her divinity. 3
She rules the present, past, and all to be yet,
She gives us luck in lotteries, love, and marriage; I cannot say that she's done much for me yet; Not that I mean her bounties to disparage, We 've not yet closed accounts, and we shall see yet How much she 'll make amends for past miscarriage; Meantime the goddess I'll no more importune, Unless to thank her when she's made my fortune.
1 ["I liked the Dandies: they were always very civil to me; though, in general, they disliked literary people, and persecuted and mystified Madame de Stael, Lewis, Horace Twiss, and the like. The truth is, that though I gave up the business early, I had a tinge of Dandyism in my minority, and probably retained enough of it to conciliate the great ones at four and twenty."- Byron Diary, 1821.]
2 ["When Brummell was obliged to retire to France, he knew no French, and having obtained a grammar for the purpose of study, our friend Scrope Davies was asked what progress Brummell had made in French: he responded, ' that Brummell had been stopped, like Buonaparte in Russia, by the elements. I have put this pun into Beppo, which is a fair
Who having angled all his life for fame,
Still fussily keeps fishing on, the same
One hates an author that's all author, fellows
One don't know what to say to them, or think,
Of coxcombry's worst coxcombs e'en the pink
Of these same we see several, and of others,
The poor dear Mussulwomen whom I mention
Unknown as bells within a Turkish steeple ;
Our Christian usage of the parts of speech.
No chemistry for them unfolds her gasses,
No metaphysics are let loose in lectures,
Religious novels, moral tales, and strictures
No exhibition glares with annual pictures;
Why I thank God for that is no great matter,
I have my reasons, you no doubt suppose,
And yet methinks the older that one grows Inclines us more to laugh than scold, though laughter Leaves us so doubly serious shortly after.
Oh, Mirth and Innocence! Oh, Milk and Water!
His thirst with such pure beverage.
I love you both, and both shall have my praise. Oh, for old Saturn's reign of sugar-candy! — Meantime I drink to your return in brandy.
Our Laura's Turk still kept his eyes upon her,
Less in the Mussulman than Christian way,
A stalking oracle of awful phrase,
The approving "Good!" (by no means GOOD in law)| Could staring win a woman, this had won her,
But Laura could not thus be led astray;
The bluest of bluebottles you e'er saw,
The morning now was on the point of breaking,
To make their preparations for forsaking
The ball-room ere the sun begins to rise, Because when once the lamps and candles fail, His blushes make them look a little pale.
[Nothing can be cleverer than this caustic little diatribe, introduced a propos of the life of Turkish ladies in their harams. JEFFREY.]
I've seen some balls and revels in my time,
To see what lady best stood out the season;
The name of this Aurora I'll not mention,
Although I might, for she was nought to me More than that patent work of God's invention, A charming woman, whom we like to see ; But writing names would merit reprehension, Yet if you like to find out this fair she, At the next London or Parisian ball You still may mark her cheek, out-blooming all. LXXXV.
Laura, who knew it would not do at all
To meet the daylight after seven hours' sitting Among three thousand people at a ball,
To make her curtsy thought it right and fitting: The Count was at her elbow with her shawl,
And they the room were on the point of quitting, When lo! those cursed gondoliers had got Just in the very place where they should not.
In this they're like our coachmen, and the cause
They make a never intermitting bawling.
The Count and Laura found their boat at last,
The dancers and their dresses, too, beside;
(As to their palace stairs the rowers glide) Sate Laura by the side of her Adorer, 1 When lo! the Mussulman was there before her.
They reach'd the island, he transferr'd his lading,
Or else the people would perhaps have shot him;
His wife received, the patriarch re-baptized him,
"CELUI qui remplissait alors cette place était un gentilhomme Polonais, nommé Mazeppa, né dans le
1 "You ask me," says Lord Byron, in a letter written in 1820, for a volume of Manners, &c. on Italy. Perhaps I am in the case to know more of them than most Englishmen, because I have lived among the natives, and in parts of the country where Englishmen never resided before (I speak of Romagna and this place particularly); but there are many reasons why I do not choose to treat in print on such a subject. Their moral is not your moral; their life is not your life; you would not understand it: it is not English, nor French, nor German, which you would all understand. The conventual education, the cavalier servitude, the habits of thought and living, are so entirely different, and the difference becomes so much more striking the more you live intimately with them, that I know not how to make you comprehend a people who are at once temperate and profligate, serious in their characters and buffoons in their amusements, capable of impressions and passions, which are at once sudden and durable (what you find in no other nation), and who actually have no society (what we would call so), as you may see by their comedies; they have no real comedy, not even in Goldoni, and that is because they have no society to draw it from. Their conversazioui are not society at all. They go to the theatre to talk, and into company to hold their tongues. The women sit in a circle, and the men gather into groups, or they play at dreary faro, or lotto reale,' for small sums. Their academie are concerts like our own, with better music and more form. Their best things are the carnival balls and masquerades, when every body runs mad for six weeks. After their dinners and suppers they make extempore verses and buffoon one another; but it is in a humour which you would not enter into, ye of the north. - In their houses it is better. As for the women, from the fisherman's wife up to the nobil dama, their system has its rules, and its fitnesses, and its decorums, so as to be reduced to a kind of discipline or game at hearts, which admits few deviations, unless you wish to lose it. They are extremely tenacious, and jealous as furies, not permitting their lovers even to marry if they can help it, and keeping them always close to them in public as in private, whenever they can. In short, they transfer marriage to adultery, and strike the not out of that commandment. The reason is, that they marry for their parents, and love for themselves. They exact fidelity from a lover as a debt of honour, while they pay the husband as a tradesman, that is, not at all. You hear a person's character, male or female, canvassed, not as depending on their conduct to their husbands or wives, but to their mistress or lover. If I wrote a quarto, I don't know that I could do more than amplify what I have here noted."]
2 [This extremely clever and amusing performance affords a very curious and complete specimen of a kind of diction and composition of which our English literature has hitherto presented very few examples. It is, in itself, absolutely a thing of nothing-without story, characters, sentiments, or
His friends the more for his long absence prized him,
For stories-but I don't believe the half of them.
Whate'er his youth had suffer'd, his old age
With wealth and talking make him some amends; Though Laura sometimes put him in a rage,
I've heard the Count and he were always friends. My pen is at the bottom of a page,
Which being finish'd, here the story ends; 'Tis to be wish'd it had been sooner done, But stories somehow lengthen when begun. 2
palatinat de Podolie: il avait été élevé page de Jean Casimir, et avait pris à sa cour quelque teinture des belles-lettres. Une intrigue qu'il eut dans sa jeunesse avec la femme d'un gentilhomme Polonais ayant été
intelligible object; -a mere piece of lively and loquacious prattling, in short, upon all kinds of frivolous subjects, a sort
of gay and desultory babbling about Italy and England, Turks, balls, literature, and fish sauces. But still there is something very engaging in the uniform gaiety, politeness, and good humour of the author, and something still more striking and admirable in the matchless facility with which he has cast into regular, and even difficult, versification the unmingled, unconstrained, and unselected language of the most light, familiar, and ordinary conversation. With great skill and felicity, he has furnished us with an example of about one hundred stanzas of good verse, entirely composed of common words, in their common places; never presenting us with one sprig of what is called poetical diction, or even making use of a single inversion, either to raise the style or assist the rhyme, but running on in an inexhaustible series of good easy colloquial phrases, and finding them fall into verse by some unaccountable and happy fatality. In this great and characteristic quality it is almost invariably excellent. In some other respects, it is more unequal. About one half is as good as possible, in the style to which it belongs; the other half bears, perhaps, too many marks of that haste with which such a work must necessarily be written. Some passages are rather too snappish, and some run too much on the cheap and rather plebeian humour of out-of-the-way rhymes, and strange-sounding words and epithets. But the greater part is extremely pleasant, amiable, and gentlemanlike. - JEFFREY.]
The following "lively, spirited, and pleasant tale," as Mr. Gifford calls it, on the margin of the MS., was written in the autumn of 1818, at Ravenna. We extract the following from a reviewal of the time:-"MAZEPPA is a very fine and spirited sketch of a very noble story, and is every way worthy of its author. The story is a well-known one; namely, that of the young Pole, who, being bound naked on the back of a wild horse, on account of an intrigue with the lady of a certain great noble of his country, was carried by his steed into the heart of the Ukraine, and being there picked up by some Cossacks, in a state apparently of utter hopelessness and exhaustion, recovered, and lived to be long after the prince and leader of the nation among whom he had arrived in this extraordinary manner. Lord Byron has represented the strange and wild incidents of this adventure, as being related in a half serious, half sportive way, by Mazeppa himself, to no less a person than Charles the Twelfth of Sweden, in some of whose last campaigns the Cossack Hetinan took a distinguished part. He tells it during the desolate bivouack of Charles and the few friends who fled with him towards Turkey, after the bloody overthrow of Pultowa. There is not a little of beauty and gracefulness in this way of setting the picture; the age of Mazeppa-the calm, practised indifference with which he now submits to the worst of fortune's deeds—the heroic, unthinking coldness of the royal
découverte, le mari le fit lier tout nu sur un cheval farouche, et le laissa aller en cet état. Le cheval, qui était du pays de l'Ukraine, y retourna, et y porta Mazeppa, demi-mort de fatigue et de faim. Quelques paysans le secoururent: il resta long-tems parmi eux, et se signala dans plusieurs courses contre les Tartares. La supériorité de ses lumières lui donna une grande considération parmi les Cosaques : sa réputation s'augmentant de jour en jour, obligea le Czar à le faire Prince de l'Ukraine."—VOLTAIRE, Hist. de Charles XII. p. 196.
"Le roi fuyant, et poursuivi, eut son cheval tué sous lui; le Colonel Gieta, blessé, et perdant tout son sang, lui donna le sien. Ainsi on remit deux fois à cheval, dans la fuite, ce conquérant qui n'avait pu y monter pendant la bataille."-p. 216.
"Le roi alla par un autre chemin avec quelques cavaliers. Le carrosse où il était rompit dans la marche; on le remit à cheval. Pour comble de disgrace, il s'égara pendant la nuit dans un bois; là, son courage ne pouvant plus supplèer à ses forces épuisées, les douleurs de sa blessure devenues plus insupportables par la fatigue, son cheval étant tombé de lassitude, il se coucha quelques heures au pied d'un arbre, en danger d'être surpris à tout moment par les vainqueurs, qui le cherchaient de tous côtés." p. 218. 1
"T WAS after dread Pultowa's day, When fortune left the royal Swede. Around a slaughter'd army lay,
No more to combat and to bleed. The power and glory of the war,
Faithless as their vain votaries, men, Had pass'd to the triumphant Czar,
And Moscow's walls were safe again, Until a day more dark and drear, And a more memorable year, Should give to slaughter and to shame A mightier host and haughtier name; A greater wreck, a deeper fall,
A shock to one—a thunderbolt to all.
This too sinks after many a league
For which the nations strain their strength?
In outworn nature's agony;
His wounds were stiff-his limbs were stark —
A transient slumber's fitful aid:
A band of chiefs!-alas! how few,
Had thinn'd it; but this wreck was true
And all are fellows in their need. Among the rest, Mazeppa made His pillow in an old oak's shadeHimself as rough, and scarce less old, The Ukraine's hetman, calm and bold: But first, outspent with this long course, The Cossack prince rubb'd down his horse, And made for him a leafy bed,
And smooth'd his fetlocks and his mane, And slack'd his girth, and stripp'd his rein, And joy'd to see how well he fed; For until now he had the dread His wearied courser might refuse To browse beneath the midnight dews: But he was hardy as his lord, And little cared for bed and board; But spirited and docile too; Whate'er was to be done, would do. Shaggy and swift, and strong of limb, All Tartar-like he carried him; Obey'd his voice, and came to call, And knew him in the midst of all: Though thousands were around,—and Night, Without a star, pursued her flight,That steed from sunset until dawn His chief would follow like a fawn.
This done, Mazeppa spread his cloak, And laid his lance beneath his oak, Felt if his arms in order good
The long day's march had well withstood If still the powder fill'd the pan,
And flints unloosen'd kept their lock—
than the account of the love the guilty love-the fruits of which had been so miraculous."]
For some authentic and interesting particulars concerning the Hetman Mazeppa, see Barrow's "Memoir of the Life of Peter the Great."]