CANTO THE SECOND.
O ye! who teach the ingenuous youth of nations,
Holland, France, England, Germany, or Spain,
I pray ye flog them upon all occasions,
It mends their morals, never mind the pain:
The best of mothers and of educations
In Juan's case were but employ'd in vain,
Since, in a way that 's rather of the oddest, he
Became divested of his native modesty.
Had he but been placed at a public school,
In the third form, or even in the fourth,
His daily task had kept his fancy cool,
At least, had he been nurtured in the north;
Spain may prove an exception to the rule,
But then exceptions always prove its worth —
A lad of sixteen causing a divorce
Puzzled his tutors very much, of course.
I can't say that it puzzles me at all,
If all things be consider'd: first, there was
His lady — mother, mathematical,
A — never mind; his tutor, an old ass;
A pretty woman (that 's quite natural,
Or else the thing had hardly come to pass);
A husband rather old, not much in unity
With his young wife — a time, and opportunity.
Well — well, the world must turn upon its axis,
And all mankind turn with it, heads or tails,
And live and die, make love and pay our taxes,
And as the veering wind shifts, shift our sails;
The king commands us, and the doctor quacks us,
The priest instructs, and so our life exhales,
A little breath, love, wine, ambition, fame,
Fighting, devotion, dust, — perhaps a name.
I said that Juan had been sent to Cadiz —
A pretty town, I recollect it well —
'T is there the mart of the colonial trade is
(Or was, before Peru learn'd to rebel),
And such sweet girls — I mean, such graceful ladies,
Their very walk would make your bosom swell;
I can't describe it, though so much it strike,
Nor liken it — I never saw the like:
An Arab horse, a stately stag, a barb
New broke, a cameleopard, a gazelle,
No — none of these will do; — and then their garb!
Their veil and petticoat — Alas! to dwell
Upon such things would very near absorb
A canto — then their feet and ankles, — well,
Thank Heaven I 've got no metaphor quite ready
(And so, my sober Muse — come, let 's be steady —
Chaste Muse! — well, if you must, you must) — the veil
Thrown back a moment with the glancing hand,
While the o'erpowering eye, that turns you pale,
Flashes into the heart: — All sunny land
Of love! when I forget you, may I fail
To — say my prayers — but never was there plann'd
A dress through which the eyes give such a volley,
Excepting the Venetian Fazzioli.
But to our tale: the Donna Inez sent
Her son to Cadiz only to embark;
To stay there had not answer'd her intent,
But why? — we leave the reader in the dark —
'T was for a voyage that the young man was meant,
As if a Spanish ship were Noah's ark,
To wean him from the wickedness of earth,
And send him like a dove of promise forth.
Don Juan bade his valet pack his things
According to direction, then received
A lecture and some money: for four springs
He was to travel; and though Inez grieved
(As every kind of parting has its stings),
She hoped he would improve — perhaps believed:
A letter, too, she gave (he never read it)
Of good advice — and two or three of credit.
In the mean time, to pass her hours away,
Brave Inez now set up a Sunday school
For naughty children, who would rather play
(Like truant rogues) the devil, or the fool;
Infants of three years old were taught that day,
Dunces were whipt, or set upon a stool:
The great success of Juan's education,
Spurr'd her to teach another generation.
Juan embark'd — the ship got under way,
The wind was fair, the water passing rough:
A devil of a sea rolls in that bay,
As I, who 've cross'd it oft, know well enough;
And, standing upon deck, the dashing spray
Flies in one's face, and makes it weather-tough:
And there he stood to take, and take again,
His first — perhaps his last — farewell of Spain.
I can't but say it is an awkward sight
To see one's native land receding through
The growing waters; it unmans one quite,
Especially when life is rather new:
I recollect Great Britain's coast looks white,
But almost every other country 's blue,
When gazing on them, mystified by distance,
We enter on our nautical existence.