O! ye great authors luminous, voluminous!
Ye twice ten hundred thousand daily scribes!
Whose pamphlets, volumes, newspapers, illumine us!
Whether you 're paid by government in bribes,
To prove the public debt is not consuming us —
Or, roughly treading on the 'courtier's kibes'
With clownish heel, your popular circulation
Feeds you by printing half the realm's starvation; —
O, ye great authors! — 'Apropos des bottes,'-
I have forgotten what I meant to say,
As sometimes have been greater sages' lots;
'T was something calculated to allay
All wrath in barracks, palaces, or cots:
Certes it would have been but thrown away,
And that 's one comfort for my lost advice,
Although no doubt it was beyond all price.
But let it go: — it will one day be found
With other relics of 'a former world,'
When this world shall be former, underground,
Thrown topsy-turvy, twisted, crisp'd, and curl'd,
Baked, fried, or burnt, turn'd inside-out, or drown'd,
Like all the worlds before, which have been hurl'd
First out of, and then back again to chaos,
The superstratum which will overlay us.
So Cuvier says; — and then shall come again
Unto the new creation, rising out
From our old crash, some mystic, ancient strain
Of things destroy'd and left in airy doubt:
Like to the notions we now entertain
Of Titans, giants, fellows of about
Some hundred feet in height, not to say miles,
And mammoths, and your winged crocodiles.
Think if then George the Fourth should be dug up!
How the new worldlings of the then new East
Will wonder where such animals could sup!
(For they themselves will be but of the least:
Even worlds miscarry, when too oft they pup,
And every new creation hath decreased
In size, from overworking the material —
Men are but maggots of some huge Earth's burial.)
How will — to these young people, just thrust out
From some fresh Paradise, and set to plough,
And dig, and sweat, and turn themselves about,
And plant, and reap, and spin, and grind, and sow,
Till all the arts at length are brought about,
Especially of war and taxing, — how,
I say, will these great relics, when they see 'em,
Look like the monsters of a new museum?
But I am apt to grow too metaphysical:
'The time is out of joint,' — and so am I;
I quite forget this poem 's merely quizzical,
And deviate into matters rather dry.
I ne'er decide what I shall say, and this I cal
Much too poetical: men should know why
They write, and for what end; but, note or text,
I never know the word which will come next.
So on I ramble, now and then narrating,
Now pondering: — it is time we should narrate.
I left Don Juan with his horses baiting —
Now we 'll get o'er the ground at a great rate.
I shall not be particular in stating
His journey, we 've so many tours of late:
Suppose him then at Petersburgh; suppose
That pleasant capital of painted snows;
Suppose him in a handsome uniform, —
A scarlet coat, black facings, a long plume,
Waving, like sails new shiver'd in a storm,
Over a cock'd hat in a crowded room,
And brilliant breeches, bright as a Cairn Gorme,
Of yellow casimere we may presume,
White stocking drawn uncurdled as new milk
O'er limbs whose symmetry set off the silk;
Suppose him sword by side, and hat in hand,
Made up by youth, fame, and an army tailor —
That great enchanter, at whose rod's command
Beauty springs forth, and Nature's self turns paler,
Seeing how Art can make her work more grand
(When she don't pin men's limbs in like a gaoler), —
Behold him placed as if upon a pillar! He
Seems Love turn'd a lieutenant of artillery: —
His bandage slipp'd down into a cravat;
His wings subdued to epaulettes; his quiver
Shrunk to a scabbard, with his arrows at
His side as a small sword, but sharp as ever;
His bow converted into a cock'd hat;
But still so like, that Psyche were more clever
Than some wives (who make blunders no less stupid),
If she had not mistaken him for Cupid.
The courtiers stared, the ladies whisper'd, and
The empress smiled: the reigning favourite frown'd —
I quite forget which of them was in hand
Just then; as they are rather numerous found,
Who took by turns that difficult command
Since first her majesty was singly crown'd:
But they were mostly nervous six-foot fellows,
All fit to make a Patagonian jealous.