This were the worst desertion: — renegadoes,
Even shuffling Southey, that incarnate lie,
Would scarcely join again the 'reformadoes,'
Whom he forsook to fill the laureate's sty:
And honest men from Iceland to Barbadoes,
Whether in Caledon or Italy,
Should not veer round with every breath, nor seize
To pain, the moment when you cease to please.
The lawyer and the critic but behold
The baser sides of literature and life,
And nought remains unseen, but much untold,
By those who scour those double vales of strife.
While common men grow ignorantly old,
The lawyer's brief is like the surgeon's knife,
Dissecting the whole inside of a question,
And with it all the process of digestion.
A legal broom 's a moral chimney-sweeper,
And that 's the reason he himself 's so dirty;
The endless soot bestows a tint far deeper
Than can be hid by altering his shirt; he
Retains the sable stains of the dark creeper,
At least some twenty-nine do out of thirty,
In all their habits; — not so you, I own;
As Caesar wore his robe you wear your gown.
And all our little feuds, at least all mine,
Dear Jefferson, once my most redoubted foe
(As far as rhyme and criticism combine
To make such puppets of us things below),
Are over: Here 's a health to 'Auld Lang Syne!'
I do not know you, and may never know
Your face — but you have acted on the whole
Most nobly, and I own it from my soul.
And when I use the phrase of 'Auld Lang Syne!'
'T is not address'd to you — the more 's the pity
For me, for I would rather take my wine
With you, than aught (save Scott) in your proud city.
But somehow, — it may seem a schoolboy's whine,
And yet I seek not to be grand nor witty,
But I am half a Scot by birth, and bred
A whole one, and my heart flies to my head, —
As 'Auld Lang Syne' brings Scotland, one and all,
Scotch plaids, Scotch snoods, the blue hills, and clear streams,
The Dee, the Don, Balgounie's brig's black wall,
All my boy feelings, all my gentler dreams
Of what I then dreamt, clothed in their own pall,
Like Banquo's offspring; — floating past me seems
My childhood in this childishness of mine:
I care not — 't is a glimpse of 'Auld Lang Syne.'
And though, as you remember, in a fit
Of wrath and rhyme, when juvenile and curly,
I rail'd at Scots to show my wrath and wit,
Which must be own'd was sensitive and surly,
Yet 't is in vain such sallies to permit,
They cannot quench young feelings fresh and early:
I 'scotch'd not kill'd' the Scotchman in my blood,
And love the land of 'mountain and of flood.'
Don Juan, who was real, or ideal, —
For both are much the same, since what men think
Exists when the once thinkers are less real
Than what they thought, for mind can never sink,
And 'gainst the body makes a strong appeal;
And yet 't is very puzzling on the brink
Of what is call'd eternity, to stare,
And know no more of what is here, than there; —
Don Juan grew a very polish'd Russian —
How we won't mention, why we need not say:
Few youthful minds can stand the strong concussion
Of any slight temptation in their way;
But his just now were spread as is a cushion
Smooth'd for a monarch's seat of honour; gay
Damsels, and dances, revels, ready money,
Made ice seem paradise, and winter sunny.
The favour of the empress was agreeable;
And though the duty wax'd a little hard,
Young people at his time of life should be able
To come off handsomely in that regard.
He was now growing up like a green tree, able
For love, war, or ambition, which reward
Their luckier votaries, till old age's tedium
Make some prefer the circulating medium.
About this time, as might have been anticipated,
Seduced by youth and dangerous examples,
Don Juan grew, I fear, a little dissipated;
Which is a sad thing, and not only tramples
On our fresh feelings, but — as being participated
With all kinds of incorrigible samples
Of frail humanity — must make us selfish,
And shut our souls up in us like a shell-fish.
This we pass over. We will also pass
The usual progress of intrigues between
Unequal matches, such as are, alas!
A young lieutenant's with a not old queen,
But one who is not so youthful as she was
In all the royalty of sweet seventeen.
Sovereigns may sway materials, but not matter,