On with the horses! Off to Canterbury!
Tramp, tramp o'er pebble, and splash, splash through puddle;
Hurrah! how swiftly speeds the post so merry!
Not like slow Germany, wherein they muddle
Along the road, as if they went to bury
Their fare; and also pause besides, to fuddle
With 'schnapps' — sad dogs! whom 'Hundsfot,' or 'Verflucter,'
Affect no more than lightning a conductor.
Now there is nothing gives a man such spirits,
Leavening his blood as cayenne doth a curry,
As going at full speed — no matter where its
Direction be, so 't is but in a hurry,
And merely for the sake of its own merits;
For the less cause there is for all this flurry,
The greater is the pleasure in arriving
At the great end of travel — which is driving.
They saw at Canterbury the cathedral;
Black Edward's helm, and Becket's bloody stone,
Were pointed out as usual by the bedral,
In the same quaint, uninterested tone: —
There 's glory again for you, gentle reader! All
Ends in a rusty casque and dubious bone,
Half-solved into these sodas or magnesias;
Which form that bitter draught, the human species.
The effect on Juan was of course sublime:
He breathed a thousand Cressys, as he saw
That casque, which never stoop'd except to Time.
Even the bold Churchman's tomb excited awe,
Who died in the then great attempt to climb
O'er kings, who now at least must talk of law
Before they butcher. Little Leila gazed,
And ask'd why such a structure had been raised:
And being told it was 'God's house,' she said
He was well lodged, but only wonder'd how
He suffer'd Infidels in his homestead,
The cruel Nazarenes, who had laid low
His holy temples in the lands which bred
The True Believers: — and her infant brow
Was bent with grief that Mahomet should resign
A mosque so noble, flung like pearls to swine.
O! oh! through meadows managed like a garden,
A paradise of hops and high production;
For after years of travel by a bard in
Countries of greater heat, but lesser suction,
A green field is a sight which makes him pardon
The absence of that more sublime construction,
Which mixes up vines, olives, precipices,
Glaciers, volcanos, oranges, and ices.
And when I think upon a pot of beer —
But I won't weep! — and so drive on, postilions!
As the smart boys spurr'd fast in their career,
Juan admired these highways of free millions;
A country in all senses the most dear
To foreigner or native, save some silly ones,
Who 'kick against the pricks' just at this juncture,
And for their pains get only a fresh puncture.
What a delightful thing 's a turnpike road!
So smooth, so level, such a mode of shaving
The earth, as scarce the eagle in the broad
Air can accomplish, with his wide wings waving.
Had such been cut in Phaeton's time, the god
Had told his son to satisfy his craving
With the York mail; — but onward as we roll,
'Surgit amari aliquid' — the toll
Alas, how deeply painful is all payment!
Take lives, take wives, take aught except men's purses:
As Machiavel shows those in purple raiment,
Such is the shortest way to general curses.
They hate a murderer much less than a claimant
On that sweet ore which every body nurses; —
Kill a man's family, and he may brook it,
But keep your hands out of his breeches' pocket.
So said the Florentine: ye monarchs, hearken
To your instructor. Juan now was borne,
Just as the day began to wane and darken,
O'er the high hill, which looks with pride or scorn
Toward the great city. — Ye who have a spark in
Your veins of Cockney spirit, smile or mourn
According as you take things well or ill; —
Bold Britons, we are now on Shooter's Hill!
The sun went down, the smoke rose up, as from
A half-unquench'd volcano, o'er a space
Which well beseem'd the 'Devil's drawing-room,'
As some have qualified that wondrous place:
But Juan felt, though not approaching home,
As one who, though he were not of the race,
Revered the soil, of those true sons the mother,
Who butcher'd half the earth, and bullied t' other.
A mighty mass of brick, and smoke, and shipping,
Dirty and dusky, but as wide as eye
Could reach, with here and there a sail just skipping
In sight, then lost amidst the forestry
Of masts; a wilderness of steeples peeping
On tiptoe through their sea-coal canopy;
A huge, dun cupola, like a foolscap crown
On a fool's head — and there is London Town!