Don Juan By Lord Byron Canto XI

Juan yet quickly understood their gesture,
  And being somewhat choleric and sudden,
Drew forth a pocket pistol from his vesture,
  And fired it into one assailant's pudding —
Who fell, as rolls an ox o'er in his pasture,
  And roar'd out, as he writhed his native mud in,
Unto his nearest follower or henchman,
'Oh Jack! I 'm floor'd by that 'ere bloody Frenchman!'

On which Jack and his train set off at speed,
  And Juan's suite, late scatter'd at a distance,
Came up, all marvelling at such a deed,
  And offering, as usual, late assistance.
Juan, who saw the moon's late minion bleed
  As if his veins would pour out his existence,
Stood calling out for bandages and lint,
And wish'd he had been less hasty with his flint.

'Perhaps,' thought he, 'it is the country's wont
  To welcome foreigners in this way: now
I recollect some innkeepers who don't
  Differ, except in robbing with a bow,
In lieu of a bare blade and brazen front.
  But what is to be done? I can't allow
The fellow to lie groaning on the road:
So take him up; I 'll help you with the load.'

But ere they could perform this pious duty,
  The dying man cried, 'Hold! I 've got my gruel!
O for a glass of max! We 've miss'd our booty;
  Let me die where I am!' And as the fuel
Of life shrunk in his heart, and thick and sooty
  The drops fell from his death-wound, and he drew ill
His breath, — he from his swelling throat untied
A kerchief, crying, 'Give Sal that!' — and died.

The cravat stain'd with bloody drops fell down
  Before Don Juan's feet: he could not tell
Exactly why it was before him thrown,
  Nor what the meaning of the man's farewell.
Poor Tom was once a kiddy upon town,
  A thorough varmint, and a real swell,
Full flash, all fancy, until fairly diddled,
His pockets first and then his body riddled.

Don Juan, having done the best he could
  In all the circumstances of the case,
As soon as 'Crowner's quest' allow'd, pursued
  His travels to the capital apace; —
Esteeming it a little hard he should
  In twelve hours' time, and very little space,
Have been obliged to slay a freeborn native
In self-defence: this made him meditative.

He from the world had cut off a great man,
  Who in his time had made heroic bustle.
Who in a row like Tom could lead the van,
  Booze in the ken, or at the spellken hustle?
Who queer a flat? Who (spite of Bow Street's ban)
  On the high toby-spice so flash the muzzle?
Who on a lark, with black-eyed Sal (his blowing),
So prime, so swell, so nutty, and so knowing?

But Tom's no more — and so no more of Tom.
  Heroes must die; and by God's blessing 't is
Not long before the most of them go home.
  Hail! Thamis, Hail! Upon thy verge it is
That Juan's chariot, rolling like a drum
  In thunder, holds the way it can't well miss,
Through Kennington and all the other 'tons,'
Which makes us wish ourselves in town at once; —

Through Groves, so call'd as being void of trees
  (Like lucus from no light); through prospects named
Mount Pleasant, as containing nought to please,
  Nor much to climb; through little boxes framed
Of bricks, to let the dust in at your ease,
  With 'To be let' upon their doors proclaim'd;
Through 'Rows' most modestly call'd 'Paradise,'
Which Eve might quit without much sacrifice; —

Through coaches, drays, choked turnpikes, and a whirl
  Of wheels, and roar of voices, and confusion;
Here taverns wooing to a pint of 'purl,'
  There mails fast flying off like a delusion;
There barbers' blocks with periwigs in curl
  In windows; here the lamplighter's infusion
Slowly distill'd into the glimmering glass
(For in those days we had not got to gas); —

Through this, and much, and more, is the approach
  Of travellers to mighty Babylon:
Whether they come by horse, or chaise, or coach,
  With slight exceptions, all the ways seem one.
I could say more, but do not choose to encroach
  Upon the Guide-book's privilege. The sun
Had set some time, and night was on the ridge
Of twilight, as the party cross'd the bridge, —

That 's rather fine. The gentle sound of Thamis —
  Who vindicates a moment, too, his stream,
Though hardly heard through multifarious 'damme's'-
  The lamps of Westminster's more regular gleam,
The breadth of pavement, and yon shrine where fame is
  A spectral resident — whose pallid beam
In shape of moonshine hovers o'er the pile —
Make this a sacred part of Albion's isle.

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

After Don Juan escapes from Constantinople, he is embroiled in the battle of




Quiz