Don Juan By Lord Byron Canto XII

And now to business. — O my gentle Juan,
  Thou art in London — in that pleasant place,
Where every kind of mischief 's daily brewing,
  Which can await warm youth in its wild race.
'T is true, that thy career is not a new one;
  Thou art no novice in the headlong chase
Of early life; but this is a new land,
Which foreigners can never understand.

What with a small diversity of climate,
  Of hot or cold, mercurial or sedate,
I could send forth my mandate like a primate
  Upon the rest of Europe's social state;
But thou art the most difficult to rhyme at,
  Great Britain, which the Muse may penetrate.
All countries have their 'Lions,' but in the
There is but one superb menagerie.

But I am sick of politics. Begin,
  'Paulo Majora.' Juan, undecided
Amongst the paths of being 'taken in,'
  Above the ice had like a skater glided:
When tired of play, he flirted without sin
  With some of those fair creatures who have prided
Themselves on innocent tantalisation,
And hate all vice except its reputation.

But these are few, and in the end they make
  Some devilish escapade or stir, which shows
That even the purest people may mistake
  Their way through virtue's primrose paths of snows;
And then men stare, as if a new ass spake
  To Balaam, and from tongue to ear o'erflows
Quicksilver small talk, ending (if you note it)
With the kind world's amen — 'Who would have thought it?'

The little Leila, with her orient eyes,
  And taciturn Asiatic disposition
(Which saw all western things with small surprise,
  To the surprise of people of condition,
Who think that novelties are butterflies
  To be pursued as food for inanition),
Her charming figure and romantic history
Became a kind of fashionable mystery.

The women much divided — as is usual
  Amongst the sex in little things or great.
Think not, fair creatures, that I mean to abuse you all —
  I have always liked you better than I state:
Since I 've grown moral, still I must accuse you all
  Of being apt to talk at a great rate;
And now there was a general sensation
Amongst you, about Leila's education.

In one point only were you settled — and
  You had reason; 't was that a young child of grace,
As beautiful as her own native land,
  And far away, the last bud of her race,
Howe'er our friend Don Juan might command
  Himself for five, four, three, or two years' space,
Would be much better taught beneath the eye
Of peeresses whose follies had run dry.

So first there was a generous emulation,
  And then there was a general competition,
To undertake the orphan's education.
  As Juan was a person of condition,
It had been an affront on this occasion
  To talk of a subscription or petition;
But sixteen dowagers, ten unwed she sages,
Whose tale belongs to 'Hallam's Middle Ages,'

And one or two sad, separate wives, without
  A fruit to bloom upon their withering bough —
Begg'd to bring up the little girl and 'out,'-
  For that 's the phrase that settles all things now,
Meaning a virgin's first blush at a rout,
  And all her points as thorough-bred to show:
And I assure you, that like virgin honey
Tastes their first season (mostly if they have money).

How all the needy honourable misters,
  Each out-at-elbow peer, or desperate dandy,
The watchful mothers, and the careful sisters
  (Who, by the by, when clever, are more handy
At making matches, where ''t is gold that glisters,'
  Than their he relatives), like flies o'er candy
Buzz round 'the Fortune' with their busy battery,
To turn her head with waltzing and with flattery!

Each aunt, each cousin, hath her speculation;
  Nay, married dames will now and then discover
Such pure disinterestedness of passion,
  I 've known them court an heiress for their lover.
'Tantaene!' Such the virtues of high station,
  Even in the hopeful Isle, whose outlet 's 'Dover!'
While the poor rich wretch, object of these cares,
Has cause to wish her sire had had male heirs.

Some are soon bagg'd, and some reject three dozen.
  'T is fine to see them scattering refusals
And wild dismay o'er every angry cousin
  (Friends of the party), who begin accusals,
Such as — 'Unless Miss (Blank) meant to have chosen
  Poor Frederick, why did she accord perusals
To his billets? Why waltz with him? Why, I pray,
Look yes last night, and yet say no to-day?

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