Don Juan By Lord Byron Canto XII

I don't mean this as general, but particular
  Examples may be found of such pursuits:
Though several also keep their perpendicular
  Like poplars, with good principles for roots;
Yet many have a method more reticular —
  'Fishers for men,' like sirens with soft lutes:
For talk six times with the same single lady,
And you may get the wedding dresses ready.

Perhaps you 'll have a letter from the mother,
  To say her daughter's feelings are trepann'd;
Perhaps you 'll have a visit from the brother,
  All strut, and stays, and whiskers, to demand
What 'your intentions are?' — One way or other
  It seems the virgin's heart expects your hand:
And between pity for her case and yours,
You 'll add to Matrimony's list of cures.

I 've known a dozen weddings made even thus,
  And some of them high names: I have also known
Young men who — though they hated to discuss
  Pretensions which they never dream'd to have shown —
Yet neither frighten'd by a female fuss,
  Nor by mustachios moved, were let alone,
And lived, as did the broken-hearted fair,
In happier plight than if they form'd a pair.

There 's also nightly, to the uninitiated,
  A peril — not indeed like love or marriage,
But not the less for this to be depreciated:
  It is — I meant and mean not to disparage
The show of virtue even in the vitiated —
  It adds an outward grace unto their carriage —
But to denounce the amphibious sort of harlot,
'Couleur de rose,' who 's neither white nor scarlet.

Such is your cold coquette, who can't say 'No,'
  And won't say 'Yes,' and keeps you on and off-ing
On a lee-shore, till it begins to blow —
  Then sees your heart wreck'd, with an inward scoffing.
This works a world of sentimental woe,
  And sends new Werters yearly to their coffin;
But yet is merely innocent flirtation,
Not quite adultery, but adulteration.

'Ye gods, I grow a talker!' Let us prate.
  The next of perils, though I place it sternest,
Is when, without regard to 'church or state,'
  A wife makes or takes love in upright earnest.
Abroad, such things decide few women's fate —
  (Such, early traveller! is the truth thou learnest) —
But in old England, when a young bride errs,
Poor thing! Eve's was a trifling case to hers.

For 't is a low, newspaper, humdrum, lawsuit
  Country, where a young couple of the same ages
Can't form a friendship, but the world o'erawes it.
A verdict — grievous foe to those who cause it!-
  Forms a sad climax to romantic homages;
Besides those soothing speeches of the pleaders,
And evidences which regale all readers.

But they who blunder thus are raw beginners;
  A little genial sprinkling of hypocrisy
Has saved the fame of thousand splendid sinners,
  The loveliest oligarchs of our gynocracy;
You may see such at all the balls and dinners,
  Among the proudest of our aristocracy,
So gentle, charming, charitable, chaste —
And all by having tact as well as taste.

Juan, who did not stand in the predicament
  Of a mere novice, had one safeguard more;
For he was sick — no, 't was not the word sick I meant —
  But he had seen so much love before,
That he was not in heart so very weak; — I meant
  But thus much, and no sneer against the shore
Of white cliffs, white necks, blue eyes, bluer stockings,
Tithes, taxes, duns, and doors with double knockings.

But coming young from lands and scenes romantic,
  Where lives, not lawsuits, must be risk'd for Passion,
And Passion's self must have a spice of frantic,
  Into a country where 't is half a fashion,
Seem'd to him half commercial, half pedantic,
  Howe'er he might esteem this moral nation:
Besides (alas! his taste — forgive and pity!)
At first he did not think the women pretty.

I say at first — for he found out at last,
  But by degrees, that they were fairer far
Than the more glowing dames whose lot is cast
  Beneath the influence of the eastern star.
A further proof we should not judge in haste;
  Yet inexperience could not be his bar
To taste: — the truth is, if men would confess,
That novelties please less than they impress.

Though travell'd, I have never had the luck to
  Trace up those shuffling negroes, Nile or Niger,
To that impracticable place, Timbuctoo,
  Where Geography finds no one to oblige her
With such a chart as may be safely stuck to —
  For Europe ploughs in Afric like 'bos piger:'
But if I had been at Timbuctoo, there
No doubt I should be told that black is fair.

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