Don Juan By Lord Byron Canto XII

It is. I will not swear that black is white;
  But I suspect in fact that white is black,
And the whole matter rests upon eyesight.
  Ask a blind man, the best judge. You 'll attack
Perhaps this new position — but I 'm right;
  Or if I 'm wrong, I 'll not be ta'en aback: —
He hath no morn nor night, but all is dark
Within; and what seest thou? A dubious spark.

But I 'm relapsing into metaphysics,
  That labyrinth, whose clue is of the same
Construction as your cures for hectic phthisics,
  Those bright moths fluttering round a dying flame;
And this reflection brings me to plain physics,
  And to the beauties of a foreign dame,
Compared with those of our pure pearls of price,
Those polar summers, all sun, and some ice.

Or say they are like virtuous mermaids, whose
  Beginnings are fair faces, ends mere fishes; —
Not that there 's not a quantity of those
  Who have a due respect for their own wishes.
Like Russians rushing from hot baths to snows
  Are they, at bottom virtuous even when vicious:
They warm into a scrape, but keep of course,
As a reserve, a plunge into remorse.

But this has nought to do with their outsides.
  I said that Juan did not think them pretty
At the first blush; for a fair Briton hides
  Half her attractions — probably from pity —
And rather calmly into the heart glides,
  Than storms it as a foe would take a city;
But once there (if you doubt this, prithee try)
She keeps it for you like a true ally.

She cannot step as does an Arab barb,
  Or Andalusian girl from mass returning,
Nor wear as gracefully as Gauls her garb,
  Nor in her eye Ausonia's glance is burning;
Her voice, though sweet, is not so fit to warb —
  le those bravuras (which I still am learning
To like, though I have been seven years in Italy,
And have, or had, an ear that served me prettily); —

She cannot do these things, nor one or two
  Others, in that off-hand and dashing style
Which takes so much — to give the devil his due;
  Nor is she quite so ready with her smile,
Nor settles all things in one interview
  (A thing approved as saving time and toil); —
But though the soil may give you time and trouble,
Well cultivated, it will render double.

And if in fact she takes to a 'grande passion,'
  It is a very serious thing indeed:
Nine times in ten 't is but caprice or fashion,
  Coquetry, or a wish to take the lead,
The pride of a mere child with a new sash on,
  Or wish to make a rival's bosom bleed:
But the tenth instance will be a tornado,
For there 's no saying what they will or may do.

The reason 's obvious; if there 's an eclat,
  They lose their caste at once, as do the Parias;
And when the delicacies of the law
  Have fill'd their papers with their comments various,
Society, that china without flaw
  (The hypocrite!), will banish them like Marius,
To sit amidst the ruins of their guilt:
For Fame 's a Carthage not so soon rebuilt.

Perhaps this is as it should be; — it is
  A comment on the Gospel's 'Sin no more,
And be thy sins forgiven:' — but upon this
  I leave the saints to settle their own score.
Abroad, though doubtless they do much amiss,
  An erring woman finds an opener door
For her return to Virtue — as they cal
That lady, who should be at home to all.

For me, I leave the matter where I find it,
  Knowing that such uneasy virtue leads
People some ten times less in fact to mind it,
  And care but for discoveries and not deeds.
And as for chastity, you 'll never bind it
  By all the laws the strictest lawyer pleads,
But aggravate the crime you have not prevented,
By rendering desperate those who had else repented.

But Juan was no casuist, nor had ponder'd
  Upon the moral lessons of mankind:
Besides, he had not seen of several hundred
  A lady altogether to his mind.
A little 'blase' — 't is not to be wonder'd
  At, that his heart had got a tougher rind:
And though not vainer from his past success,
No doubt his sensibilities were less.

He also had been busy seeing sights —
  The Parliament and all the other houses;
Had sat beneath the gallery at nights,
  To hear debates whose thunder roused (not rouses)
The world to gaze upon those northern lights
  Which flash'd as far as where the musk-bull browses;
He had also stood at times behind the throne —
But Grey was not arrived, and Chatham gone.

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