He saw, however, at the closing session,
That noble sight, when really free the nation,
A king in constitutional possession
Of such a throne as is the proudest station,
Though despots know it not — till the progression
Of freedom shall complete their education.
'T is not mere splendour makes the show august
To eye or heart — it is the people's trust.
There, too, he saw (whate'er he may be now)
A Prince, the prince of princes at the time,
With fascination in his very bow,
And full of promise, as the spring of prime.
Though royalty was written on his brow,
He had then the grace, too, rare in every clime,
Of being, without alloy of fop or beau,
A finish'd gentleman from top to toe.
And Juan was received, as hath been said,
Into the best society: and there
Occurr'd what often happens, I 'm afraid,
However disciplined and debonnaire: —
The talent and good humour he display'd,
Besides the mark'd distinction of his air,
Exposed him, as was natural, to temptation,
Even though himself avoided the occasion.
But what, and where, with whom, and when, and why,
Is not to be put hastily together;
And as my object is morality
(Whatever people say), I don't know whether
I 'll leave a single reader's eyelid dry,
But harrow up his feelings till they wither,
And hew out a huge monument of pathos,
As Philip's son proposed to do with Athos.
Here the twelfth Canto of our introduction
Ends. When the body of the book 's begun,
You 'll find it of a different construction
From what some people say 't will be when done:
The plan at present 's simply in concoction,
I can't oblige you, reader, to read on;
That 's your affair, not mine: a real spirit
Should neither court neglect, nor dread to bear it.
And if my thunderbolt not always rattles,
Remember, reader! you have had before
The worst of tempests and the best of battles
That e'er were brew'd from elements or gore,
Besides the most sublime of — Heaven knows what else:
An usurer could scarce expect much more —
But my best canto, save one on astronomy,
Will turn upon 'political economy.'
That is your present theme for popularity:
Now that the public hedge hath scarce a stake,
It grows an act of patriotic charity,
To show the people the best way to break.
My plan (but I, if but for singularity,
Reserve it) will be very sure to take.
Meantime, read all the national debt-sinkers,
And tell me what you think of your great thinkers.