Don Juan By Lord Byron Canto XVI

Sooner 'come lace into the civil list
  And champion him to the utmost' — he would keep it,
Till duly disappointed or dismiss'd:
  Profit he care not for, let others reap it;
But should the day come when place ceased to exist,
  The country would have far more cause to weep it:
For how could it go on? Explain who can!
He gloried in the name of Englishman.

He was as independent — ay, much more —
  Than those who were not paid for independence,
As common soldiers, or a common — shore,
  Have in their several arts or parts ascendance
O'er the irregulars in lust or gore,
  Who do not give professional attendance.
Thus on the mob all statesmen are as eager
To prove their pride, as footmen to a beggar.

All this (save the last stanza) Henry said,
  And thought. I say no more — I 've said too much;
For all of us have either heard or read —
  Off — or upon the hustings — some slight such
Hints from the independent heart or head
  Of the official candidate. I 'll touch
No more on this — the dinner-bell hath rung,
And grace is said; the grace I should have sung —

But I 'm too late, and therefore must make play.
  'T was a great banquet, such as Albion old
Was wont to boast — as if a glutton's tray
  Were something very glorious to behold.
But 't was a public feast and public day, —
  Quite full, right dull, guests hot, and dishes cold,
Great plenty, much formality, small cheer,
And every body out of their own sphere.

The squires familiarly formal, and
  My lords and ladies proudly condescending;
The very servants puzzling how to hand
  Their plates — without it might be too much bending
From their high places by the sideboard's stand —
  Yet, like their masters, fearful of offending.
For any deviation from the graces
Might cost both man and master too — their places.

There were some hunters bold, and coursers keen,
  Whose hounds ne'er err'd, nor greyhounds deign'd to lurch;
Some deadly shots too, Septembrizers, seen
  Earliest to rise, and last to quit the search
Of the poor partridge through his stubble screen.
  There were some massy members of the church,
Takers of tithes, and makers of good matches,
And several who sung fewer psalms than catches.

There were some country wags too — and, alas!
  Some exiles from the town, who had been driven
To gaze, instead of pavement, upon grass,
  And rise at nine in lieu of long eleven.
And lo! upon that day it came to pass,
  I sate next that o'erwhelming son of heaven,
The very powerful parson, Peter Pith,
The loudest wit I e'er was deafen'd with.

I knew him in his livelier London days,
  A brilliant diner out, though but a curate;
And not a joke he cut but earn'd its praise,
  Until preferment, coming at a sure rate
(O Providence! how wondrous are thy ways!
  Who would suppose thy gifts sometimes obdurate?),
Gave him, to lay the devil who looks o'er Lincoln,
A fat fen vicarage, and nought to think on.

His jokes were sermons, and his sermons jokes;
  But both were thrown away amongst the fens;
For wit hath no great friend in aguish folks.
  No longer ready ears and short-hand pens
Imbibed the gay bon-mot, or happy hoax:
  The poor priest was reduced to common sense,
Or to coarse efforts very loud and long,
To hammer a horse laugh from the thick throng.

There is a difference, says the song, 'between
  A beggar and a queen,' or was (of late
The latter worse used of the two we 've seen —
  But we 'll say nothing of affairs of state);
A difference ''twixt a bishop and a dean,'
  A difference between crockery ware and plate,
As between English beef and Spartan broth —
And yet great heroes have been bred by both.

But of all nature's discrepancies, none
  Upon the whole is greater than the difference
Beheld between the country and the town,
  Of which the latter merits every preference
From those who have few resources of their own,
  And only think, or act, or feel, with reference
To some small plan of interest or ambition —
Both which are limited to no condition.

But 'en avant!' The light loves languish o'er
  Long banquets and too many guests, although
A slight repast makes people love much more,
  Bacchus and Ceres being, as we know
Even from our grammar upwards, friends of yore
  With vivifying Venus, who doth owe
To these the invention of champagne and truffles:
Temperance delights her, but long fasting ruffles.

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