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But to my story.—'Twas some years ago,

It may be thirty, forty, more or less,
The carnival was at its height, and so

Were all kinds of buffoonery and dress; A certain lady went to see the show,

Her real name I know not, nor can guess,
And so we'll call her Laura, if you please,
Because it slips into my verse with ease.

She was not old, nor young, nor at the years

Which certain people call a « certain age,


the most uncertain age appears, Because I never heard, nor could engage A person yet by prayers, or bribes, or tears,

To name, define by speech, or write on page, The period meant precisely by that word, Which surely is exceedingly absurd.

Laura was blooming still, had made the best

Of time, and time returned the compliment,
And treated her genteelly, so that, drest,

She looked extremely well where'er she went : A pretty woman is a welcome guest,

And Laura's brow a frown had rarely bent ; Indeed she shone all smiles, and seemed to flatter Mankind with her black eyes for looking at her.

She was a married woman; 'tis convenient,

Because in Christian countries 'tis a rule
To view their little slips with eyes more lenient';

Whereas, if single ladies play the fool,

(Unless, within the period intervenient,

A well-timed wedding makes the scandal cool) I don't know how they ever can get over it, Except they manage never to discover it.

Her husband sailed upon the Adriatic,

And made some voyages, too, in other seas,
And when he lay in quarantine for pratique,

( A forty days' precaution 'gainst disease, ) His wife would mount, at times, her highest attic,

For thence she could discern the ship with ease:
He was a merchant trading to Aleppo,
His naine Giuseppe, called more briefly, Beppo (1).

He was a man as dusky as a Spaniard,

Sunburnt with travel, yet a porty figure,
Though coloured, as it were, within a tanyard;

He was a person both of sense and vigourA better seaman never yet did man yard :

And she, although her manners shewed no rigour,
Was deemed a woman of the strictest principle,
So much as to be thought almost invincible.

But several years elapsed since they had met;

Some people thought the ship was lost, and some That he had somehow blundered into debt,

And did not like the thoughts of steering home ; And there were several offered any bet,

Or that he would, or that he would not come, For most men ( till by losing rendered sager) Will back their own opinious with a wager.

(1) Beppo is the Joe of the Italian Joseph.

XXVIII. 'Tis said that their last parting was pathetic,

As partings often are, or ought to be, And their presentiment was quite prophetic

That they should never more each other see, (A sort of morbid feeling, half poetic,

Which I have known occur in two or three)
When kneeling on the shore upon her sad knee,
He left this Adriatic Ariadne.

And Laura waited long, and wept a little,

And thought of wearing weeds, as well she might; She almost lost all appetite for victual,

And could not sleep with ease alone at night; She deemed the window-frames and shutters brittle

Against a daring house-breaker or sprite, And so she thought it prudent to connect her With a vice-husband, chiefly to protect her.

XXX. She chose, (and what is there they will not choose,

If only you will but oppose their choice?) Till Beppo should return from his long cruise,

And bid once more her faithful heart rejoice,
A man some women like, and yet abuse-

A coxcomb was he by the public voice;
A count of wealth, they said, as well as quality,
And in his pleasures of great liberality.

And then he was a count, and then he knew

Music and dancing, fiddling, French and Tuscan; T'he last not easy, be it known to you,

For few Italians speak the right Etruscan.

He was a critic upon operas too,

And knew all niceties of the sock and buskiu;
And no Venetian audience could endure a
Song, scene, or air, when he cried « seccatura. »


His « bravo » was decisive, for that sound

Hushed « academie, » sighed in silent awe;
The fiddlers trembled as he looked around,

For fear of some false note's detected flaw.
The « prima donna's » tuneful heart would bound,

Dreading the deep damnation of his « bah! »
Soprano, basso, even the contra-alto,
Wished him five fathom under the Rialto.


He patroniz'd the Improvisatori,

Nay, could himself extemporize some stanzas, Wrote rhymes, sang songs, could also tell a story,

Sold pictures, and was skilful in the dance as Italians can be, though in this their glory

Must surely yield the palm to that which France has; In short, he was a perfect cavaliero, And to his very valet seem'd a hero.


Then he was faithful too, as well as amorous,

So that no sort of female could complain;
Although they're now and then a little clamorous,

He never put the pretty souls in pain;
His heart was one of those which most. enamour 45,

Wax to receive, and marble to retain.
He was a lover of the good old school,
Who still become more constant as they cool.

No wonder such accomplishments should turn

A female head, however sage and steady-
With scarce a hope that Beppo could return,

In law he was almost as good as dead; he
Nor sent, nor wrote, nor shew'd the least concer

And she had waited several years already;
And really if a man won't let us know
That he's alive, be's dead, or should be so.

Besides, within the Alps, to every woman

( Although, God knows, it is a grievous sin) 'Tis, I may say, permitted to have two men;

I can't tell who first brought the custom in,
But « Cavalier Serventeś » are quite common,

And no one notices, nor cares a pin;
And we may call this (not to say the worst)
A second marriage which corrupts the first.

The word was formerly a « Cicisbeo,

But that is now grown vulgar and indecent;
The Spaniards call the person a Cortejo,

For the same mode subsists in Spain, though recent; In short it reaches from the Po to Teio,

And may perhaps at last be o'er the sea sent.
But Heaven preserve Old England froin such courses !
Or what becomes of damage and divorces?

However, I still think, with all due deference

To the fair single part of the Creation,
That married ladies should preserve the preference

In tête-à-léle or general conversation

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