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It may be thirty, forty, more or less,
Were all kinds of buffoonery and dress; A certain lady went to see the show,
Her real name I know not, nor can guess,
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.
Of time, and time returned the compliment,
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.
Because in Christian countries 'tis a rule
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.
And made some voyages, too, in other seas,
( A forty days' precaution 'gainst disease, ) His wife would mount, at times, her highest attic,
For thence she could discern the ship with ease:
Sunburnt with travel, yet a porty figure,
He was a person both of sense and vigourA better seaman never yet did man yard :
And she, although her manners shewed no rigour,
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)
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 coxcomb was he by the public voice;
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;
His « bravo » was decisive, for that sound
Hushed « academie, » sighed in silent awe;
For fear of some false note's detected flaw.
Dreading the deep damnation of his « bah! »
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;
He never put the pretty souls in pain;
Wax to receive, and marble to retain.
A female head, however sage and steady-
In law he was almost as good as dead; he
( 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,
And no one notices, nor cares a pin;
But that is now grown vulgar and indecent;
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.
To the fair single part of the Creation,
In tête-à-léle or general conversation