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And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
A VICE-HUSBAND. '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 deem'd 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. 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 ; The last not easy, be it known to you,
For few Italians speak the right Etruscan.
And knew all niceties of the sock and buskin ;
Hush’d“ academie,” sigh'd in silent awe;
For fear of some false note's detected flaw.
Dreading the deep damnation of his " bah !"
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 [has;
Must surely yield the palm to that which France 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;
Wax to receive, and marble to retain.
Alas! I cannot smile again :
Should'st weep, and haply weep in vain. And dost thou ask, what secret woe
I bear, corroding joy and youth ? And wilt thou plainly seek to know
A pang, even thou must fail to soothe ? It is not love, it is not hate,
Nor low Ambition's honours lost, That bids me loathe my present state,
And fly from all I prized the most.
From all I meet, or hear, or see:
Thine eyes have scarce a charm for me.
It is that settled, ceaseless gloom
The fabled Hebrew wanderer bore; That will not look beyond the tomb,
But cannot hope for rest before. What exile from himself can flee ?
To zones, though more and more remote, Still, still pursues, where'er I be,
The blight of life-the demon Thought.
And taste of all that I forsake ;
And ne'er, at least like me, awake !
With many a retrospection curst;
Whate'er betides, I've known the worst. What is that worst? Nay do not ask
In pity from the search forbear : Smile on—nor venture to unmask
Man's heart, and view the hell that's there.
That Italy's a pleasant place to me,
And vines (not nailed to walls) from tree to tree Festooned, much like the back scene of a play,
Or melodrame, which people flock to see,
Without being forced to bid my groom be sure
My cloak is round his middle strapped about,
Because the skies are not the most secure;
Where the green alleys windingly allure,
To see the Sun set, sure he'll rise to-morrow,
A drunken man's dead eye in maudlin sorrow, But with all heaven t himself; that day will break as
Beauteous as cloudless, nor be forced to borrow That sort of farthing candlelight which glimmers Where reeking London's smoky caldron simmers. I love the language, that soft bastard Latin,
Which melts like kisses from a female mouth, And sounds as if it should be writ on satin,
With syllables which breathe of the sweet south, And gentle liquids gliding all so pat in,
That not a single accent seems uncouth, Like our harsh northern whistling, grunting gutteral, Which we're obliged to hiss, and spit, and sputter all. I like the women too (forgive my folly),
From the rich peasant-cheek of ruddy bronze, And large black eyes that flash on you a volley
Of rays that say a thousand things at once,
But clear, and with a wild and liquid glance,
Italian beauty! didst thou not inspire