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XXIV.

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.

XXV.

Her husband sail'd 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 name Guiseppe, called more briefly, Beppo.(2)

XXVI.

He was a man as dusky as a Spaniard,

Sunburnt with travel, yet a portly figure; Though colour'd, 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 show'd no rigour, Was deem'd a woman of the strictest principle, So much as to be thought almost invincible.

XXVII.

But several years elapsed since they had met;

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

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

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

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.

XXIX.

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 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 vien luchand, 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.

XXXI.

And then he was à count, and then he knew

Music, and dancing, fiddling, French and Tuscan; The 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 buskin;
And no Venetian audience could endure a
Song, scene, or air, when he cried “ seccatura.”

XXXII.

His“ bravo” was decisive, for that sound

Hush'd“ academie,” sigh'd in silent awe ;
The fiddlers trembled as he look'd 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,
Wish'd him five fathom under the Rialto.

XXXIII.

He patronized 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.

XXXIV.

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 us,

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

XXXV.

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 show'd the least concern,

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

XXXVI.

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 Serventes” 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.

XXXVII.

The word was formerly a “Cicisbeo,"

But that is now grown vulgar and indecent; The Spaniards call the person a “Cortejo,”(3)

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 from such courses!

Or what becomes of damage and divorces?

XXXVIII.

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-tête or general conversation
And this I say without peculiar reference

To England, France, or any other nationBecause they know the world, and are at ease, And being natural, naturally please.

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