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Most epic poets plunge in « medias res »

(Horace makes this the heroic turnpike road), And then your hero tells, whene’er you please,

What went before—by way of episode,
While seated after dinner at his ease,

Beside his mistress in some soft abode,
Palace or garden, paradise, or cavern
Which serves the happy couple for a tavern.


That is the usual method, but not mine-
My way

is to begin with the beginning, The regularity of my design

Forbids all wandering as the worst of sinning; And therefore I shall open with a line

(Although it cost me half an hour in spinning) Narrating somewhat of Don Juan's father, And also of his mother, if you 'd rather.


In Seville was he born, a pleasant city,

Famous for oranges and women-he Who has not seen it will be much to pity,

So says the proverb—and I quite agree;
Of all the Spanish towns there 's none more pretty,

Cadiz perhaps—but that you soon may see :
Don Juan's parents lived beside the river,
A noble stream, and call’d the Guadalquiver.


His father's name was Jóse-Don of course,

A true hidalgo, free from every stain
Of Moor or Hebrew blood, he traced his source

Through the most gothic gentlemen of Spain;
A better cavalier ne'er mounted horse,

Or, being mounted, e'er got down again,
Than Jose, who begot our hero, who
Begot—but that's to come -Well, to renew ;


His mother was a learned lady, famed

For every branch of every science known-
In every christian language ever named,

With virtues equall'd by her wit alone;
She made the cleverest people quite ashamed,

And e'en the good with inward envy groan,
Finding themselves so very much exceeded
In their own way by all the things that she did.


Her memory was a mine : she knew by heart

All Calderon and greater part of Lopé, So that if any actor miss'd his part,

She could have served him for the prompter's copy; For her Feinagle's were a useless art,

And he himself obliged to shut up shop—he
Could never make a memory so fine as
That which adorn’d the brain of Donna Inez.


Her favourite science was the mathematical,

Her noblest virtue was her magnanimity,
Her wit (she sometimes tried at wit) was Attic all,

Her serious sayings darken’d to sublimity;
In short, in all things she was fairly what I call

A prodigy- her morning dress was dimity,
Her evening silk, or, in the summer, muslin,
And other stuffs, with which I wont stay puzzling.


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She knew the Latin—that is, « the Lord's

prayer, And Greek—the alphabet-I'm nearly sure ; She read some French romances here and there,

Although her mode of speaking was not pure;
For native Spanish she had no great care,

At least her conversation was obscure ;
Her thoughts were theorems, her words a problem,
As if she deem'd that mystery would ennoble 'em.


She liked the English and the Hebrew tongue,

And said there was analogy between 'em; She proved it somehow out of sacred song,

, But I must leave the proofs to those who've seen 'em, But this I heard her say,

and can't be wrong, And all may think which way their judgments lean 'em, « 'Tis strange—the Hebrew noun which means “I am', The English always use to govern d-n.»



In short, she was a walking calculation,

Miss Edgeworth's novels stepping from their covers, Or Mrs Trimmer's books on education,

Or « Colebs' Wife » set out in quest of lovers, Morality's prim personification,

In which not envy's self a flaw discovers, To others' share let « female errors fall,» For she had not even one- -the worst of all.


Oh! she was perfect past all parallel —

Of any modern female saint's comparison; So far above the cunning powers of hell,

Her guardian angel had giv'n up his garrison; Even her minutest motions went as well

As those of the best time-piece made by Harrison : In virtues nothing earthly could surpass her, Save thine « incomparable oil» Macassar ! ?


Perfect she was, but as perfection is

Insipid in this naughty world of ours, Where our first parents never learn'd to kiss,

Till they were exiled from their earlier bowers, Where all was peace, and innocence, and bliss,

(I wonder how they got through the twelve hours) Don Jose, like a lineal son of Eve, Went plucking various fruit without her leave.


He was a mortal of the careless kind,

With no great love for learning or the learn'd, Who chose to go where'er he had a mind,

And never dream'd his lady was concern'd: The world, as usual, wickedly inclined

To see a kingdom or a house o'erturn'd, Whisper'd he had a mistress, some said two, But for domestic quarrels one will do.


Now Donna Inez had, with all her merit,

A great opinion of her own good qualities ; Neglect, indeed, requires a saint to bear it,

And such, indeed, she was in her moralities;
But then she had a devil of a spirit,

And sometimes mix'd up fancies with realities,
And let few opportunities escape
Of getting her liege lord into a scrape.

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