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That is to say, if your religion's Roman,
And you at Rome would do as Romans do, According to the proverb,--although no man,
If foreign, is obliged to fast; and you, If protestant, or sickly, or a woman,
Would rather dine in sin on a ragoutDine, and be d-d! I don't mean to be coarse, But that's the penalty, to say no worse.
Of all the places where the Carnival
Was most facetious in the days of yore, For dance, and song, and serenade, and ball,
And masque, and mime, and mystery, and more Than I have time to tell now, or at all,
Venice the bell from every city bore, And at the moment when I fix my story, That sea-born city was in all her glory.
They've pretty faces, yet, those same Venetians,
Black eyes, arch'd brows, and sweet expressions still, Such as of old were copied from the Grecians,
In ancient arts by moderns mimick'd ill; And like so many Venuses of Titian's
(The best's at Florence-see it, if ye will,) They look when leaning over the balcony, Or stepp'd from out a picture by Giorgione,
Whose tints are truth and beauty at their best,
And when you to Manfrini's palace go,
Is loveliest to my mind of all the show;
so, 'Tis but a portrait of his son, and wife, And self; but such a woman! love in life!
Love in full life and length, not love ideal,
No, nor ideal beauty, that fine name, But something better still,
That the sweet model must have been the same;
Wer't not impossible, besides a shame:
One of those forms which flit by us, when we
Are young, and fix our eyes on every face ;
In momentary gliding, the soft grace,
In many a nameless being we retrace,
I said that like a picture by Giorgione
Venetian women were, and so they are, Particularly seen from a balcony,
(For beauty's sometimes best set off afar) And there, just like a heroine of Goldoni,
They peep from out the blind, or o'er the bar; And, truth to say, they're mostly very pretty, And rather like to show it, more's the pity!
For glances beget ogles, ogles sighs,
Sighs wishes, wishes words, and words a letter, Which flies on wings of light-heeled Mercuries,
Who do such things because they know no better; And then, God knows, what mischief may arise,
When love links two young people in one fetter, Vile assignations, and adulterous beds, Elopements, broken vows, and hearts, and heads.
Shakspeare described the sex in Desdemona
As very fair, but yet suspect in fame, And to this day from Venice to Verona
Such matters may be probably the same, Except that since those times was never known a
Husband whom mere suspicion could inflame To te a wife no more than twenty,
Their jealousy (if they are ever jealous)
Is of a fair complexion altogether, Not like that sooty devil of Othello's
Which smothers women in a bed of feather, But worthier of these much more jolly fellows,
When weary of the matrimonial tether His head for such a wife no mortal bothers, But takes at once another, or another's.
Did'st ever see a gondola ? For fear
You should not, I'll describe it you exactly: 'Tis a long cover'd boat that's common here,
Carved at the prow, built lightly, but compactly, Row'd by two rowers, each calld“ Gondolier,"
It glides along the water looking blackly,
And up and down the long canals they go,
And under the Rialto shoot along,
And round the theatres, a sable throng,
But not to them do woful things belong, For sometimes they contain a deal of fun, Like mourning coaches when the funeral's done. VOL. III.
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 I 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,” Which yet 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 look'd 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 seem'd to flatter Mankind with her black eyes for looking at ber.