That is to say, if your religion 's Roman,

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 ragout -
Dine and be d-d! I do n'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 wille) 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, That picture (howsoever fine the rest)

Is loveliest to my mind of all the show.; It may perhaps be also to your zest,

And that 's the cause I rhyme upon it so : 'T is 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

, so very real, That the sweet model must have been the same;

A thing that you would purchase, beg, or steal,

Wer 't not impossible, besides a shame :
The face recalls some face, as 't were with pain,
You once have seen,

but ne'er will see again ;


One of those forms which flit by us, when we

Are young, and fix our eyes on every face ;
And, oh! the loveliness at times we see

In momentary gliding, the soft grace,
The youth, the bloom, the beauty which agree,

In many a nameless being we retrace,
Whose course and home we knew not, nor shall know
Like the lost Pleiad (1) seen no more below.


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-heeld 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

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 suffocate a wife no more than twenty, Because she had a “cavalier seryente."

(1) “Quæ septem dici sex tamen esse solent."-Ovid.


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.


Didst ever see a Gondola? For fear

You should not, I 'll describe it you exactly : 'T is a long cover'd boat that 's common here,

Carved at the prow, built fightly, but compactly, Row'd by two rowers, each calld“ Gondolier,"

It glides along the water looking blackly,
Just like a coffin clapt in a canoe,
Where none can make out what you say or do:


And up and down the long canals they go,

And under the Rialto shoot along,
By night and day, all paces, swift or slow,

And round the theatres, a sable throng,
They wait in their dusk livery of woe,

But not to them do woful things belong, For sometimes they contain a deal of fun, Like mourning coaches when the funeral 's done.

XXI. But to my story

- ’T was 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 guess, And so we 'll call her Laura, if you please, Because it slips into my verse with ease.


6 certain age,”


She was not old, nor young, nor at the years

Which certain people call
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 return’d the compliment,
And treated her genteelly, so that, dress’d,

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 her.


She was a married woman ; 't is convenient,

Because in Christian countries 't is 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 do n't know how they ever can get over it, Except they manage never to discover it.


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 Giuseppe, call'd more briefly, Beppo. (")


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 vigour A 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 invincibie.

(1) Beppo is the Joe of the Italian Joseph,


But several years elapsed since they had met;

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

And did not like the thought 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.


"T is 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.


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 housebreaker 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 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.


And then he was a 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.

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