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,,Difficile est proprie communia 'dicere."

HOR. Epist ad Pison.



I WANT a hero: an uncommon want,

When every year and month sends forth a new


Till, after cloying the gazettes with cant,


age discovers he is not the true one; Of such as these I should not care to vaunt,

I'll therefore take our ancient friend Don Juan,

We all have seen him in the pantomime

Sent to the devil, somewhat ere his time.


Vernon, the butcher Cumberland, Wolfe, Hawke, Prince Ferdinand, Granby, Burgoyne, Keppel,


Evil and good, have had their tithe of talk,

And fill'd their sign-posts then, like Wellesley


Each in their turn like Banquo's monarchs stalk,
Followers of fame,,,nine farrow" of that sow:

France, too, had Buonaparté and Dumourier
Recorded in the Moniteur and Courier.


Barnare, Brissot, Condorcet, Mirabeau,

Petion, Clootz, Danton, Marat, La Fayette, Were French, and famous people, as we know;

And there were others, scarce forgotten yet, Joubert, Hoche, Marceau, Lannes, Dessaix, Moreau, With many of the military set, Exceedingly remarkable at times,

But not at all adapted to my rhymes.


Nelson was once Britannia's god of war,
And still should be so, but the tide is turn'd;
There's no more to be said of Trafalgar,
"Tis with our hero quietly inurn'd;
Because the army's grown more popular,

At which the naval people are concern'd; Besides, the Prince is all for the land-service, Forgetting Duncan, Nelson, Howe, and Jervis.


Brave men were living before Agamemnon I
And since, exceeding valorous and sage,

A good deal like him too, though quite the same


But then they shone not on the poet's page, And so have been forgotten:-I condemn none,

But can't find any in the present age

Fit for my poem (that is, for my new one);

So, as I said, I'll take my friend Don Juan.


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.

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