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THE BLUES
A Literary Eclogue

By
Lord Byron



"Nimium ne crede colori." --- Virgil

O trust not, ye beautiful creatures, to hue,
Though your hair were as red as your stockings are blue.

&/\&/\&

ECLOGUE THE FIRST.

London. -- Before the Door of a Lecture Room.

Enter TRACY, meeting INKEL.
 

Ink.

You're too late.
 

Tra.

Is is over?
 

Ink.

Nor will be this hour.

But the benches are cramm'd like a garden in flower,

With the pride of our belles, who have made it the fashion;

So, instead of "beaux arts," we may say "la belle passion"

For learning, which lately has taken the lead in

The world, and set all the fine gentlemen reading.
 

Tra.

I know it too well, and have worn out my patience

With studying to study your new publications.

There's Vamp, Scamp, and Mouthy, and Wordswords and Co.

With their damnable -----
 

Ink.

Hold, my good friend, do you know

Whom you speak to?
 

Tra.

Right well, boy, and so does "the Row:"

You're an author --- a poet ---
 

Ink.

And think you that I

Can stand tamely in silence, to hear you decry

The Muses?
 

Tra.

Excuse me: I meant no offence

To the Nine; though the number who make some pretence

To their favours is such --- but the subject to drop,

I am just piping hot from a publisher's shop,

( Next door to the pastry-cook's; so that when I

Cannot find the new volume I wanted to buy

On the bibliopole's shelves, it is only two paces,

As one finds every author in one of those places: )

Where I just had been skimming a charming critique,

So studded with wit, and so sprinkled with Greek !

Where your friend --- you know who --- has just got such a thrashing,

That it is, as the phrase goes, extremely "refreshing."

What a beautiful word !
 

Ink.

Very true;  't is so soft

And so cooling --- they use it a little too oft;

And the papers have got it at last --- but no matter.

So they've cut up our friend then?
 

Tra.

Not left him a tatter ---

Not a rag of his present or past reputation.

Which they call a disgrace to the age and the nation.
 

Ink.

I'm sorry to hear thisfor friendship, you know ----

Our poor friend !  ---  but I thought it would terminate so.

Our friendship is such, I'll read nothing to shock it.

You don't happen to have the Review in your pocket?
 

Tra.

No; I left a round dozen of authors and others

( Very sorry, no doubt, since the cause is a brother's )

All scrambling and jostling, like so many imps,

And on fire with impatience to get the next glimpse,
 

Ink.

Let us join them.
 

Tra.

What, won't you return to the lecture?
 

Ink.

Why the place is so cramm'd, there's not room for a spectre.

Besides, our friend Scamp is to-day so absurd ---
 

Tra.

How can you know that till you here him?
 

Ink.

I heard

Quite enough and, to tell you the truth, my retreat

Was from his vile nonsense, no less than the heat.
 

Tra.

I have had no great loss then?
 

Ink.

Loss ---  such a palaver !

I'd inoculate sooner my wife with the slaver

Of a dog when gone rabid, than listen two hours

To the torrent of trash which around him he pours,

Pump'd up with such effort, disgorged with such labour,

That ----  come --- do not make me speak ill of one's neighbour.
 

Tra.

I make you !
 

Ink.

Yes, you !   I said nothing until

You compell'd me, by speaking the truth ----
 

Tra.

To speak ill !

Is that your deduction?
 

Ink.

When speaking of Scamp ill,

I certainly follow, not set an example.

The fellow's a fool, an impostor, a zany.
 

Tra.

And the crowd of to-day shows that one fool makes many.

But we two will be wise.
 

Ink.

Pray, then, let us retire.
 

Tra.

I would, but -----
 

Ink.

There must be attraction much higher

Than Scamp, or the Jew's harp he nicknames his lyre,

To call you to this hotbed.
 

Tra.

I own it --- 'tis true ---

A fair lady ----
 

Ink.

A spinster?
 

Tra.

Mis Lilac.
 

Ink.

The Blue !

The heiress !
 

Tra.

The angel !
 

Ink.

The devilWhy, man,

Pray get out of this hobble as fast as you can.

You wed with Miss Lilac !    'T would be you perdition.

She's a poet, a chymist, a mathematician.
 

Tra.

I say she's an angel.
 

Ink.

Say rather an angle.

If you and she marry, you'll certainly wrangle.

I say she's a Blue, man, as blue as the ether.
 

Tra.

And is that any cause for not coming together?
 

Ink.

Hymph !    I can't say I know any happy alliance

Which has lately sprung up from a wedlock with science.

She's so learned in all things, and fond of concerning

Herself in all matters connected with learning,

That ----
 

Tra.

What?
 

Ink.

I perhaps may as well hold my tongue;

But there's five hundred people can tell you you're wrong.
 

Tra.

You forget Lady Lilac's as rich as a Jew.
 

Ink.

Is it miss or the cash of mamma you pursue?
 

Tra.

Why, Jack, I'll be frank with you --- something of both.

The girl's a fine girl.
 

Ink.

And you feel nothing loth

To her good lady-mother's reversion; and yet

Her life is as good as your own, I will bet.
 

Tra.

Let her live, and as long as she likes; I demand

Nothing more than the heart of her daughter and hand.
 

Ink.

Why that heart's in the inkstand --- that hand on the pen.
 

Tra.

Apropos ---Will you write me a song now and then?
 

Ink.

To what purpose?
 

Tra.

You know, my dear friend, that in prose

My talent is decent, as far as it goes;

But in rhyme ----
 

Ink.

You're a terrible stick, to be sure.
 

Tra.

I own it: and yet, in these times there's no lure

For the heart of the fair like a stanza or two;

And so, as I can't, will you furnish a few?
 

Ink.

In your name?
 

Tra.

In my name.  I will copy them out,

To slip into her hand at the very next rout.
 

Ink.

Are you so far advanced as to hazard this?
 

Tra.

Why,

Do you think me subdued by a Blue-stocking's eye,

So far as to tremble to tell her in rhyme

What I've told her in prose, at the least, as sublime?
 

Ink.

As sublime!   If it be so, no need of my Muse.
 

Tra.

But consider, dear Inkel, she's one of the "Blues."
 

Ink.

As sublime ---  Mr. Tracy --- I've nothing to say.

Sick to prose --- As sublime !!   ---  but I wish you good day.
 

Tra.

Nay, stay, my dear fellow --- consider --- I'm wrong;

I own it;  but prithee, compose me the song.
 

Ink.

As sublime !!
 

Tra.

I but used the expression in haste.
 

Ink.

That may be, Mr. Tracy, but shows damn'd bad taste.
 

Tra.

I own it --- I know it --- acknowledge it --- what

Can I say to you more?
 

Ink.

I see what you'd be at:

You disparage my parts with insidious abuse,

Till you think you can turn them best to your own use.
 

Tra.

And is that not a sign I respect them?
 

Ink.

Why that

To be sure makes a difference.
 

Tra.

I know what is what:

And you, who're a man of the gay world no less

Than a poet of t'other, may easily guess

That I never could mean, by a word, to offend

A genius like you, and moreover, my friend.
 

Ink.

No doubt; you by this time should know what is due

To a man of ----  but come --- let us shake hands.
 

Tra.

You knew,

And you know, my dear fellow, how heartily I

Whatever you publish, am ready to buy.
 

Ink.

That's my bookseller's business; I care not for sale;

Indeed the best poems at first rather fail.

There were Renegade's epics, and Botherby's plays,

And my own grand romance -----
 

Tra.

Had its full share of praise.

I myself saw it puff'd in the "Old Girl's Review."
 

Ink.

What Review?
 

Tra.

"Tis the English  "Journal de Trevoux;"

A clerical work of our Jesuits at home.

Have you never yet seen it?
 

Ink.

That pleasure's to come.
 

Tra.

Make haste then.
 

Ink.

Why so?
 

Tra.

I have heard people say

That it threaten'd to give up the ghost t'other day.
 

Ink.

Well, that is a sign of some spirit.
 

Tra.

No doubt.

Shall you be at the Countess of Fiddlecome's rout?
 

Ink.

I've a card, and shall go: but at present, as soon

As friend Scamp shall be pleased to step down from the moon

( Where he seems to be soaring in search of his wits ),

And an interval grants from his lecturing fits,

I'm engaged to the Lady Bluebottle's collation,

To partake of a luncheon and learn'd conversation:

'Tis a sort of reunion for Scamp, on the days

Of his lecture, to treat him with cold tongue and praise.

And I own, for my own part, that 'tis not unpleasant.

Will you go? There's Miss Lilac will also be present.
 

Tra.

That "metal's attractive."
 

Ink.

No doubt --- to the pocket.
 

Tra.

You should rather encourage my passion than shock it.

But let us proeed; for I think by the hum ----
 

Ink.

Very true; let us go, then, before they can come,

Or else we'll be kept here an hour at their levee,

On the rack of cross questions, by all the blue bevy.

Hark !    Zounds, they'll be on us; I know by the drone

Of old Botherby's spouting ex-cathedrâ tone.

Ay !   There he is at it.  Poor Scamp !     better join

Your friends, or he'll pay you back in your own coin.
 

Tra.

All fair;  't is but lecture for lecture.
 

Ink.

That's clear.

But for God's sake let's go, or the Bore will be here.

Come, come: nay, I'm off.
 

                                                                              [Exit INKEL.
 
 

You are right, and I'll follow;

'Tis high time for a "Sic me servarit Apollo."

And yet we shall have the whole crew on our kibes,

Blues, dandies, and dowagers, and second-hand scribes,

All flocking to moisten their exquisite throttles

With a glass of Madeira at Lady Bluebottle's.
 

                                                                                      [Exit TRACY.
 

 Continued --- Eclogue 2
 

&/\&/\&


 
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