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British War Poetry in the Age of Romanticism 1793-1815, by Betty T. Bennet, Edited by Orianne Smith

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1796.10
The Don's Dilemma
"B."
The Gentleman's Magazine, LXVI (November 1796), p. 949

Incidit in Scyllam, cupiens vitare Charybdim.[1]

The Spaniard, always in the wrong,
    Spurr'd at a pinch, moves ne'er the brisker;
Slow as the ass of Buridan[2] long,
    Till flashing cannons singe his whisker.

Drags on his solemn dull career,
    'Midst ev'ry call for animation;
Fearless profess'd, when pall'd with fear,
    And blundring out of mere vexation.

Now, rous'd at length by many a shock,
    He views his follies drawn at full;
First peck'd at by the Gaulish Cock,
    Then goaded by the British Bull.[3]

Chelsea.


Notes

1. [Author's note]: "'He who desires to avoid the whirlpool Charybdis strikes against the rock Scylla.' Variant on Vergil, Aeneid, III."

2. Jean Buridan, French philosopher, and rector of the University of Paris, 1328- 1340. To him was attributed the example of an ass dying of hunger between two equal amounts of food; actually, he uses the example of a dog in commentary on Aristotle's De Caelo.

3. [Author's note]: "See the Gazette account, Nov. 19, of the engagement between Capt. Bowen, of the Terpsichore, 32 guns, 6-pounders, and Don Thomas Ayalde, of the Mahonesa, of 26 guns, 12-pounders, and 8 of 6 pounders, with cohorns, swivels, &c. steering for Carthagena, but sent to Gibraltar."

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September 2004