Don Juan 05-026
Canto the Fifth
Just now a black old neutral personage
     Of the third sex stept up, and peering over
The captives, seem'd to mark their looks and age,
     And capabilities, as to discover
If they were fitted for the purposed cage:
     No lady e'er is ogled by a lover,
Horse by a blackleg, broadcloth by a tailor,
Fee by a counsel, felon by a jailor,
Don Juan 05-027

As is a slave by his intended bidder.
     'T is pleasant purchasing our fellow-creatures;
And all are to be sold, if you consider
     Their passions, and are dext'rous; some by features
Are bought up, others by a warlike leader,
     Some by a place -- as tend their years or natures;
The most by ready cash -- but all have prices,
From crowns to kicks, according to their vices.
Don Juan 05-028

The eunuch, having eyed them o'er with care,
     Turn'd to the merchant, and begun to bid
First but for one, and after for the pair;
     They haggled, wrangled, swore, too -- so they did!
As though they were in a mere Christian fair
     Cheapening an ox, an ass, a lamb, or kid;
So that their bargain sounded like a battle
For this superior yoke of human cattle.

Don Juan 05-029

At last they settled into simple grumbling,
     And pulling out reluctant purses, and
Turning each piece of silver o'er, and tumbling
     Some down, and weighing others in their hand,
And by mistake sequins with paras jumbling,
     Until the sum was accurately scann'd,
And then the merchant giving change, and signing
Receipts in full, began to think of dining.

Don Juan 05-030

I wonder if his appetite was good?
     Or, if it were, if also his digestion?
Methinks at meals some odd thoughts might intrude,
     And conscience ask a curious sort of question,
About the right divine how far we should
     Sell flesh and blood. When dinner has opprest one,
I think it is perhaps the gloomiest hour
Which turns up out of the sad twenty-four.

George Gordon Byron, Lord Byron (1788-1824)