Behold the youthful muses who inspire! Page 6th line 19th
London, Published 1816-08August 1816 by Harper & Co Fleet Street, Richardson, Cornhill & J.C. Alman, Princes Street, Hanover Square Square.
In Twelve Books.
Printed for the Author;
Published by James Harper, and Co. 46, Fleet Street; J. M. Richardson,
23, Cornhill; and T. and J. Allman, 5, Princes-Street,
Printed byG. Sidney, Northumberland-Street, Strand. 18161816.
To The Rev. Charles Toogood, Sherborne, Dorset.
If I knew a single human being for whom I felt gratitude and veneration superior to that which I feel for you, to him I should have dedicated this my first attempt; but who is there that has half your right to those feelings? The protector of my infant years, the kind preceptor of my youth, and the unchanging Friend of my entire life.vi A3v vi
Knowing your character so well, I much fear you will shrink from this public tribute of my affection; but I would rather, even that your delicacy should for the moment be offended, than that you should suppose I could be unmindful of the only means in my power of proving how truly my heart is sensible of all your goodness.
Walworth, 1816August, 1816.
Notwithstanding the strong feelings that have prompted the Writer of this little Tale to send it, with all its faults, before the eye of the World, yet do those feelings fail to blunt the sense of extreme dread at her own temerity.
Those who are prepared to level the shaft of criticism at the simple Mary, are implored first to think of those ties, the dearest to them in the World, (and all have some such left them) and then to reflect, that for the benefit of those nearest the heart of the Author, was the offending Poem written.—Perchance the motive may be an atonement for the deed; and the shaft may be replaced, by gentler feelings, benignly in its quiver.
Mary; or, Female Friendship.
Book the First.
Oh! think not Friendship’s pure and holy flame
Is but a summer’s dream, an empty name,
An ignis fatuus, whose delusive ray
Oft cheats the trav’ller on his mortal way;
Or, like the echo’s false and fleeting sound,
Mocking the sense, but never to be found:—
Believe not what the surly cynics say,
That Woman’s heart ne’er felt true Friendship’s ray;
That, tho’ she fancies oft its flame divine
Glows in her bosom with a warmth benign,B 002 B1v 2
With her it is the feeling of an hour,
A youthful vision, or a rootless flower.
Oft they assert, it will to Hatred rove,
Assail’d by Jealousy, or tried by Love;
That change of fortune oft can quench its fires,
And at the touch of int’rest—it expires.
Believe it not; for as the myrtle dies,
Plac’d in a vulgar soil beneath inclement skies,
Yet will it blossom in a genial bed,
Strike deep its roots, and raise its blooming head:—
So Friendship in a noble heart will grow,
Confess the gen’rous soil, and perfect blow.
What, tho’ the sun’s invigorating ray
Can chase gaunt Winter’s giant form away;
Can bid the frozen current cease to rest,
And sweep the icy snow from Nature’s breast;—
What, tho’ the sturdy oak—the tender flow’r,
Alike confess its warm restoring pow’r;
Yet, no warm influence can that sun impart
To the unsocial, cold, unfeeling heart:003 B2r 3
Its beams benign can never entrance find
To the ambitious or the selfish mind.
Bound in eternal ice, the northern Pole
Is not more dreary than a narrow soul:
There hoary Winter reigns with sullen gloom,
Blest by no vernal Spring, no Summer’s bloom;
Sooner you might the rose in Iceland find,
Than meet with Friendship in a selfish mind.
Oh, brighter Gem, than ever grac’d the Crown
Of him who fills an Oriental Throne!
Oft art thou found within the glowing breast
Of those by woe, by poverty opprest.
Rich is that mind which is possess’d by thee,
Sister of Love and meek-ey’d Charity;
Celestial Friendship! may thy influence shed
A parting sun-beam on thy Suppliant’s head;
May I, when life beats low, thy accents hear,
Feel thy soft sigh, behold thy pitying tear;
May thy kind hand my wearied eye-lids close,
And draw the curtain on my life and woes.
Woman, within a narrow sphere confin’d,
Displays not the rich treasures of her mind;
Seldom her virtues meet the public gaze,
Or ask, like deeds of man, for public praise:
Within the shade of privacy they grow,
And, as the lily of the valley, blow.
Man, boldly meets the world’s approving eye,
Like the bright tulip, rich with varied dye;
He oft, as Stateman, shows his patriot worth,
As Soldier, wins the praise of half the earth;
He, as the upright Judge, can gain applause,
Can right the widow’s and the orphan’s cause;
Can from the pulpit those just rules supply,
That man may virtuous live, may calmly die;
Can oft relieve the anguish’d throb of pain,
And bid the cheek of sickness bloom again:
Yet, tho’ less brillant, female virtues show,
Still in sweet usefulness they bud and blow;—
They shine with steady lustre through their lives,
As duteous daughters, and as faithful wives,005 B3r 5
As tender mothers, and as friends sincere,
Wiping from Sorrow’s eye its bitterest tear;
Soothing with gentle hand both pain and grief,
Giving fresh zest to joy, to woe relief;
Seeking life’s stormy billows to assuage,
Forming the manners of the future age;
Planting the seeds of principle and truth,
Of honour, and of virtue, in our youth;
Acting in secret like the human heart,
The vital spring of each component part.—
Should circumstance draw forth those latent pow’rs
That lay conceal’d in life’s more tranquil hours,
Elicit from their minds those brilliant rays
Which, when once kindled, like a comet blaze,—
The world in wonder hails their hallow’d name,
And spreads it with the trumpet-mouth of fame;
Unmindful of the thousands now on earth,
Equal to them in pure heroic worth,
Who want but chance some proving hour to send,
To make them shine as patriot, or as Friend;006 B3v 6
Who, like fair LaVallette, would risk their lives,
And stand the test, as truest, tenderest wives.
Full many a Portia in seclusion dwells,
Whose heart, like Cato’s daughter, nobly swells;
Full many a Margaret who, with honour fraught.—Page 6. Margaret De Foix, Duchesse D’Eperon. The chiefs of the League having resolv’d to ruin the Duke D’Eperon, rendered him suspected at Court, and obtained an order to arrest him in the Chateau of which he was Governor. The Magistrate charged with this commission, found means to seize the Duchess, and placed her before the principal gate of the Citadel, with a view to make the Duke surrender. Calm amidst the dangers that surrounded her, though one of the officers who led her was killed at her feet, she replied to the enemy who exhorted her to advise her Husband to surrender, That she only regretted she had but one life to offer for the honour and safety of her Husband;—that she would shed the last drop of her blood to add new lustre to his reputation, or to lengthen his existence a single day; she held out her arms to the Duke, and told him It was her wish that her body might form a rampart against his enemies. The grace and energy of her expressions softened the hearts of her enemies, and, in the mean time, the Duke was relieved by some of his Friends; and the heroic Margaret entered by a ladder at one of the windows, and was received by her Husband as her tenderness and worth deserved.—La Gallerie des Femmes. Full many a Margaret, who with honour fraught,
Would emulate the lesson fair she taught,
Would urge their husbands to the glorious deed,
Tho’ they beheld their tender partner bleed;
Would say with her—Shrink not from Honour’s test,
Altho’ the sword points at thy Margaret’s breast.
Full many an Eponina lives unknown.—Page 6. Eponina, a Roman lady, who, during nine years, nightly visited her husband in a subterraneous apartment, where he was obliged to conceal himself from the resentment of the Emperor, and who supposed him dead. She had two sons, who never saw the light of day, till they threw themselves, with their Mother, at the feet of Vespasian, to implore the pardon of their Father.—Plutarch. Full many an Eponina lives unknown,
Whose heart does all her faithful feeling own;
Many an Arria noted not by fame,
Many might rival fair Cornelia’s name;
Many a Patriot, like a Roland great,
Or Athenais hid in humble state.
’Tis not the partial favour of the Nine,
Nor love of Fame, that prompts this pen of mine.
Behold the youthful Muses who inspire, See Frontispiece.
Who bid me wake this weak, this trembling lyre;007 B4r 7
Who bid me hide the burning blush of shame,
Whilst thus I tempt the steep ascent of Fame;
Who whisper oft this sentence in mine ear,
Why should an honest motive have a fear?
The critic for that motive pure will feel,
And scorn to break a fly upon the wheel.
Let those high-gifted with poetic art,
Charm with their numbers the enraptur’d heart;
Recite some wondrous tale of warlike Knight,
Seizing fair Lady in the dead of night,
And bearing her afar to ruin’d tower,
The weeping captive of a tyrant’s power;
Or choose some wizard story to relate,
Of some sad maiden’s melancholy fate,
Doom’d on some magic steed whole years to ride,
A fell Magician’s fair but luckless bride:
A simple story shall employ my hours,
Blest by no Muse’s smiles, no Muse’s flow’rs.
Fortune unkindly frown’d upon thy birth,
Sweet Mary, at thy entrance to this earth,008 B4v 8
Robb’d thee of those soft ties kind Nature gave,
Bearing thy parents to an early grave;
And thee, poor Orphan, on the wide world left,
Of every good save innocence bereft.
What, tho’ the hands of beauty, and of grace,
Conjoin’d to mould thy lovely form and face,
Which gave the promise, like the infant rose,
What tints the full-blown flow’ret would disclose;
Yet beauty’s gifts are oft but seeds of woe,
And spread a baneful poison as they grow;
Oft to the portionless and friendless fair,
A good precarious—but a certain snare.
Drest in a muslin frock from India’s loom,
Methinks I see thee bounding to the room
Where thy proud relatives, in haughty state,
Thy first arrival at their mansion wait,
And cast cold glances, to the opening door,
Where none give welcome to the orphan poor.
No open arms are spread for thy embrace,
No kiss of love imprinted on thy face;009 C1r 9
No cheering accents meet thine infant ears,
Thy soft blue eyes are fill’d with sudden tears.
Arrested is thy quick elastic spring—
Dependence shakes her black, her murky wing,
And claims thee then, sweet, tender, drooping flower,
A victim to her harsh despotic power.
Oh, happier far, sweet maid! had been thy lot,
The humble inmate of some peasant’s cot;
Blest with some rustic Father’s honest care,
And doom’d some tender Mother’s love to share;
Fondly they had on thy endearments smil’d,
Proudly exulting in their beauteous child:
Then, dancing sportive on thy village-green,
The Shepherd lads had crown’d thee as their Queen;
Content and health had strew’d thy path with flowers,
And Love and Virtue blest thy happy hours.
Now, must each action of thy life be tried
By narrow Prejudice— by watchful Pride;
Each fault observ’d by cold misjudging eyes,
Each Virtue hid, or seen in foul disquise:C 010 C1v 10
As fruits sustain the withering Eastern blight,
So must thou feel the sense of chilling slight.
Well, Mary, you are come, the proud Earl cried,
As soon as Mary’s infant form he ’spied;
But wherefore hangs that cloud upon your brow?
No froward humours will become you now;
We mean, if you are grateful, kind, and good,
To give you education, clothes, and food;—
Then cause us not our kindness to repent,
And draw upon yourself just punishment.
Your Mother had a temper far too mild;
I trust she has not much indulg’d you, child.
Pray, did she chide you, Mary, when you cried?
And punish you for peevishness and pride?
How long, pray, is it since your Mother died?
Choak’d by a thousand mingled thoughts and fears,
No longer could the Orphan hide her tears:
She tried in vain some pleading words to speak,
Then sobb’d, as if her little heart would break;011 C2r 11
And, with a deep and half convulsive sigh,
Exclaim’d, My Mother! wherefore didst thou die?
Why leave thy little Mary here behind,
When uncle looks and speaks to me unkind?
The aged Margaret, Mary’s nurse and friend,
Her Mother’s faithful servant to her end;
Who smooth’d her pillow at the hour of death,
Clos’d her dim eye, receiv’d her parting breath,
And of its keenest sorrow death beguil’d,
By swearing never to forsake her child:
She heard the little Orphan’s bitter cry,
And, with resentment kindling in her eye,
Enter’d abruptly an unbidden guest,
And clasp’d the weeping cherub to her breast;
Then slightly bowing, the poor trembler led,
Nor left her till she slumbered safe in bed.
How soon the tear of infancy is dry!
It scarcely dims the lustre of the eye;
On the soft cheek it hardly leaves a trace,
Nor swells the features of the infant’s face.C2 012 C2v 12
In later life, the bitter tear that flows,
No longer beams like dew-drop on the Rose;
It leaves a trace reluctant to depart,
The eye its channel, but its source—the heart.
Of all the gifts, oh Nature! sent by thee,
Dubious the most is sensibility;
For never has it yet been understood,
Whether it be an ill to man, or good;
It thrills the heart at sight of other’s woe,
And causes oft delicious tears to flow—
It prompts the noblest actions of the mind,
And makes men gen’rous, social, good, refin’d:
But ah! what anguish does it oft impart!
How does each slight offence give double smart;
What nameless sorrows has the feeling heart!
It freezes, slighted—but with kindness burns,
Turns at a touch, and trembles as it turns.
End of Book the First.
Book the Second.
Sweet are the slumbers of the lab’ring poor,
When their hard task of daily work is o’er;—
Sweet to the man worn out with racking pain,
When raging fever burns through every vein,
Is balmy sleep, like Nature’s ev’ning dew,
Causing the freshen’d flowers to bloom anew;—
And sweet to Mary was her night’s repose;
It scatter’d o’er her cheek the damask rose,
Tun’d her young heart to joy, and chas’d away
The transient sorrows of the former day.
Kneeling, she turn’d her bright, her azure eye,
Beaming with thanks towards her native sky;014 C3v 14
And in a short, but an impressive pray’r,
Implor’d protection from her Father there:
Then, in the garden, sought the violet blue,
The pansy and the primrose wet with dew—
To form a garland fresh, and sweet and fair,
The which she plac’d upon her shining hair.
Then with a spaniel frisk’d about in play,
And a firm friendship made with honest Tray.
Longer had Mary in the garden staid,
But that old Margaret welcome signal made;
Breakfast was ready—light she skipt away,
Healthy and hungry, beautiful and gay;
Fresher than Hebe, or the rosy hours,
Sweeter than Flora, or her blooming flowers:
The garland still was on her silken hair,
Which fell in ringlets o’er her forehead fair.
Blushing, she enter’d with a native grace,
Whilst beauty mark’d each feature of her face.
Good morning, Mary, echo’d round the room,
And her fair cheek mantled with richer bloom.015 C4r 15
This is your cousin, Mary—Lady Jane,
Whose favour you must studious try to gain.
The artless Orphan, with endearing smile,
Tried her young cousin’s favour to beguile;
But cold that cousin leant to her embrace,
Whilst pride, with kindness, struggled in her face—
With her dark eyes, she view’d her o’er and o’er,
And when poor Mary shrunk—she gaz’d the more:
Proud as she was, confess’d her cousin fair,
Admir’d the silken texture of her hair;
Wish’d her own eyes, like Mary’s, were of blue,
And that she had so sweet a dimple too—
Then having gaz’d her fill, made up her mind
To shew her toys to Mary, and be kind;
So, leaning to her governess to tell,
Whisper’d, I like my cousin very well.
I trust you do, my love, that lady cried,
And, as she look’d on Mary, gently sigh’d;
A tear of pity rush’d into her eye,
The genuine drop of sensibility:016 C4v 16
For she, like Mary, was misfortune’s child;
Her early sorrows made her good and mild.
She griev’d to see so sweet, so fair a flower,
Within the reach of fell oppression’s power;
And, as she felt the pitying drop descend,
She vow’d to be the little Orphan’s friend.
Her guardian angel smil’d, the oath to hear,
And bore it, with the sympathizing tear,
To where the Book of Record open stands,
And saw it witness’d by angelic bands.
E’en God himself the sacred vow approv’d,
For what, by Providence, is so much lov’d
As meek-eyed Charity, which wipes away
The many sins committed every day;
Which bids us trust our great misdeeds to heav’n,
Forgive our enemies, and be forgiven?
The haughty Countess turn’d her head aside,
As gentle Vernon’s pitying tear she spy’d;
Cold angry glances shot from either eye,
As her ear caught the gently-breathing sigh.017 D1r 17
Sternly she bade the Orphan take her place,
Eyeing askance her animated face,
And every charm, and every infant grace.
Thus Satan look’d on the first happy pair,
Thus frown’d to see them so divinely fair,—
Thus felt pale Envy’s agonizing smart,
And every baneful passion of the heart.
Why, she in secret cried, did I agree,
That Sydney’s offspring e’er should live with me?
Tho’ rich in titles, and an heiress born,
Did I not bear that Sydney’s bitter scorn?
Did not her Mother triumph o’er his heart
With witching beauty, and with Syren art?
For had not Sydney gaz’d upon her charms,
I might have won the truant to my arms:
And now that he who so much anguish gave
Is laid within his honourable grave,
Follow’d by her whose beauty made my woe,
Who caus’d my heart to bleed, my tears to flow,D 018 D1v 18
This beauteous urchin comes to raise alarms,
Dress’d in her Father’s smiles, her Mother’s charms;
Comes to unclose those wounds I hop’d to heal,
And make me all my former anguish feel—
Comes with that self-same hated Angel face,
That winning softness, and that playful grace,
With which her Mother triumph’d over me;
Perhaps to plunge my child in misery!
Perhaps the anguish that I felt impart,
And win, like mine, her lover from her heart.
Whilst many a pang, in quick succession stole,
And mingled passions shook her inmost soul,
Th’ unconscious object of her new-born fear,
With childish innocence approaches near,—
Imprints upon her hand a Cherub kiss,
And hopes she has not now behav’d amiss;
Fears her dear Aunt is angry with her still,
Because last night she had behaved so ill:
Implores her pardon with beseeching eyes,
And hopes in future to grow good and wise.019 D2r 19
Not Satan’s self could the sweet child reprove,
Or scarce refuse involuntary love;
’Twas so her Father look’d, just so he smil’d,
That mix’d emotions pleaded for the child.
Half tempted was she, by these feelings press’d,
To strain poor Sydney’s offspring to her breast;
Bid her find tenderness, and shelter there,
And all a Mother’s love, a Mother’s care.
Short was the conflict—pity could not stay,
Chas’d by relentless memory away;
Turning then coldly from the Orphan child,
Who, all unconscious, innocently smil’d,
She made a sign, which gentle Vernon knew,
And with the youthful Cousin she withdrew.
Sydney, a soldier of no common fame,
Though young in years, immortalized in name;
Grac’d by the laurels that profusely shed
Their verdant glories round his manly head;
Glowing, with conscious worth, the Hero sought
That country for whose cause his arm had fought;D2 020 D2v 20
Escap’d the sword of Mars, and Glory’s field,
Two azure eyes made gallant Sydney yield:
He bow’d before the bright, the potent throne,
Nor rested till fair Emma was his own,—
Preferring her before a titled dame,
Who for the noble Soldier felt a flame.
Poor Emma suffer’d for a Mother’s sin.
She felt her sorrows with her life begin;
Her infant cries proclaim’d that Mother’s shame,
Born without fortune, friends, or legal name.
Oh! was she less the child than that proud fair,
Who did her Father’s name and honours share?—
Dying, that Father made a last request,
To ease the load which on his conscience prest,
Begging his daughter would a Sister prove
To Emma, Child of Nature and of Love.
The Countess was that daughter he address’d,
When deep Remorse lay on his dying breast;
And she, too, was the rich, the titled Dame,
Who for the gallant Sydney felt Love’s flame.—021 D3r 21
But who the tempest of her soul can tell,
The anger fierce, the disappointment fell,
When first she found that Emma’s beauteous eyes
Had won the object of her tender sighs!
She left them, unassisted, to their fate,
And vow’d them deepest, everlasting hate.
Sydney, though rich in honours and in fame,
Was poor in wealth, to England’s lasting shame—
Who leaves her gallant sons, their service o’er,
In poverty, on her ungrateful shore.
Poor Sydney trembled for his lovely Wife,
Dear as his honour, dearer than his life;
Who plac’d a pledge of love within his arms,
The miniature of all its Mother’s charms:
He clasp’d the infant cherub to his heart,
And felt the big round tear begin to start;—
In vain he brush’d it from his fine dark eye,
Another, and another, still were nigh.
Asham’d, he bow’d his head, and closer press’d
His first-born offspring to a Father’s breast.
Long did poor Sydney buffet with the world;—
At length, the anchor weigh’d, the sails unfurl’d,
Reluctant he embark’d for India’s shore,
Where Sydney landed—to return no more.
His Emma could not long this stroke survive,
Tho’, for her child, she did with sorrow strive;
Finding it vain, one effort more she made,
A letter to her sister she convey’d,
Requesting her the Orphan child to take,
If not for her’s, at least for Sydney’s sake:
Then pressing on her Mary’s lips a kiss,
She join’d her husband in the realms of bliss.
End of Book the Second.
Book the Third.
Breathes there the Man that in this life below
Is free from sickness, pain, or mental woe?
Tho’ Nature round him has her bounties shed,
And fortune scatter’d riches on his head;
Though he may dwell amid Arcadian bow’rs,
And Love and Friendship strew his path with flow’rs;
Still shall some secret grief his peace destroy,
Some bitter drops lurk in the cup of Joy:
And, tho’ this secret grief we may not see,
Like us, he is the Child of Misery.
Let us not envy then the rich, the great,
For pomp and titles, equipage and state,024 D4v 24
And all the glitter riches can impart
Ne’er banish sorrow from the human heart.
Thus the reflecting modest Vernon thought,
As she her own apartments pensive sought:
Strange, she continued, that an Orphan child,
Should, in the Countess, cause such gestures wild!
And, as she mused, presentiment of ill
Towards poor Mary did her bosom fill;
And once again she vow’d, with beating heart,
Ever to take the lovely Orphan’s part.
She now, as usual, on fair Reason’s plan
Her morning’s sweet instructive task began,
Where taste, with usefulness, went hand in hand,
And Science follow’d with his num’rous band.
The sister Arts were there, with all their train,
And fair Arachne wove her threads again;
Religion’s voice was not unheeded there,—
She taught them piety, she taught them pray’r.
Hygeia too, the easy-featur’d maid,
Attended them, as in the morn they stray’d;025 E1r 25
Led them to breathe the freshness of the hill,
To view the rising sun, the bubbling rill,
Where Zephyr loves to dip his sultry wing,
Cool his exhausted breath, and renovated spring.
In evening hour, beneath the friendly shade,
They oft enjoy’d the converse of the maid.
In Winter’s cold, she made them oft repair,
With her the lengthen’d walk, the ride to share;
Made them run races with the romping Graces,
And with her own bright roses strew’d their faces.
’Twas thus their hours of infancy were past,
And beauteous womanhood was coming fast;
Jane, thanks to Vernon’s ever watchful care,
Devoid of envy, lov’d her cousin fair:
And, tho’ her mind by passion oft was toss’d,
And in the storm the helm of reason lost,
Mary’s soft voice was never heard in vain,
Whene’er she pleaded to high-soul’d Jane.
Together thus the youthful Cousins grew,
And form’d a Friendship pure, and lasting too;E 026 E1v 26
One that the storms of life could not destroy,
That bloom’d alike in sorrow and in joy:
And, though poor Mary oft was doom’d to know
What all dependants feel— regret and woe;
What, though the harsh reproof, the stern reply,
Oft drew the silent tear, the secret sigh;
Still did her grateful bosom ever feel
How much her Cousin wish’d her griefs to heal,
How much she pleaded, and how hard she strove,
To gain for her her haughty parent’s love.—
Vain the attempt—still did poor Mary find
From them the taunting speech, the look unkind;
By keen severity her actions tried,
Her nobleness of mind, called empty pride;
Her genuine pity, affectation named,
And every feeling of her bosom blam’d.
Thus does the jaundic’d eye its livery throw
On the fair lily, or the spotless snow;—
The damask rose, the sky’s celestial blue,
Seen thro’ false optics, are of sickly hue:027 E2r 27
So Prejudice the mental eye misleads,
And casts false colouring on the fairest deeds;
Nipp’d, like the tender bud, or early flower,
That feel the Eastern wind’s fell blighting power;
So had poor Mary droop’d her lovely head
Beneath the influence of dependence dread,
Had not fair Friendship, like the sun’s bright ray,
Cheer’d her with warmth, and chas’d the clouds away.
Oh, fell Dependence! curse of human kind!
Blasting each noble impulse of the mind,
When thy detested, baneful form appears,
Nature, afflicted, melts in sorrowing tears;
Fair Science mourns, dejected Genius stands,
And Virtue lifts to heaven her snowy hands;
The Loves, the Graces, all together flee,
Hated Dependence, at the sight of thee.
Ah, better far to eat the hard-earned bread
That Industry supplies, than, on rich dainties fed,
To thee, Dependence, bow the supple knee,
And falsely smile, ’midst splendid misery.
Thus pass’d sweet Mary’s earliest morn of youth,
Famed for her modest worth, her spotless truth;
Anxious to please, she strove, but strove in vain
To chase her Uncle’s gloom, her Aunt’s didain;
Us’d many a virtuous and endearing art
To win a passage to each stubborn heart:—
Meekly she bow’d beneath caprice and power,
Which gain’d new empire with each coming hour.
With Jane she sat, she work’d, she play’d, she slept,
Sigh’d when she sigh’d, and when she sorrow’d, wept!
Together, hand in hand, they ever rov’d,
Together read, alas! together lov’d.
Each was unconscious of the growing flame,
Each called the feeling by a different name;
Jane said ’twas Friendship made her heart rejoice
At hearing Pembroke’s ever welcome voice:
And Mary, whilst the crimson tell-tale blood
Mantled her cheek, declared it Gratitude.
How oft before has Friendship’s sacred name
Prov’d the beginning of Love’s purest flame!029 E3r 29
And happy ever may that fair one prove,
Who, on so firm a basis, builds her love.
Long ere this time had Mary’s spirit fled,
Untimely, to the regions of the dead,
Had not young Pembroke risk’d his life to save,
And snatch’d her, sinking, from the ruthless wave;
Whilst Jane, in speechless agony, express’d,
By her wild looks, the anguish of her breast.
The high-born Pembroke was a noble youth,
His heart the seat of honour and of truth;
His radiant eye beam’d with intelligence,—
His forehead bore the stamp of strongest sense;
His form, though strong and tall, was graceful too,
His cheek had not yet lost its boyish hue:
No midnight revels had destroyed his health,
No gambling debts of honour sapp’d his wealth:
In full possession of a large estate,
Descended from a line as good as great,
Heir to an Earldom—on this noble prize
Already had the Countess fix’d her eyes.030 E3v 30
In him she, from his days of boyhood, saw
A proper object for her son-in-law;
And likewise knew, and secretly approv’d,
That Jane had long the youthful Pembroke lov’d:—
Nor could she doubt the fair, the titled Jane,
Her house’s heiress, e’er could love in vain.
But Cupid, who delights to mock mankind,
And scatter human projects to the wind,
Had will’d, that Pembroke from that hour he bore
The Orphan Mary senseless to the shore,
Should find her image clinging to his heart
So strong, so close, that death alone could part;
And, when her speaking eyes so well exprest
The swelling gratitude that fill’d her breast,
He then resolv’d he would each effort prove
To change that gratitude to tender love.
Should he succeed, oh, with what joyful pride
Would he demand her for his lovely bride!
For Pembroke’s was no coarse, no common mind,
His passion, tho’ most ardent, was refin’d;—031 E4r 31
Which dreaded leading some cold venal fair
To Hymen’s fane, his heart, his all to share.
His soul disdain’d the mercenary maid,
Who, of her beauty, seeks to make a trade;
Yields to the highest bidder all her charms,
And gives a heartless person to his arms.
Thus feeling, Pembroke for a time repress’d
His honest passion in his glowing breast;
Whilst Mary, pensive, modest, and retir’d,
Unconscious of the passion she inspir’d,
Knew not that tender gratitude had sown
The seeds of genuine love within her own.
But the rich vermeil blush, the downcast eye,
The sweet confusion, and the gentle sigh,
To Pembroke the delightful truth betray’d,
That he was lov’d by the enchanting maid.
Meanwhile the Countess practis’d every art
To fix her daughter in young Pembroke’s heart;
To charm his ear, the harp was made to play,
In sweetest measure, his most fav’rite lay.032 E4v 32
Some book there was, she scarce could understand,
Some drawing wanted his correcting hand;
And used an hundred stratagems like these,
Which Mothers know to practise when they please.
Oh, could they tell how mean it seems to man,
How he revolts from any thing like plan;
How they degrade their daughters by this art,
And often lose an half-entangled heart!
Oft has this misjudg’d method prov’d the bane,
And loos’d the rivets of the lover’s chain.
Who would not turn from e’en the loveliest fair,
Detecting, by his side, the ready snare?
Beauty and Virtue need no help from art;
The Daughter’s charms should win the lover’s heart.
Jane saw, and blush’d—her noble soul despis’d
To play a part, e’en for the man she priz’d;
And, tho’ her bosom often heav’d a sigh,
And the tear stole in secret from her eye,
By word or look she never had betray’d
To Pembroke’s self, how love her bosom sway’d.033 F1r 33
Whilst rogueish Cupid smil’d to view his pow’r,
And more entangled them each passing hour.
Pembroke at length resolv’d he would impart
The tender wishes of his generous heart;—
So plac’d this Sonnet on his Mary’s lute,
By way of prelude to his ardent suit:
When next, sweet instrument of magic art,
My Mary touches thy harmonious strings;
Whisper the object nearest to my heart,
In softest echo to the lay she sings.
Tell her, no fleeting passion mocks her ear,
No libertine assails her spotless mind;
But such a love as Mary ought to hear,
Pure as her virgin self, and as her heart refin’d.
And should she tremble as she hears thee speak,
Again assure her of my virtuous love;
Mark her blue eyes, her soft and downy cheek,
And tell me if the beauteous maid approve.F 034 F1v 34
But should she ask from whence the suppliant came,
Vibrate, in tenderest measure, Pembroke’s name.
But who can paint the expression of that face,
Where beauty sat with more than mortal grace?
Who can describe the feelings of that mind,
The softest, tenderest, of woman-kind?
Or tell the quick pulsation of that heart,
And Mary’s blushing sweet surprize impart?
When this transporting Sonnet met her eye,
She look’d like Hope, like Joy, like Ecstacy.
Delightful moments, fleeting as you’re fair,
Few, such as these, do mortals ever share,
Like some enchanting dream ye melt away in air.
Scarce had she time to taste this sudden bliss,
Or press the name of Pembroke with a kiss,
Still, with the Sonnet in her trembling hand,
She turned, and saw the Countess near her stand;
Viewing those features that so well express’d
The tumult of delight that swell’d her breast;035 F2r 35
Confus’d, abash’d, an hundred terrors stole,
In quick succession, thro’ poor Mary’s soul.
The blood forsook her cheek—scarce knowing why,
She sought to hide the Sonnet from her eye:
Like a detected culprit fix’d she stands,
The paper, half-exposed, within her hands.
What ails the girl? the Countess taunting cried,
As Mary’s strong confusion she espied,
Why do you seek, with your accustomed art,
To hide that foolish paper next your heart?
Some fine romantic poetry, no doubt;
But, my fair gentle Muse, pray hand it out.
She spoke in bitter scorn—and instant caught
The Sonnet from the shelter that it sought;
And read contemptuous—but when Pembroke’s name,
And the avowal of his ardent flame,
Met her harsh eye—the fury of her soul
Burst out like smother’d flame, and mock’d controul
Was it for this, thou ingrate! fierce she cried,
Thou artful minion, pamper’d up with pride!F2 036 F2v 36
Was it for this, when, with no friend but me,
I took thee in—sheltered thy infancy;
And made thee the companion of my child,
By pity, and thy treach’rous looks beguil’d?
Could nought content thee, serpent, but to dart
Thy venom’d fang within my poor child’s heart?
And is it, then, thy fate, my darling Jane,
With all thy excellence to love in vain?
Must all the prospects of thy opening years,
Be turn’d to hopeless love, to sighs, to tears?
And must I, hapless mother, live to see
All my cherished hopes lost, and lost through thee?
Oh, spare me! Mary cried, in mercy spare;
Plunge not a hapless creature in despair;
And, as she spoke, she rais’d her streaming eyes,
And her white hands, in anguish to the skies.
Sooner than wound the bosom of my friend,
I would my life and early sorrows end;
And in the shelter of a peaceful grave,
No longer should I harsh injustice brave.037 F3r 37
No! my lov’d friend, if this indeed be true,
Ne’er shall your Mary prove ingrate to you;
Nor shall thy happy prospects blighted be
By the poor child of wretched penury.
Proudly she spoke, and all her angel face
Beam’d with a new-born majesty and grace;
And as she wip’d her eyes of deepest blue,
She coldly bow’d, and from the room withdrew.
Oh Virtue! with what charm art thou possess’d!
How dost thou awe the most obdurate breast!
Before thy pure, thy bright celestial ray,
Vice shrinks abash’d, and insult turns away,
As mists disperse before the God of Day.
Confus’d, reprov’d, a sense of utter shame,
Athwart the bosom of the Countess came;
While conscience spoke a lesson harsh, but true,
As Mary’s worth press’d on her mental view.
That Mary, her half-sister’s Orphan child,
So patient, gentle, unassuming, mild;038 F3v 38
Something like pity beat against her heart,
But sterner feeling forced it to depart;—
For how can pity in a heart reside,
Inflam’d with jealous hate, and disappointed pride?
End of Book the Third.
Book the Fourth.
Long will the silver bosom of the lake
Bear the rough whirlwind ere its anger wake;
But when, at length, by gath’ring storms oppress’d,
Passion is rous’d within its peaceful breast,—
Then, on its surface, curling waves arise,
Mingling reflected groves, and hills, and skies:
But, hush’d in calm repose, ere long will show
The verdant banks that on its margin grow;—
Not so the rage that fills the Ocean dread,
When winds provoke it in its mighty bed,
Dashing its mountain-waves on rocks around,
It roars tremendous with gigantic sound;040 F4v 40
Attempts from its vast boundaries to leap,
And o’er the earth a second deluge sweep.
Like the calm lake was Mary’s gentle breast;
Anger within it was a transient guest,
Disturb’d its surface, and then sank to rest.
To Friendship’s shrine some sacrifice was due.
Love was the bleeding victim, spotless true;
And, tho’ upon it the big tear-drop fell,
Tho’ her sad heart was tempted to rebel;
Still was her purpose fix’d, nor would she stay
To trust that pleading heart another day.
When duty with our feelings disagree,
Quick should the action of that duty be;
Lest the heart’s pleading steal from hour to hour
Our sense of right—and duty overpow’r.
By all belov’d, respected, and admir’d,
The gentle, widow’d Vernon had retir’d;
Declining, with a proper, modest pride,
Longer within the castle to reside.041 G1r 41
Now that her pupils needed not her care,
Her virtuous precepts, and example fair;
Then ’twas that, pressing Mary to her breast,
She thus the sorrowing weeping girl address’d:
Beloved child! tho’ doom’d from thee to part,
Still shall I bear thee ever in my heart;
Should harsh misfortune, Mary, on thee frown,
Ever reflect, a Friend you have in me,
Ready to shelter, and to comfort thee.
Strive then, sweet girl, this sorrow to restrain,
Believe me, Mary, we shall meet again.
May truth and virtue all thy bosom fill,
And guardian angels shelter thee from ill!
In one of Devon’s lovely vales she found,
Encompass’d by a smiling country round,
A simple cottage—not what moderns call,
Adorned with billiard-room, and marble-hall;
But a mere cottage, peeping thro’ the trees,
Around whose garden humm’d a swarm of bees:G 042 G1v 42
Beneath its thatch the swallow built her nest,
And warm’d her offspring with her downy breast.
In this abode of peace and beauty wild,
Dwelt the good Matron—Pity’s softest child;
There hop’d to end the remnant of her days
In peace, retirement, piety, and praise;
Dispensing, from her slender store of wealth,
Something to comfort age, or aid ill health;
Cheering the sick man’s couch with Hope’s bright ray,
And pointing out the road to lasting day.
Her duties seem’d a pleasure, not a task,—
Religion wore with her no hideous mask,
Hiding the features of her face benign,
Where cheerfulness and pity beam’d divine.
The hand of Truth this beauteous portrait gives,
Truth copy’d it from one who at this moment lives.
One evening, when the sun’s bright beams had fled,
But left a brilliant track of glowing red;
When Nature bade her weary children rest,
And sent each feather’d songster to its nest,043 G2r 43
Save that sweet bird, who shuns the glare of day,
And wakes, when others sleep, to pour her lay
In Nature’s ear, within some quiet grove,
And tell the story of her hapless love;—
When, laden with sweet spoil around the hive,
The bees, at its small door, contending strive
Who first shall enter its republic small,
And yield its store to benefit them all;—
Watching their busy toil, with curious eye,
Their mistress sat within an arbour nigh;
The woodbine blossom’d to adorn this bower,
The sweet clematis, and the passion-flower;—
When Mary’s well-known accents met her ear,
And she beheld that form for ever dear:
Speechless she gaz’d one moment on her face,
Then strain’d her close within a kind embrace:
Child of my heart! welcome, thrice welcome here;
Suppress that sigh, and check that rising tear;
Child of affection! dear as child by birth!
The only tie that binds me to this earth!G2 044 G2v 44
I will not ask what made thee hither fly;
I want no voucher but that soft blue eye.
Walk in, and freely share my humble cot,
My simple viands, and my peaceful lot.
Here safely rest,—then wipe that falling tear,
A Friend, nay more, a Mother you have here.
Oh, what delight thy presence doth impart
To that fond friend, that tender Mother’s heart!
Thus spake the Matron; then, delighted, led
The wearied Mary to her peaceful bed.
They who have felt, and long in patience borne,
The proud man’s contumely, the rich man’s scorn,
Can judge how dear to Mary was the bliss,
Of her respected friend’s maternal kiss;
Can judge how sweet she slept, how glad arose
From such a welcome, such a night’s repose.
With fond delight, on Pembroke’s love she dwelt,
Confess’d the soft return her bosom felt;
Told the conflicting passions of her mind,
When she the noble, gen’rous youth resign’d:045 G3r 45
But how, she added, could I bear to see,
My Friend, my Cousin, plung’d in misery.
Oh Jane, belov’d! thy friendship is repaid,
Great is the sacrifice to you I’ve made.
Oh, what will Pembroke, noble Pembroke say,
When he is told that Mary’s fled away!
Oh, help me, the sad image to sustain;
Teach me a perfect victory to gain.
Let Friendship a full conquest o’er me prove,
And rise superior e’en to mighty Love.
Now I am gone, the Countess will prevail,
Pembroke will hear her fabricated tale;
And, taught the lowly Mary to despise,
Will view my Cousin with a Lover’s eyes:
She, o’er his heart an empire will obtain,
And the soft wishes of her bosom gain;—
Will life’s most sweet, most happy moments know,
Purchas’d by Mary’s Friendship, and her woe.
Yet shall she not my hidden anguish see,
Nor know her joy has caus’d my misery;046 G3v 46
Her bliss shall now the only comfort give
My heart can feel, whilst on this earth I live:
Shall ease the pangs of my last dying breath,
And prove that Friendship can endure till death.
End of Book the Fourth.
Book the Fifth.
Unmindful both of distance and of time,
We speed from Devon’s pure and healthful clime,
To other scenes; for what so fleet as thought!
Most wond’rous faculty! unseen, untaught.
Regardless of all bounds it makes its flight,
And mocks the slower faculty of sight:
Rushes impetuous, leaving sound behind,
Quicker than lightning, fleeter than the wind,
Crosses the wild Atlantic with a leap,
Darts to the bottom of the Ocean deep,
Or mounts the craggy precipice’s steep;048 G4v 48
Dares rove, as fancy wills, from zone to zone,
Passes earth’s orb, and soars to worlds unknown;
Wanders at large, midst objects undefin’d,
And wanton roves, wild, free, and unconfin’d.
Howe’er the Miser may secrete his gold,
Thought finds access—by Thought the sum is told.
Howe’er the Statesman may his secrets plan,
Thought can his stratagems at pleasure scan.
Howe’er the Sultan guards his females’ charms,
Thought can obtrude, e’en to his favourite’s arms;
And the poor Poet, at his scanty board,
By Thought’s assistance banquets with a Lord.
What pity that the feast should melt in air,
And often leave him nothing but despair!
To me it whispers hope of better days,
And brings me comforts, tho’ it brings not bays.
Impell’d by Thought, and magic Fancy’s hand,
Within the Earl’s proud residence I stand.
’Twas morning sweet, and Nature fresh arose,
Grateful to Providence, for calm repose;049 H1r 49
When Jane, with heart oppress’d, and features pale,
Wishing its balmy fragrance to inhale,
Tapp’d at her Cousin’s door;—again she beats;—
Still no reply;—the signal she repeats.
Surpriz’d, she enter’d; but the bed, unprest,
Betray’d that Mary there had found no rest;—
Still more surpriz’d, she wildly gaz’d around,
When on the toilet she this letter found:
From thee I fly, my ever-valued Jane,
My own approving conscience to retain;
From Hope, alas! I fly as well as thee,
To keep from self-reproach this bosom free.
And, tho’ mysterious this strange flight appear,
Let my lov’d Cousin harbour no vain fear,
That ever Mary will unworthy prove
Of her warm Friendship, and her tenderest love.
Again the pen its feeble pow’r denies,
To paint the trembling Jane’s unfeign’d surprize;
Her anxious roving thought could not supply
One cause, to make her blameless Cousin fly.H 050 H1v 50
In wonder lost, filled with a thousand fears,
She drench’d the letter with a flood of tears;
Now anger in her heart, now fondness strove,
Now outrag’d Friendship, unrequited Love.
Where is that candour, she at length exclaim’d,
For which, oh Mary, thou hast been so fam’d?
Where the sweet confidence we each receiv’d?
And where that Friendship I so long believ’d?
Whate’er thy sorrow—where so well impart
The hapless cause, as in pure Friendship’s heart?
I have my sorrows too—and hadst thou known
How much I grieve, thou hadst not thus have flown.
But where, my Mary, has thy wretched fate
Led thy weak steps—what ills on thee await!
Thrown on the world, the cold misjudging world,
Perhaps in ruin’s gulph for ever hurl’d.—
As thus the maid now mourn’d, and now revil’d,
Th’ approaching mother saw in tears her child;
Pale turn’d that mother’s cheek, and conscience stole
Awhile triumphant o’er her artful soul:051 H2r 51
But when inform’d of Mary’s sudden flight,
Flush’d was her cheek, her pulses beat more light;
Fear chang’d to Hope, and Sorrow to Delight.
Folding her daughter fondly to her breast,
She thus the weeping, trembling girl address’d:
Oh, check these tears, my child, nor idly grieve,
Mary is not the being you believe;
Outcast of Friendship, let the ingrate go,
Nor let one tear for the unworthy flow.
Oh, cease my mother, Lady Jane reply’d,
Alas, I fear your harshness and your pride,
Have been at last too much for her to bear,
And driven her, gentle suff’rer, to despair.
Wrong not, I charge thee, her unsullied fame,
Nor cast dishonour on her spotless name.
The Countess smil’d, but in her daughter’s state,
At present, she forebore to irritate;
Insisting she should try to gain repose,
She kiss’d her cheek, and left her to her woes.
Quick came the noon of this eventful day,
When Pembroke, with bright eye, and features gay,
With forehead open, as his gen’rous mind,
With action manly, elegant, refin’d;
With Hope’s fair smile upon his ruddy cheek,
And looks that did of inward pleasure speak:
Availed himself of his presented key,
And thro’ the park-gate took his private way;
With blest Anticipation at his heart,
And Joy, oh destin’d, fleeting to depart;
As on the verdant lawn he next advanc’d,
His eye, around the scene, delightful glanc’d.
Yet did not he that lovely scene admire,
Nature could not his ardent thoughts inspire;
’Twas Mary’s form his wand’ring eye that sought,
’Twas Mary dwelt in his enraptur’d thought.
How will her conscious eye before mine sink,
Her virgin form before my glances shrink!
Yet will that downcast eye to me convey
More rapture than what mortal tongue can say.053 H3r 53
Claiming that privilege each fair allow’d,
He enter’d, unannounc’d, and graceful bow’d;
While still his roving eye he cast around,
But nought of Mary, save her lute, it found.
The Countess, who alone receiv’d her guest,
Could scarce restrain the rage that fill’d her breast;
As every glance confirm’d the hateful truth,
And spake the passion of the ardent youth.
Yet was she pleas’d her noble guest to see,
And welcom’d him with smiles of courtesy;
Talk’d of her absent Lord with careless air,
And those pursuits that claim’d his constant care;
In politics immers’d, he could not feel
In aught an int’rest, save the commonweal;
Artful she spake, on trifles lightly dwelt,
And smil’d at the impatience that he felt.
How are the ladies fair? at length he cried;
The Countess now collected all her pride,
And with malignant purpose, thus reply’d:054 H3v 54
My daughter, she exclaim’d, Sir, is unwell,
But from a cause I almost blush to tell;
A most ungrateful girl has basely fled,
And brought dishonour on her wretched head.
Jane lov’d the ingrate, and now plung’d in grief,
Mourns, where she should despise,— and shuns relief.
Whilst thus she spake, she turn’d her eyes around,
But, as a statue, she poor Pembroke found;
He grasp’d the marble, with a trembling hand,
Unable quite to speak, to move, to stand:
His senses all seemed lock’d in dread surprize,—
Grief check’d his utt’rance, Sorrow fill’d his eyes.
Root-bound he stood, as if some magic sound
Had turn’d him into stone, and fix’d him to the ground;
But soon the tide of dreadful feeling turn’d,
His eyes shot fire—his cheek indignant burn’d:
When his loos’d tongue, in hurried accents spoke,
And like some mighty stream, o’er all constraint it broke.
Recal those words injurious to her fame,
Wound not my Mary’s pure and spotless name;055 H4r 55
Trifle not with the feelings of my heart,
Nor play this cruel, this unworthy part:
Be just, and set my mind from anguish free,
A jest, when carried far, is cruelty.
The Countess, with sarcastic air, exclaim’d,
Pardon I humbly crave, and feel asham’d
For having rais’d this tempest in your mind;
But which, I trust, will your forgiveness find.
I knew not, when I spake of Mary’s flight
From Friends who lov’d her, in the dead of night,
That I address’d a Lover’s anxious ears,
And waken’d in his breast a thousand fears.
Would that I had the pow’r thy breast to free
From this oppressive load of misery.
Alas! the tale, the dreadful tale, is true,
As late last night she fled from love and you;
And left a safe and honorable home
For some vile purpose, thro’ the world to roam:
What is that purpose she can best explain,—
I wish not the important fact to gain.056 H4v 56
And tho’ her fall from Virtue I deplore,
Honour forbids that I should see her more.
Oh, judge not thus, the Lady Jane exclaim’d,
Let not my Cousin be thus harshly blam’d.
Oh, Pembroke! Mary is as spotless fair,
As pure, as innocent, as angels are;
I pledge myself that she will ever prove
Worthy of all my zeal, of all my love.
—Oh, read her letter, see how every line
Breathes purity, and holy truth divine.
Pembroke impatient read;—some sudden thought
Rapid as lightning, the perusal brought;
Firmly he stood, and his dark piercing eye
Express’d that he had solv’d the mystery.
The cause of Mary’s flight he well could trace,
Which brought indignant blushes to his face;
He turn’d, with bitter scorn, his eyes away,
Seiz’d Jane’s cold hand, and thus to her did say:
Dear, gen’rous girl! ever shall Pembroke’s heart
Feel thus your taking injur’d Virtue’s part.057 I1r 57
Proudly he here acknowledges his love,
And vows her innocence, her worth to prove;
No secret machinations shall prevail,
Nor injured Virtue have a cause to wail.
Hear me, then swear, sweet Mary to restore,
Pure as thyself, or see thy face no more.
He rais’d her cold white hand, and on it prest
A fervent kiss, whilst he her Friendship blest;
Then, to the Countess bow’d, with haughty air,
And rush’d from her, and the astonish’d fair.
But ah, what anguish did poor Jane now feel;
How did Despair o’er all her senses steal;
Benumb’d, entranc’d, in wild disorder tost,
Each latent hope for ever ever lost.
Pembroke another lov’d! he had confess’d
That Mary’s image dwelt within his breast;
A sickly dew upon her face arose,
Her limbs relax’d, her eyes began to close.
Nature, in pity, to her anguish shed
A drop from Lethe’s cup, upon her head;I 058 I1v 58
Wrapping her o’erwrought feelings and her woes
In trance,—oblivious sorrow’s deep repose.
Oft would the string of life be snapt in twain,
When too much strain’d by sorrow or by pain;
But that this mental sleep new strength bestows,
To combat with its mighty weight of woes.
The Countess shriek’d with wild and dread alarms,
And caught her fainting daughter in her arms;—
Together both they fell, and thus were found,
By the young Chaplain, prostrate on the ground.
In speechless wonder he a moment gaz’d,
Then, with respectful tenderness, uprais’d;—
Kneeling, supported Jane’s still drooping head,
Who, pale as marble, seem’d like one that’s dead.
Whilst her sad mother chaff’d her snowy hands,
And o’er her form in speechless anguish stands.
At length, pulsation quickens at her heart,
The hue of death seems slowly to depart;
A soft carnation rises to her cheek,—
Her eyes unclos’d, yet still she could not speak:059 I2r 59
But the soft smile that she to Elliot gives,
Proves that again a sense of mem’ry lives;
And, whilst on him she bends her dewy eyes,
She claims his kind assistance to arise;
Takes from her mother’s hand what she requires,
And, leaning on that mother’s arm, retires.
Tho’ in this tale Elliot has not appear’d,
Still is his character no less rever’d;
No buckish parson he, whose ruddy face
Beams more with love of wine, than love of grace;
Who, with his gown, puts on, or else removes
Those moral virtues his great master loves;
Who laughs at the coarse jest, the wit profane,
And flatters vice, a patron’s smile to gain.
No such was he—his finely-polished mind
Glow’d with the genuine love of all mankind;
Man was his brother, and, whate’er his state,
Whether he own’d a fair or adverse fate;
Whether he liv’d beneath an Indian sky,
Or drew his breath within the hamlet nigh;I2 060 I2v 60
Whether he groan’d beneath a slavish chain
Or toil’d upon the bosom of the main;
Whether his skin was black, or brown, or fair,
Man was his brother, and was worth his care.
This vast philanthropy, that fill’d his mind,
Gave him a manner tender, soft, refin’d;
Tho’ mild, yet cheerful;—and tho’ learned, free
From that vile rust of mind, called pedantry.
He never crouch’d to pow’r, nor servile smil’d;
He never absent friend, nor foe revil’d;
He never flatter’d wealth, nor pow’r, nor pride,
Nor from the path of duty turn’d aside.
And, tho’ domestic chaplain, still possess’d
Those principles that honour most the human breast.
He lov’d the Muses, and would oft retire
From the gay party, to his study fire;
Where, giving way to his poetic vein,
He cloth’d old Homer in new dress again:
In past’ral scenes would oft delight to dwell,
Or toll, in elegy, the funeral knell.061 I3r 61
Lately, and unperceiv’d, Love tun’d his song,
And peep’d in ambush from his lays among;
Oft would he, blushing, these productions tear,
But Love, perfidious, brought another there.
Some of these trifles, by some chance, I find,
Which best can speak young Elliot’s state of mind:
Once, Reason fair! imperial maid,
Ordered the Passions to attend;
They crowded to her court, afraid
They might their Royal Queen offend.
Before her throne Rage scarcely breath’d,
Ambition bent his stubborn knee,
Revenge from her a chain receiv’d,
And bands were plac’d on Jealousy;
Fear’s heart reviv’d beneath her eye,
She smil’d on Mercy and on Pity fair—
Valour, at her request, his sword put by,
And Hope was told to animate Despair.
But Love, with traitor smile, her pow’r defied,
And broke those fetters she around him tied.
Now weary Nature, sunk in calm repose,
Is gaining vigor for the coming day;
And the soft breeze that undulating blows,
Delights upon her fragrant breast to play,
Cooling her tranquil groves, smit by the sunny ray.
The moon, ambitious like the sun, to reign,
Pours her mild radiance on each sleeping flow’r;
Conscious, that when his beams return again,
She must resign to him the envy’d pow’r
Of shedding light on mountain, wood, and bow’r.
Yon gentle stream, that thus for ever flows,
Hastens to join the mighty ocean’s bed;
Unwearied, night and day, it constant goes,063 I4r 63
By some attractive secret influence led,
By many a spring within its bosom fed.
To thee, Eugenius, ere these eyelids close,
I would recount the story of my woes;
For, tho’ thy skin be dark, fair is thy mind,
Gentle, compassionate, tender, and refin’d.
Thy constant service, and unwearied care,
Merit each poor return that I can give;
And, could I life and anguish longer bear,
For thee, Eugenius, I would try to live.
Let this console thee, dear and gen’rous youth,—
When Albert has resign’d his mortal breath,
That thy assiduous love, and constant truth,
Have blunted the hard iron shaft of death,—
Have soften’d many a pang, and shed a ray
Of brightest sunshine, on my parting day.
Weep not, Eugenius! Servant no more, but Friend;
But, whilst all Nature sleeps, to my sad tale attend.
In life’s gay morning swiftly pass’d my hours,
Nature and talent on my boy-hood smil’d.
As the young plant, nurtur’d by genial showers,
I grew to manhood, Fortune’s fav’rite child.
Then health’s bright glow sat on my ruddy cheek,
And life and hope beat quickly at my heart:
Then did my tongue each honest feeling speak,
Stranger to low disguise and petty art.
No dark suspicion fill’d my happy breast,
No sense of base ingratitude my bosom prest;
I found a fragrant flow’r, a lily fair,
Wasting its sweetness on the desert air.
This beauteous blossom, rich in native charms,
Tho’ blooming in a cold and sterile bed,
Transplanted to my fond and fostering arms,
In a rich garden rear’d its lovely head.
My heart’s delight, my only joy she prov’d,
And lov’d she was, as seldom wife is lov’d.
Proud of possessing such a matchless flow’r,
I shew’d her to my friend, in evil hour,
Who, by insidious flattery and art,
Tore this sweet rose-bud from my bleeding heart;
Canker’d its bosom with unholy flame,
Robb’d it of sweetness, innocence, and fame,
And cast dishonour on my injur’d name.
Heart-struck, I sought this unfrequented place,
Freely to mourn, to sicken, and to die;
Secluded from man’s now detested face,
To brood on absent joys, and present misery.
Nor had I suffer’d thee, poor youth, to stay,
When two years back you sought this desert wild;
But that thy sable features seem’d to say,
Shelter a wretched black, misfortune’s child.
Had not thy skin possess’d that sable stain,
Thy pleading eye had spoke to me in vain;K 066 K1v 66
For fair was he—and most divinely fair
Was that bright form, which drove me to despair.
Those who assert that love expires,
Are strangers to its holy fires.
Once kindled in the human heart,
Ne’er will the sacred flame depart;
Mix’d with the vital stream, for ever will it flow,
Source of the purest joy, the keenest woe:
For as the canker on the rose-bud preys,
So hopeless Love, the spring of life decays.
Eugenius, hear thy master’s last request,
When life and love together leave this breast;
Find out my hapless wife, my Julia fair,
And to her pardon, and these writings bear;—
Tell her that Albert, at the hour of death,
Forgave, and bless’d her, with his dying breath.
To thee, Eugenius, there is one bequest;
To Julia, worshipp’d still, I leave the rest.067 K2r 67
Swear then, Eugenius, anxiously to seek
My poor deluded wife—thou dost not speak!
But the poor youth, nor speech, nor motion found,
Inanimate and cold, he sank upon the ground;
Whilst the weak Albert, struck with strange alarms,
Essay’d to raise him in his feeble arms,—
He loos’d his bosom to receive the air.
The moon-beams shed on it a radiant light,
Which shew’d, to his astonish’d sight,
That no dark negro’s skin was there,
But woman’s lovely bosom, most supremely fair.
The truth flash’d instantly on Albert’s mind;—
A thousand proofs in quick succession stole:
Oh, wond’rous joy, thus suddenly to find
Julia, the long-lost treasure of his soul!
Well he remember’d all her tender care,
Her hard privation and endurance mild,K2 068 K2v 68
Her sorrowing look, her meek dejected air,
And long continuance in these deserts wild.
All whisper’d that repentance true and deep
To Heav’n and him, had wash’d away her stain;
Fondly he gaz’d, then turn’d aside to weep,
Then press’d her fainting form, and gaz’d again.
Life’s pulses quicken’d at his beating heart,—
Hope drew from thence the shaft of fell Despair,
And shed a soft and healing balsam there—
Julia, my love, he cried, we never more will part.
His Julia heard—but how that Julia gaz’d,
When she, her eyes all-tearful, first uprais’d!070 K3v 70
It wants the painter’s pencil to express:
The feeble pen drops mute and powerless,
And leaves the feeling heart the scene to guess.
Another trifle that I give will show,
That Elliot had some secret cause of woe.
With life’s gay roses I’ll a wreath entwine,
And place them on my fair one’s head and vest;
Their thorns alone in secret shall be mine,
And they shall rankle in this aching breast.
No friendly hand has power to heal their smart,
No soothing balsam can on earth be found,—
Still I will strain them to this bleeding heart,
And, as I press them, closer still they’ll wound.
Whate’er this secret grief that Elliot bore,
Each day it strength’ned in his bosom more;071 K4r 71
Whilst his pale features, and dejected eye,
His absent thought, and sadly-frequent sigh,
Betray’d, in part, the secret that he prest,
With such tenacious feeling, to his breast.
Jane saw the canker Care, each day destroy
Poor Elliot’s health—and feed on every joy;
And fancied oft, she could that secret trace,
In the expressive features of his face:
Often she wish’d that Mary kind would prove
To so much worth, and unpresuming love.
Oft would she paint to her his manly sense,
His noble principles—his eloquence.
Oh, pause, dear Mary, often would she say,
Nor throw a gem, like Elliot’s heart, away.
She saw his pallid cheek—she heard his sigh,
With pity beaming from her fine dark eye;
And, by a thousand kind attentions, strove
To shew him all a tender sister’s love.
Alas! she knew not these attentions kind,
Nourish’d that grief which prey’d upon his mind.
At length, unable his distress to bear,
Which, like a tempest, did his bosom tear;
He now resolv’d, by change of scene, to try
If he could from himself and sorrow fly.
But when, extended lifeless on the ground,
Jane, like a fallen blossom, pale he found;—
When, on his arm, her lovely head reclin’d,
And her dark tresses floated on the wind—
Blame not poor Elliot, at a time like this,
If, on her cheek, he dar’d to press one kiss;
Stealing that moment when the Countess sought
The salutary med’cine that she brought.
Farewell! he then exclaim’d, Sweet maid, farewell!
To thy unconscious ear I dare to tell
My bosom’s secret—but it will not find
Entrance thro’ that, to thy ingenuous mind;
Nor can thy now-clos’d eye behold the theft,
Nor thy cheek feel the kiss that I have left:
Sweet maid! that kiss has not thy cheek profan’d,
Tho’ I a prize, a treasure rare, have gain’d;073 L1r 73
One that a sacred talisman will prove,
And guard me from all other women’s love.
But life returns—and my supporting arms
Must never more enfold these modest charms.
How quickly subtle, secret, undefin’d,
Are the approaches to the human mind;
Its leading chords so intricately lay,
The passions, oft perplex’d, mistake the way.
Nor can we often, to ourselves, explain
The cause that yield us joy, or gives us pain;—
From the same source may mix’d sensations flow,
To day what gives us joy, to-morrow may give woe.
Disgust oft treads on brightest pleasure’s heel,
And when we look for bliss, we sorrow feel;
So Hope will often spring, and blossom fair,
E’en on the wither’d branches of despair.
One glance that shot from Elliot’s speaking eyes,
As Jane look’d up, o’erwhelm’d her with surprize;
That one unguarded look the tale reveal’d
He had so long, so anxiously conceal’d:L 074 L1v 74
That little look did with more force convey
His secret woe, than ever tongue cou’d say.
It came like healing balm to her relief,
And gave sweet solace to her bosom’s grief;
It sooth’d her pride, and with soft influence stole
Like some fair dream, over her wounded soul.
For me, then, soft she cried, poor Elliot sighs,
For me his spirits fail, his colour flies;
Perhaps for me, the worthy Elliot dies.
These thoughts, like lightning, glanc’d across her mind,
As on that Elliot’s shoulder she reclin’d;
And hence that smile which she on him bestow’d,
And which he to the gentlest pity ow’d:
So soft that smile, it did a ray impart
Of warmest sun-shine, to his love-lorn heart.
Stung to the soul, by disappointed pride,
The Countess strove most anxiously to hide,
E’en from herself, how much she tried to gain
Pembroke’s alliance, for her much-lov’d Jane;
And, therefore, practis’d each insidious art,
To wean his image from her daughter’s heart.075 L2r 75
And glad was she, when, with a splendid train
Of noble friends, the Earl return’d again.
Now, thro’ the spacious park, the tall stag fled,
Thro’ dells and brakes, the dauntless sportsmen led;
They now, with loaded gun, the thicket trace,
To hurl destruction on the feather’d race.
Now, in small parties on the lake’s green strand,
The practis’d anglers take their patient stand,
Unmoved, behold the agonizing worm
Writhe on the hook, with head and entrails torn.
In sports like these, Imperial Man delights,
And fashion sanctions still more brutal sights—
Britannia’s lasting shame,—her sanguinary fights.
Contrasted with these lordlings, who aspir’d
To gain her hand, but most themselves admir’d,
The sterling worth of Elliot shone as bright,
As the sun shames the moon’s reflected light.
Two candidates now ventur’d to declare
Their ardent passion for the lovely fair;
Between the titled beaux ’twas hard to chuse,
So Jane resolv’d both suitors to refuse.L2 076 L2v 76
An infant hope now breath’d at Elliot’s heart;
And, tho’ he bade the little elf depart,
Still did it lurk unknown, and nestle there,
Drawing from thence the arrow of despair:
Painting ecstatic visions of delight,
And putting many a doubt and fear to flight.
Elliot still linger’d, and forgot each day
His night’s resolve, that he wou’d haste away;
Dejection now no longer mark’d his air,
And peace benign sat on his forehead fair.
Mary was still their theme, tho’ timid shame
Prevented her from speaking Pembroke’s name;
But every day she thought of him the less,
And dwelt on Mary’s future happiness:
Still with new strength, against her passion strove,
Till female Friendship, conquer’d female Love.
End of Book the Fifth.
Book the Sixth.
Blest is that poet whom the Muse inspires,
Who feels her influence, kindles with her fires;
Who, borne aloft, adorn’d with laurel wreaths,
In purer air, than plodding mortal breathes,
And from her heights sublime, at will, surveys
The world’s cold policy and crooked ways;
Who ne’er descends from converse with the Nine,
But when rude hunger says ’tis time to dine.
For gross corporeal food cannot be found,
Nor flowing cups, upon the Muses’ ground;
The soul’s rich banquet, the high mental treat,
They nobly give,—but never ask to eat.078 L3v 78
No scent of rare ragout their hill profanes,
No juice of grape their verdant carpet stains;
They boast no turtle-feast—no mantling bowl,
Their feast is—Reason and the flow of Soul.
The meagre form of him the Muses love,
And slender visage this assertion prove.
For me, unfit companion of the Nine,
Who, on mere vulgar food, delight to dine:
I must content me with an humbler fate,
Nor dare the Muses’ favours to relate.
Yet one short visit shou’d I like to pay
To those bright regions of immortal day;
So thus to Pegasus I fram’d a pray’r:
Oh, horse divine, thy humble suppliant bear,
For one short moment, an aerial flight,
To those fair fields of everlasting light,
Where aramanthine roses ever blow,
Where pure inspiring waters constant flow;
Where Music, and her sister-arts reside,
Genius, their tutelary friend and guide:079 L4r 79
Where the bright Muses at their pleasure stray,
Holding sweet converse with the God of Day.
Oh, gentle Pegasus, my suit befriend,
And let me even now thy back ascend.
Thus did I pray, and with impatience burn’d,
Whilst snorting thus, the winged steed return’d:
Infatuate Mortal! seek some common hack
To bear thee safe and easy on his back.
For learn, the flights of Pegasus are o’er,
His weary wings can bear his weight no more;
His vigour wasted, and his beauty fled,
Dejected droop his wings, and languid head.
No longer now the courser sleek, divine,
The fav’rite of Apollo, and the Nine;—
He, who once bore a Milton on his flight
To those refulgent fields of vivid light,
Whose rays extinguished his frail mortal sight.
He who a Shakespeare, Pope, and Thomson bore,
Weary and faint, alas! can fly no more.080 L4v 80
So jaded am I, and so often rode,
So curb’d, so urg’d, so spurr’d, and so bestrode,
By Lords, by Plough-boys, and by Ladies fair,
Who ride in crowds upon me every where.
Now up, now down—now whizzing round and round,
Now made to canter on some common ground;
That, spent with toil, and almost out of breath,
Vainly I call on man’s deliverer—Death:
For blood immortal flows within my veins,
And still the hated vital spark remains.
Time may, perhaps, my wonted strength restore,
But Pegasus, at present, mounts no more.
Check then, presumptuous mortal! this vain pride,
Nor mount a horse thou knowst not how to ride:
Some quiet nag, or donkey may be found,
To bear thee on thy way, both safe and sound.
Yorick, a lean and sorry beast bestrode;
And Quixotte on a Rosinante rode;
And Sophron’s horses, out of wind and breath,
Are nick-nam’d, for their leanness, sin and death.081 M1r 81
Thus having said, the winged steed withdrew,
Nodding, with courteous air, to bid adieu.
Not fam’d Orlando, of disorder’d mind,
When seeking far and wide his wits to find,
Knew less which way to bend his wand’ring course,
And turn the footsteps of his warlike horse,
Than Pembroke did,—seeking his lovely maid,
Thro’ mountain, valley, village, town, and glade;
Yet did he not despair, Love was his guide,
And led him on in his researches wide:
One clue he had from Mary’s nurse obtain’d,
The name of Fairbrook, he from her had gain’d.
A rural village, on a rising ground,
With mighty hills, and water-falls around;
’Twas here the widow’d Emma had expir’d,
The Mother of that Orphan he admir’d.
And thither he immediate sped away,
On a fine evening of an Autumn day;
Nor rested long, till Snowden’s top he spies,
Proudly presuming to approach the skies;M 082 M1v 82
Upon whose peak the blue mist loves to spread,
Like a vast crown, upon a giant’s head:
On its rough craggy side, the wild goat strays,
And on the precipice securely plays.
Close by this Alpine height, he found the spot,
The simply-elegant, secluded cot,
Where Sydney left the treasures of his life,
His infant Mary, and his lovely wife:
Another tenant now that cot possest,
And disappointment chill’d the lover’s breast.
No trace of Mary in this spot he found,
Nor in the sweet romantic scenes around;
Yet still he linger’d, ’midst these beauties wild,
And pictur’d her, whilst yet a little child,—
Haunted the spot where first she drew her breath,
And where her mother met an early death.
There wou’d he, with awaken’d feelings, stray,
And seek the humble grave wherein she lay,
On its fresh flow’ry margin drop a tear,
And breathe a vow he wish’d her shade to hear.083 M2r 83
Oft wou’d he mount the rugged Snowden’s height,
And feast his eyes with the full sense of sight;
Or wander in the lovely vales below,
And hear the song of joy, or plaint of woe:
Listen to many an honest rustic’s tale,
And quaff the cup of whey, or home-brew’d ale.
One evening, when the moon her orb display’d,
And with her beams all Snowden was array’d,
A form sat on a promontary’s height,
That seem’d to mock the gazer’s earnest sight;
So shadowy was that form that rested there,
It seem’d a mist, ready to melt in air.
Yet, on the moon’s pale face, it fix’d its eye,
And gather’d from its beams—fresh lunacy;
Oh, it was mortal,—for young Pembroke caught
These lines by melancholy madness taught:
Oh, friendly moon, canst thou discover
With thy mild, but radiant eye,M2 084 M2v 84
In what spot remains my lover,
That I may to meet him fly;
And should he then ungrateful prove,
Or doubt my truth and constant love,
Then will I on his bosom die.
Hark! I hear my William calling,
His voice is borne upon the wind;
Oh, is he from the rude cliff falling,
Or is he in the wood behind?
I come, sweet love, one moment stay,
Fanny again shall William find;
And we’ll be married still on Easter day.
White as the lily is my bridal gown,
My hat is deck’d with fair and fragrant flowers;
No cruel parent shall on Fanny frown,
And sweet shall pass away our future hours.085 M3r 85
—Hush! speak not, lest thy Father hear,
And he * * * * * * * * *
Here, in a whisper, ended her sad lay,
Whilst, bending to the ground, she crept away;
Like a thin Summer cloud, borne by the wind,
She seem’d to melt, and leave no trace behind.
And who art thou, unhappy girl? he cried,
Wand’ring on craggy steeps, without a guide?
Is there no pitying heart to shelter thee,
In this excess of human misery?
He heard the story of poor Fanny’s woe,
Which made his bosom throb, his eyes o’erflow;
Nor was his cheek degraded by the tear,
Which fell on reason’s melancholy bier.
She was the village Curate’s only child,
And blossom’d, like a flow’ret, on a wild;
A stranger saw her in her beauty’s pride,
And, to possess so sweet a blossom, sigh’d.086 M3v 86
Tho’ rich, he bow’d before her native charms,
And woo’d her to his honourable arms;
The ring was bought, the bridal clothes were made,—
She, in her virgin white, was all array’d.
Before the altar did she take her stand,—
The book was open’d by her father’s hand,—
When a rude murmur thro’ the church-yard ran,
Which, in a moment, check’d the pious man;
And, in the next, a voice was heard to say,
This marriage I forbid,—and forc’d its way.
The luckless maiden sank upon the ground,
And horror and confusion reign’d around;
The village-maidens threw those flow’rs away,
Cull’d to do honour to the bridal-day.
The lover’s father, by some chance, had heard
How the poor Curate’s daughter was preferr’d;
And on the wings of proud Ambition came,
Eager to snatch his son from seeming shame.087 M4r 87
The bonds of love he with a fierce hand tore;
E’en from the altar he the lover bore,
In brutal triumph to a foreign shore.
Poor Fanny neither wept, nor sigh’d, nor spoke;
The chord of reason in her mind was broke;
Nor could her father long this trial bear,
But in the grave sought shelter from despair;
Leaving his sad, ill-fated child behind,
Alone, and poor, with a disorder’d mind.
Yet does the hand of pity soothe her grief,
And try each tender care to bring relief.
Shelter’d beneath the present pastor’s cot,
She shares his scanty meal, his humble lot:
But in her wretched, wand’ring state of mind,
He lets her rove where’er she feels inclin’d.
She calls him father, and has ever known
A father’s care, since she has lost her own.
Oh, this is Charity, our hero thought,
As he that Curate’s humble dwelling sought;088 M4v 88
This is that meek-ey’d virtue God approves,
And has declar’d he most supremely loves.
What pass’d between the Curate and his guest,
Pembroke ne’er suffer’d to escape his breast;
But soon the worthy man from thence remov’d,
With all the num’rous family he lov’d,
To a snug parsonage, with a glebe around,
A well-stock’d farm-yard, and a garden ground;
Close by a stream, which thro’ the valley wound;
Where Fanny, far remov’d from scenes of woe,
Some slender signs of sense began to show;
And, tho’ perturb’d and restless was her mind,
Still were her wand’rings to the glebe confin’d.
Thro’ Northern Wales the busy tongue of Fame,
Shall oft repeat the Maid of Snowden’s name;
Shall tell her tale of woe, and draw the tear
From many an eye, thro’ many a coming year.
With soften’d feelings Pembroke left this place,
Where grandeur sits enthron’d on Nature’s face,
And heightens all her charms with wild and touching grace.
Thro’ Southern Wales his erring course he bends,
Love, still his fav’rite votary, attends,
And Hope’s bright ray its cheering influence lends.
End of Book the Sixth.
Book the Seventh.
Why should our modern-educated fair
Shrink from all common and domestic care?
Why, with a childish ignorance, disdain
Those gentle arts, that sooth the couch of pain;
Making affected feeling often hide
Their indolence, indifference, or pride?
Is it the province of some menial cold,
The throbbing head, or fever’d hand to hold?
Can one who feels no interest, impart
A ray of comfort to the suff’rer’s heart?
Ought he the nauseous cup from her receive,
Who, though he die, would neither joy nor grieve?091 N2r 91
Breathe in cold listless ears his plaintive sigh,
And raise to vacant face his languid eye?
Whilst the fair partner of his happier life,
His all-accomplish’d,—his beloved wife,
In false refinement, or inactive grief,
Knows not, or cares not, to bestow relief?—
True genuine feeling does not thus appear;
It seeks to hide, and not display its tear:
It does not shrink from scenes of pain or woe,
Whilst it has Hope or solace to bestow.
It oft, when Nature shrinks, will brace the nerve,
Nor let the fainting purpose coward swerve;
True Feeling, like true Honour, long will bear,
Nor to another delegate its care.
Worn out with watching, from confinement pale,
Poor Mary felt her health, her spirits fail;
Unable longer to repress her fears,
She bath’d her friend’s unconscious hand with tears,
Wip’d from her forehead the cold dew there spread,
And smooth’d the pillow for the suff’rer’s head.N2 092 N2v 92
Watch’d her hard breathing and convulsive start,
And saw the faint pulsation of her heart;
Witness’d her faded form, her pallid cheek,
And thus, with uprais’d eyes, was heard to speak:
Oh, thou, who canst, when human art is vain,
Pluck out the venom’d shaft of grief or pain!
Canst raise the Widow’s and the Orphan’s head,
And stay Death’s hand, beside the sick man’s bed!
If thou see’st fit, my valued friend restore,
And give her to this anxious heart once more.
That pow’r benign, who condescends to hear
The meek address, and dry the sorrowing tear,
Granted poor Mary’s wish—pale sickness fled,
And Death retir’d from virtuous Vernon’s bed;
But left behind that lurking foe to health,
Which oft afflicts the fav’rite child of wealth.
A nervous languor seem’d each day to gain
A firmer hold, and made resistance vain;
Nor could all Mary’s efforts cause this foe
Of Peace and Joy, from her lov’d friend to go.093 N3r 93
No longer could she make her listless friend,
The sweet pathetic ballad to attend;
No longer did the walk, the book delight,
Nor gentle sleep refresh her thro’ the night:
But deep Dejection pray’d upon her breast,
Destroy’d her appetite, her peace, her rest.
Bath was prescrib’d, whose genial waters give
Health to the frame, and make man longer live.
Thither then Mary hasted with her friend,
Whose form, like the bruis’d lily, seem’d to bend:
And, entering on King Bladud’s hallow’d ground,
They soon a quiet humble lodging found,
Close to those sacred springs for health renown’d:
And whilst they woo that Goddess bright—I mean,
With wand of Harlequin, to shift the scene.
There, quick, begone!—Bath, and its pump-room flies,
And see a garden lovely fair arise.
Behold the Moon, thro’ heav’n’s blue concave sail,
And mark those shrubs wav’d by the evening gale.094 N3v 94
It is the time when cattle seek their shed,
And prattling infancy is safe in bed;
When flow’rs have clos’d their cups, and e’en the rose
Forgets her conscious beauty in repose.
When Nature, quite exhausted, languid feels,
And o’er the burning day a coolness steals.
It is the time when lovers dare to say,
What they would hide from the broad glare of day;
And venture, ’midst the silence of the grove,
To breathe their vows of everlasting love.
See you yon pair, who on that terrace walk!
See you the lover to his mistress talk!
’Tis Elliot sueing to the Lady Jane,—
He pleads his love, and does not plead in vain.
His mistress now commands him to recite
Some lines, impromptu, to the Queen of Night.
Gaily she speaks, and will not be denied,—
And thus the lover with her wish complied:
To the Moon.
Thy silver beams, that radiant play,
Cheating us to belief of day,
No genial warmth impart;
Like the faint smile the World bestows,
Which from politeness only flows,
But never warms the heart.
Friendship is like the solar ray,
Which does not coldly, idly play,
To mock or cheat mankind;
But, with an influence benign,
A brightness, like that smile of thine,
Warms, animates the mind.
And now, behold that tear-drop in her eye,
And listen to her sad and heavy sigh,—096 N4v 96
That tear which glistens, and that sigh which came,
Were caus’d by Elliot’s speaking Friendship’s name.
Oh! we have lov’d, she cry’d, from childhood’s hour,
Together grown, like twin-buds on a flow’r,
Together, arm in arm, have ever stray’d,
Together read, together work’d or play’d.
From the same sources we instruction drew,
Our Friendship gain’d fresh vigour as we grew.
Oh, cruel Mary! never once to send
A single letter to thy anxious friend!
And thou, too, gentle Vernon! to deny
Some answer, which a comfort might supply!
A freezing silence never known before,
Checks my fond hopes, and bids me write no more.
Oh, Elliot! if my peace to thee is dear,—
If thou would’st ease my bosom of this fear,
Oh! seek my lovely friend, and her restore
Safe to my Friendship and my arms once more.
Elliot! I will not trifle with thy heart,
Nor stoop to affectation, or to art.
Some females oft their lovers will abuse
By mean coquetish wiles, I scorn to use;
Proud to display their little day of pow’r,
Some new caprice is practis’d every hour:
By turns disdainful, angry, coy, or kind,
Just as the humour guides their changeful mind.
No, Elliot! fear not such caprice from me,
My soul disdains such petty tyranny;
Bring back my friend to this fond heart again,
And you, perchance, will not then plead in vain.
And must I, Elliot with a smile, replied,
Forego my lovely, and my long-lov’d bride;
Must I, in search of other damsels, rove,
To gain the favour of that one I love?
Oh! what a task thou hast impos’d on me,
Worse than in days of ancient chivalry!O 098 O1v 98
But I submit—and by this hand I swear,
Faithful obedience to my mistress fair:
And pledge myself, ere one bright moon is o’er,
This cherish’d friend in safety to restore.
Nay, look not thus—and with that speaking eye
Enquire the cause of this same mystery.
I must not answer e’en its sweet appeal,—
Tho’ to refuse it I must sorrow feel;
But, trust me, soon this harsh suspense shall end,
And Mary shall embrace her faithful friend.
Tho’ Elliot boasted of no titled name,
Yet from an ancient family he came;
And now an unexpected stroke of fate
Gave him possession of a large estate.
Thus dar’d he openly his love declare,
And beg her his untitled name to share:
Nor did the Earl his ardent suit despise,
His fortune gave him merit in his eyes.099 O2r 99
For Gold gives virtue a much brighter show,
As a rich setting makes the diamond glow;
And artificial gems from it receive
A lustre, which th’ unlearned may deceive:
So Gold can merit to the man impart,
And hide the frailties of the head or heart.
End of Book the Seventh.
Book the Eighth.
Within the splendid mansions of the great,
Surrounded by magnificence and state;
E’en at the banquet where rich goblets shine,
As they were wont, fill’d to the brim with wine,—
Where Ladies smile, and Lords say witty things,
Where stars meet stars, and rings may blaze at rings—
Could we but enter with that magic glass,
Which Fairies keep, and round the circle pass;
That glass renown’d, which instantly reveals
On its bright surface, what each gazer feels:
How would the startled eye shrink with affright!
How the soul sicken at the dreadful sight!
Who is that Man with smiles upon his face,
That plots his friend’s, his dearest friend’s, disgrace?
Who is that Lady, young and lovely too,
That owns a heart of such a sable hue?
Who, that great Patriot, ’midst such loud applause,
Thund’ring support for England and her Laws?
Can it be true?—it is, to man’s disgrace,
He thunders only to procure a place.
Who is that Noble Lord, with aspect mild,
Who plans the vile seduction of a child?
And who, this glass declares, for half his life,
Has nightly pray’d—that God would take his wife?
Who, that gay fellow, that the world believes
Thoughtless and trifling—nay, himself deceives?
That boasts a heart good, generous, and brave,
Whose single virtues might the circle save.
Oh, Fairy! take thy glass, and henceforth keep,
I’ve seen enough to make me turn and weep.
Man is not what he seems, so who can know,
Where virtue flourish, or where vices grow?102 O3v 102
Oh thou, Lavater! who hadst skill to trace
The soul of man, by studying his face;
Who could’st, with so much nicety, detect,
Hid from the vulgar eye, each small defect;
Who, in a single line, or curve, could’st find
A clue to every passion of the mind;
Could’st say, here Avarice lurks— Ambition sleeps,
Here Folly wantons—or here Dulness creeps;
Within this curve, Cunning is plainly shewn,
And here a forehead might a Satyr own.
Oh, sage Lavater! to thy suppliant tell,
Wherefore should gold possess such magic spell?
That all those marks and rules describ’d by thee,
No one, upon the rich man’s face can see,
Tho’ the strong stamp of villainy be laid
Full on his brow, by Nature’s own hand made;
Let him but scatter gold dust in our eyes,
And Nature’s frightful mark soon fades away and dies.
At Bath’s restoring springs we left our fair
And fav’rite, Mary, under Cupid’s care;103 O4r 103
Nor did he as he’s wont his trust betray,
But guarded her most safely night and day.
Tho’ Beauty’s hand had moulded Mary’s face,
Assisted by each lovely sister-grace;
Tho’ Elegance the Queen of Love forsook,
To deck her form, and live in every look;
Tho’ in the silken tresses of her hair,
Cupid oft play’d, or lay in ambush there;
Still she possess’d a stronger charm than these,
One that could surer strike, could longer please;
Expression did the magic gift impart,
Which found its way to each beholder’s heart:
Expression, who so seldom deigns to grace
The regular, the finish’d beauty’s face—
He made her dark blue eyes his brilliant throne,
And touch’d each charm, tho’ to herself unknown.
Thus a rich landscape, where the tall elm grows,
Thro’ which a silver stream meand’ring flows,
And o’er whose copse the village spire is seen,
And yellow corn-fields mix with meadows green;104 O4v 104
Upon whose heights some castle meets the eye,
Whose ancient tow’rs seem mounting to the sky,
And on whose distant plains the cattle stray,
Sought by the herd-boy at the close of day.
Fair is the prospect, but when we behold
The sun illume that village spire with gold;
When a bright stream of warm and glowing light
Brings every distant object to the sight;
Each beauty kindles, richer seem the fields,
And the whole landscape added int’rest yields:
So the same brilliance that the sun bestows,
Expression on the features ever throws,
Warms every beauty with more touching grace,
And dazzling beams the sun-shine of the face.
Tho’ to the rooms Mary had never been,
And seldom in the public walks was seen;
Tho’ her large bonnet threw her face in shade,
And tho’ she shunn’d the pump-room’s gay parade,—
So far superior was her form, her air,
The men all swore she was divinely fair:105 P1r 105
Contended who should most her beauty praise,
Who most distress her by his ardent gaze.
Amongst the rest, who felt or feign’d a flame,
Was an old Lord, who late from India came,
Whose yellow visage, and distorted shape,
Bore some resemblance to an aged ape;
Whose limbs, by long intemperance unstrung,
Shrunk, and unsightly, on his body hung;—
Whose liver, tho’ diseas’d, and gone in part,
Was not so foul as his corrupted heart:
Rolling in heaps of ill-acquired wealth,
For which he paid his Conscience and his Health.
In search of health, to Bath Lord Ganges came,
Devoid of honour, principle, and shame;
With Critic eye perus’d each fair one’s face,
And dar’d to talk of symmetry and grace.—
One had a mouth too large, an eye too small;
One was too short, another was too tall;
Each was examin’d by his eye unchaste,
And each offended his fastidious taste:—P 106 P1v 106
This shock’d him by the colour of her hair;
That by her teeth,—another by her air;—
When Mary, in a simple robe array’d,
Supporting drooping Vernon as they stray’d,
Appear’d to his enraptur’d, sickly thought,
The wife his heated fancy long had sought,—
One that, as Lady Ganges, would outshine,
Be follow’d, gaz’d at, and be call’d divine,—
One that would fill the trumpet-mouth of Fame,
And give an eclat to his new-bought name;—
A name fresh coin’d, which scarcely yet had found
An entrance to the Red-book so renown’d;—
Not coming from the Father to the Son,
Nor by achievement honourably won:
But purchas’d by a weak ignoble pride,
A humble birth, and tarnish’d name to hide.
How did his coronet with splendour blaze!
How his new chariot caught the public gaze!
And how much pleasure did that gaze impart!
How did it swell with pride his narrow heart!107 P2r 107
And oh! what transports did those words afford,
What magic in those little words My Lord!!
And what a lustre did that title shed,
Aided by wealth, on proud Lord Ganges’ head!!!
Sordid himself, it enter’d not his thought,
But that the matchless Mary might be bought,—
Might barter, for his wealth, her modest charms,
And yield herself and beauties to his arms.
He, therefore, in a note, whose blazing seal
Display’d his arms, and did his rank reveal;
Envelop’d in a rich embroider’d case,
Intending Cupid’s victories to trace;—
Breathing perfumes, he ventur’d to declare
His ardent passion for the lovely fair;
Couch’d in the Eastern style, the note was sent
In studied terms, to make it eloquent.
He told her, She should deck her auburn hair
With strings of pearls, as her own bosom fair;P2 108 P2v 108
Shou’d wear an hundred gems, whose varied dyes
Might near approach the lustre of her eyes:
That she was fairer than the fabled hours;
And, as the Rose is deem’d the Queen of Flow’rs,
So, ’midst her sex, did she superior shine,
And like a second Helen was divine.
This rhapsody to Mary’s hand was brought,
As she of Pembroke’s gen’rous passion thought,—
As bright he stood before her mental eye,
And many a Fairy-vision floated by.
Most unpropitious moment for the Peer!
When mem’ry shed its soft and genuine tear,
And gratitude reviv’d that distant scene,
When Death appear’d—but Pembroke rush’d between:
Unnerv’d the fell destroyer’s uprais’d arm,
And suffer’d not his menac’d blow to harm.
Oh! what a contrast to his glowing cheek,
His open brow, his eye which seem’d to speak;
His form of symmetry, his noble grace,
His strength, his elegance, his manly face,109 P3r 109
On which sat intellect and honour fair;—
Was the new lover’s vulgar look and air,
His bold, presuming, and unlicens’d stare!!!
Disgust and secret horror fill’d her breast,
As thus the proud Lord Ganges she address’d:
Miss Sydney begs Lord Ganges will receive
Her thanks, for the high honour he intends;
And she requests his Lordship to believe,
That Gratitude to him she largely sends:
But, as she can no warmer feeling find
That honour to repay, within her mind;
She must his Lordship’s heart and hand decline,
And trusts he will not long her loss repine.
Then with a modest smile, and downcast eye,
She shew’d her friend the note, and its reply;
Who smil’d at the rich conquest she had made,
And at the high-flown praise Lord Ganges paid:
But thought, with Mary, that the answer there
Wou’d not reduce his Lordship to despair.
Chatting a while they sat,—then sought repose,
Which Nature, on her favour’d children, throws;
Yet does the mind partake not Nature’s sleep,
But wanders forth on rocks or mountains steep;
In lovely valleys oft delights to stray,
Or on bright Fancy’s wing be borne away;
Over some turret’s fearful height to bend,
Or hold communion with some absent friend,—
Perchance with one whose spirit long has fled,
Whose body long has moulder’d with the dead.
Who knows, but that the corresponding mind,
Whilst its own body is by sleep confin’d,
May shoot thro’ grosser air, and actual keep
Sweet converse, during Nature’s balmy sleep!
Or that the spirit flown, may then regain
Those fond affections Death has snapp’d in twain!
End of Book the Eighth.
Book the Ninth.
In thee, dear England! my own native land,
Science and Virtue journey hand in hand;
On thy thrice-favour’d, thy protected Isle,
Honour and Genius, and the Muses smile.
Foster’d by Liberty, thy Sons are brave,
And valour sleeps not in thy Nelson’s grave.
Thy soldier now, has grasp’d the meed of Fame,
And has to distant times immortaliz’d his name.
Oh! droop not then my Country—tho’ dread war
Has ravag’d many a beauteous clime afar,
Has spread wild Desolation all around,—
His with’ring blast assails not British ground.112 P4v 112
No late invader has laid waste thy shore,
Nor are thy fertile valleys stain’d with gore;
No lawless ruffians have thy maids defil’d,
No brutal robber prey’d on Sorrow’s child.
Oh, droop not England! tho’ thy gallant slain
Lie stretch’d in heaps upon a foreign plain;
Droop not that, like a giant after fight,
Thy sinews, for a time, relax their might:
Like him, a short repose will strength restore,
And Commerce to thy state shall come once more.
Perchance she weeps upon her children’s urn,
But to her England soon she shall return.
Thus thought our hero, as with honest pride
He witness’d corn-fields spreading far and wide,
And saw the reaper cut the produce fair
Of the brown Farmer’s toil and constant care.
At Cardiff he bade Wales a long adieu,
Crossing the Channel, and its water blue;—
Seeing the Sister-islands on his way,
Round which the sea-gulls and the curlews play;113 Q1r 113
The Flat-Holmes and the Steep;—then bent his course,
Perplex’d and sad upon his fav’rite horse;
From Bristol onwards pass’d, with sorrowing heart,
From which fair Hope seem’d ready to depart;
Nor did he know he enter’d now the place,
Where he should see again his Mary’s face.
He enter’d Bath, and through its gay throng press’d,
Cold disappointment clinging to his breast;
He view’d the brilliant crowd with vacant air,
And languid gaz’d upon each beauty there:
At length the motley scene that met his eyes,
Awaken’d in his listless mind surprize;
For here the widow, with assiduous care,
Tried every art a second love to snare;
And here the spendthrift sought the wealthy dame;
Here many a handsome fortune-hunter came;
Here, in Bath chair, roll’d on the gouty Cit;
And here the man of Learning and of Wit;Q 114 Q1v 114
The yellow Admiral, the Veteran brave;
The paralytic, one foot in the grave;
The ancient Dame, the young and lovely fair;
Crowded Hygeia’s valued gifts to share:
All met together, all decorum brav’d,—
Talk’d scandal, or talk’d love, as they together lav’d.
But when the heart is sad, soon folly tires,
It plays a moment there, and then expires;
So Pembroke from the motley scene retir’d,
By many a female notic’d and admir’d;
And in the evening by strong feelings tost,
Fatigued he sat, in deep reflection lost.
The lonely trav’ller can, throughout the day,
Contrive to loiter the dull hours away,—
Can view the prospects, or the seats around,
Or read the tombs on consecrated ground;
But when the evening’s closing shades begin,
How dreary seems the parlour of the inn;
How slowly creep the heavy hours away,
Cheer’d by no friendly smile, no converse gay.115 Q2r 115
For when he has the daily paper read,
What can amuse him till the hour of bed?
’Tis true, the prints that hang around the room,
Present him fam’d Smolensko and his groom;
Or he may warning and amusement take,
In studying Hogarth’s Progress of a Rake;
Or see the Prodigal profusely dine,
On husks and offal, with his master’s swine;
Or if he be a Sportsman, he may trace
The incidents and pleasures of the chase,—
May follow dogs and horses with his eyes,
From his first covert, till poor Reynard dies:
Then the glaz’d sampler will most plainly shew,
That Ladies work’d a century ago.
But when these sources of delight are o’er,
When the gay colour’d print can charm no more,
What then remains for the poor luckless wight,
But on the empty chairs to fix his sight;
Within the fire some fancied object trace,
Some castle tow’rs, or grinning giant’s face;Q2 116 Q2v 116
Or on the marble of the chimney find
A likeness of some form—grav’d on his mind.
Pembroke oft travers’d the wide chamber round,
Then sank in melancholy sad, profound;
Whilst fancy brought his Mary to his eye,
Shedding the tear, breathing the bitter sigh:
Expos’d to insult, and oblig’d to bear
The sting of Poverty—perchance Despair;
He pictur’d her in sickness or in death,
Without a friend to take her parting breath.
Rouz’d from these musings by the waiter’s care,
Who brought him, unrequir’d, the bill of fare,
He order’d supper—and to ease his mind,
Requested that the man some book would find.
Far easier task to seek it than to find,
This intellectual banquet of the mind;
For reading here seem’d idleness and sin,
Unfit employment for a busy inn.
At length the chambermaid produc’d a hoard,
A manuscript there left by a poetic Lord;117 Q3r 117
Some volumes bearing the librarian’s name;
And Memoirs of some Ladies known to Fame;
These, from her hidden-store, the maiden drew,
And brought them, with a smile, to Pembroke’s view;
Glancing an eye-beam to discern what gains
He might afford her for these extra pains;
And with coquetish air, and smiling face,
Her motley store did on the table place.
Our hero many an idle tale threw down,
Some with a weary air, some with a frown;—
At length the manuscript the damsel brought,
Attracted from himself his sickly thought:
Its ancient legends, and its fragments wild,
For many hours his sadden’d thought beguil’d.
Thus did the strange and compound metre flow,
Thus the wild fancies of its author show.
Lead me no further, beck’ning sprite!
My feet refuse to go;
My blood grows chill with dread affright,
My senses sicken at thy sight;—
Here then I halt, until I know
Whether thy airy footsteps lead to bliss or woe!
No blood has stain’d my guiltless hand;
No Widow weeps for me;
I have not kept the Orphan’s land,
But I have made an honest stand,
With vig’rous arm, with bosom free,
To shelter them from woe, from tyranny.
Wherefore then, Spirit, does thine eye
Still firmly fix on mine?119 Q4r 119
Oh, beck’ning Spectre! tell me why
Thou dost a Soldier’s courage try?
Firmly I’ve stood, heading the warlike line,
Yet tremble, and am sick, before that look of thine.
Oh, cheer thee, soldier! have no vain alarms!
Virtue should never fear!
Trust to her talismanic charms,—
Collect thyself and hear.—
The mist that rises on a Summer’s eve,
Is not more harmless than the form I wear;
I have no power, a print, a trace to leave,
But like that vapour soon shall melt in air.
Put forth thine hand upon my shadowy arm,
No earthly particles are here;
How can a spirit mortal substance harm!
And if not harm thee, wherefore shou’d’st thou fear?
Seldom do happy spirits deign to talk
With human nature, gross and frail;
We love not on this wretched world to walk,
—And feel the cold night’s shiv’ring gale:
Yet sometimes do we a thin form assume,
A vapour, thicker than the common air,
To warn some former friend of threaten’d doom,—
To right the injur’d, or save virtue fair.
This is my errand now—for this I leave
Those bright abodes, would dim thy mortal eye;
Nor can man’s boasted faculties conceive
Aught of those joys prepar’d for us on high,
Where bliss is lost in wond’rous ecstacy.
But I will not prolong my visit here,
Nor lose those moments of supreme delight,
So once again I bid thee, soldier, hear
Thy senses free from all benumbing fright.
A little further bring thy wayward feet,
And bend thine ear to this one spot of ground;
But speak not, though thy startled ear should meet
An unexpected, an appalling sound.
Alphonso bent his body to the ground,
His heart almost bereft of life;
When underneath he trembling heard resound,
The pleading voice of his young lovely wife.
Thus did her tongue most eloquently move,
In answer to a ruffian’s lawless love:
Oh, spare me yet! in mercy spare!
And think of virtue and of honour fair,
Of Friendship’s hallow’d name;—
Think of Alphonso’s last request,
When straining thee to his pure breast,
He left thee guardian of my peace, my fame.
Oh Hubert! tho’ in caverns deep,
Thou dost thy horrid vigils keep
Away from mortal eye;
There is a power who fully knows
Thy guilty purpose and my woes,
And all thy guilt, and all thy perfidy.
’Tis not too late, oh Hubert! to restore
The hapless Ellen to her home once more
In innocence and fame.
My tongue to him shall ne’er betray
How you have lur’d me far away,
To cover me with shame.
Restore me pure, and hear me freely swear,
I ne’er to human being will declare
The secrets of this place;
Ne’er shall the grateful Ellen tell,
That you with midnight robbers dwell,
And your high birth disgrace.
Alphonso listen’d—whilst chill horror stole
O’er his convuls’d, and almost madden’d soul,
Is it delusion all? he frantic cried,
Or is that Ellen’s voice, my lovely bride?
The Spectre on her mouth her finger laid,
Or what appear’d so in the fleeting shade;
Whilst poor Alphonso, stretch’d along the ground,
Waited, with breathless bosom, the next sound:—
That sound was Ellen’s scream—he tore his hair,
And beat his breast in wild, in deep despair.
Hast thou no sword, the vision said,
Or is its use forgot?
Alphonso drew his glittering blade,
And search’d around the spot.
Pull at this ring, and quick descend
Those realms of guilt, of woe;
Tell Hubert, Agnes did thee send,
Whose blood he caus’d to flow.
Spare not Alphonso, but strike deep
To his corrupted heart.
I must not now thy footsteps keep,
Nor see his life depart.
Alphonso gave one strong, one giant stroke,—
The sword in Hubert’s quivering entrails broke;
And Ellen rush’d, still rich in virtue’s charms,
To the safe shelter of a husband’s arms.—
They left the cavern, but no trace was there,
Of the thin form of floating, painted air;
But on the spot a fragrant flow’ret grew,
That botanists or ancients never knew.
Return, fair Lady, to thy peaceful bow’r;
Trust not thy bright but charm’d eyes;
Thou can’st not see thy lover’s foul disguise.
Pluck from thy snowy breast that treach’rous flow’r,
Gifted with baneful, with destructive pow’r.
Shut not thine eyes, oh Lady! sweet and young,
Plunge not thus rashly in the ready snare;
Pity indeed, that one so matchless fair,
Should be enthral’d by spells and magic strong,
And not attend my warning friendly tongue.
Lady, this is the witching time of night;
And thou art ent’ring th’ enchanted grove.
He who has gain’d thine ear with tales of love,126 R3v 126
Is that far-fam’d, that dreaded Mountain-Sprite,
Who fills this grove with yells, each bosom with affright.
He seeks thee, lovely Lady, for his bride,
And woos thee in a Knight’s most gallant form;
He means this night, amidst a raging storm,
To fling his noble air and garb aside,
And bear thee, shrieking, o’er the forest wide.
Too late will then repentance come for thee,
Clasp’d in his cold, his with’ring arms,
Fainting, convuls’d, with vast and wild alarms,
No human pow’r can save or set thee free,—
Lady, too late, you then will think of me.
And who art thou? presumptuous stranger say!
That thus uncourteous stops a Lady’s way?
Why dost thou pour thy tales within mine ear!
Filling my trembling soul with doubt, with fear;127 R4r 127
Wounding the honor of my noble Knight,
Whose eye alone would drive thee from his sight?
But see, my Hero comes!—stranger retire,
Or dread the brave Rinaldo’s justly-kindled ire.
Lady, in mercy yet one moment stay!
My life to save thee I woul’d free bestow!
Rush not thus madly on to utter woe;
The anguish that awaits thee who can say,
Should yon false Knight bear thee with him away!
On yon blue mountain’s bleak and airy height,
Could you endure the cold and wintry gale?
Cloth’d in those misty vapours that exhale,
Expos’d to tempests, ’midst the howling night,
Lock’d in the arms of the fell Mountain-Sprite!
You must attend him on his business dread,—
To give the warning at the hour of death,
To watch the murd’rer’s last convulsive breath,128 R4v 128
Then snatch his spirit from the life-warm bed,
To scenes where human foot should never tread,
To witness things unfit for mortal eyes.
Oft will he force thee, panick-struck and pale,
Regardless of thy pray’rs, thy tears, thy cries,—
To hear the suff’ring spirit’s dreadful wail,
And Demon’s laugh,—’till life or reason fail.
Lady, I could a tale of horror tell,
But that I freeze, I tremble at the sight
Of him who seems to you a noble Knight.
Oh, can I leave thee to this monster fell!
Can I endure to say that word—Farewell.—
On prancing steed of noble mien,
Caparison’d with gold;
Clad in a vest of em’rald green,
Advanc’d the Lover bold.
A dazzling plume of feathers fair,
Danc’d as his courser trod;129 S1r 123129
His form look’d bright beyond compare,
He mov’d, he seem’d a God.
My Love! my Emmeline! he cried,
My beauteous, my affianc’d bride!
Let me enfold those wond’rous charms,
And clasp thee in my longing arms.
The stranger rush’d between the enamour’d pair,
And with bold hand seiz’d on the magic flow’r,
Possest of potent charm, of soul-subduing pow’r,
And tore it from the bosom of the fair.
The flow’ret false assum’d a serpent’s shape,
And hissing, rais’d its execrable head;
Uncoil’d its hideous length, and made escape,
Lost in the mazes of the forest dread.
Instant the mask fell from the foul fiend’s face,
Whilst the fair Lady shriek’d with wild affright,—S 130 S1v 124130
Her Knight had lost his symmetry and grace,
And stood reveal’d, the horrid Mountain-Sprite.
His dress he from the living Tiger tore,
His shaggy hair, matted and red with gore,
Hung o’er his eyes, that darted baneful fire,
With looks of malice deep, and horrible desire.
One dreadful moment he before them stood,—
Then gave a Demon’s laugh—and turning, sought the wood:—
His frightful yells did the whole night resound,
Scaring each village-maid, and swain around.
The Lady rais’d her eyes of brightest blue
On her deliv’rer—whom she instant knew;
And beaming on him those refulgent eyes,
Thus breath’d her gratitude and great surprize:
Oh, Edgar! dear and much-respected friend!
How shall my tongue express
Those feelings yet I scarce can comprehend,
Whilst I thy Friendship bless.
Forgive my blindness, dear and gen’rous youth,
Which could not see thy worth;
Thy long-felt love, thy constant truth,
Now valued most on earth.
Oh! if thy love has not expir’d,
Receive my offer’d heart;
And by a mutual flame inspir’d,
We never more will part.
Young Edgar seiz’d her hand with joy—with bliss,
And on it prest a soft respectful kiss;—
She lov’d with grateful fervour all her life,
And prov’d to Edgar a most faithful wife.
The Bridal Banquet.
Close sat the guests, the splendid hall along,
The costly goblets were full-charg’d with wine,
The aged minstrel tun’d his harp divine,
And charm’d those guests with many a varied song.
Scarce cou’d Fitzallen’s dark and piercing eye
Reach to the bottom of his sumptuous board;
With secret pride his bosom overflow’d,
That he was Lord of all this pageantry.
He turn’d towards his fair, his matchless Bride,
Who sat in virgin sweetness by his side;
And as he gaz’d enraptur’d on her charms,
He long’d to fold her in his ardent arms.
Pledge me, my honour’d guests, Fitzallen cried,
Health, Joy, and Honour to Fitzallen’s bride.
He rose, and held the sparkling goblet high,
Whilst the fair bride uprais’d her azure eye.
Yes; I will pledge thee! cried an unknown Knight,
In this large goblet of no common mould;
Mark you, Fitzallen, ’tis not made of gold,
Nor does it sparkle with rich jewels bright.
Within this cup there is much richer wine,
More rosy red, more costly far than thine!
Know’st thou this cup, Fitzallen?—dost thou start!
Can such a thing as this affect Fitzallen’s heart?
But hear me all, within this chamber wide,
Health, Joy, and Honour, to Fitzallen’s bride.
Thus having spoke, he quaff’d from human scull,
Which, to the brim, with human blood was full.
One drop alone fell on Fitzallen’s hand,
Who gaz’d, convuls’d * * * * *
Just at this moment, an appalling sound
Of fire was heard, thro’ all the streets around;
Pembroke threw down his book, and ran to see
Where this alarm, and midnight fire might be.
Hurrying, he press’d amidst an idle crow’d,
Who rush’d to gaze, but could no help afford.
The cry of fire still sounding thro’ the air,
With female shrieks, and accents of despair;
Whilst the red sky reflected its sad ray,
Glow’d with an orient tint, and turn’d the night to day.
He sees the raging elements devour,
And views how useless is the engines’ pow’r;
Beholds the crackling timbers break in twain,
And feels, alas! that human help is vain.
High at the window, see! a female stands,
With flowing hair, and with uplifted hands;135 S4r 129135
Soon will the angry flames impetuous spread,
And round that form their lambent brightness shed:
Another moment, and they will not spare,—
Will no one save a form so young, so fair?
Alas! the firemen can no succour give,
They say, that none can pass that fire and live;
The boldest of their tribe confess’d their fears,
And e’en the rugged Fireman burst in tears.
Is there no way so fair a flow’r to save,
From the dread horrors of that burning grave?
What shout is that which bursts upon the ear?
Why does the Fireman brush away his tear?
Oh! does that loud huzza indeed proclaim,
That she is rescu’d from the raging flame!
What cannot Love effect!—’tis Pembroke bears
The senseless object of his hopes, his cares;
’Tis Mary who lies fainting in his arms,
And Vernon rescu’d from the fire’s alarms.
Beneath a double load our Hero stands,
Amidst a shout of Joy, a general clap of hands.136 S4v 130136
Exhausted quite, no longer can his feet
Support his weight,—he sinks with toil and heat;
And Nature on his o’er-spent frame bestows
Insensibility, and soft repose.
End of Book the Ninth.
Book the Tenth.
Perish that Man who, from a thirst of gold,
Will suffer love or honour to be sold;
Will barter, for a fortune or a name,
His pure affections, or his spotless fame;
Despising those soft bonds that Cupid ties,
Or those fine feelings that from virtue rise,
To drag a chain of rich and splendid ore,
For Avarice or Folly to adore.
What pity can that venal bosom claim,
Who sacrifices Love’s most holy flame
To Plutus and his gold? tho’ care should dart
His sharpest arrow in his selfish heart;T 138 T1v 132138
Tho’ ridicule shou’d oft repeat his name,
Coupled with foul dishonour and with shame;
And Love revenge the outrage he has borne,
And make his wife betray him up to scorn:
He shall not Pity’s gentle balsam prove,
Who, for a fortune, yielded up his Love.
How few the real wants that man requires,
When free from luxury and vain desires;
Comfort oft leaves the board where splendour shines,
And with good-humour, and with neatness dines;
Forsakes the gilded domes and halls of wealth,
To live with easy competence, and health:
And often flies the down and silken bed,
On the white wholesome couch to lay her head.
Since then no solid blessing wealth bestows,
But to relieve a fellow-creature’s woes;
If, at the final hour, it cannot save
Its owner one short moment from the grave;
And since not all its boasted pow’r can buy
One genuine tear from soft affection’s eye:139 T2r 133139
Since it will neither purchase Wit nor Fame,
Nor Friendship fair, nor Honour’s sacred name,—
How weak is man, his sterling wealth to pay,
And throw that gem—a virtuous love away;
To gain vast riches, with a heartless wife,
A splendid table, and a wretched life.—
Affection pure! the richest gem on earth,
From Love and Virtue it derives its birth;
Should fortune frown, and keen misfortune press,
The Friend, the Lover, still has pow’r to bless:
And when they both concentre in a Wife,
They form the brightest charm of human life.
The Hero of this little tale we left
With his fair mistress, each of sense bereft.
The grateful Vernon who was rescued there,
Afforded them each kind maternal care;
And Pembroke’s servant flew to his relief,
Speaking, in native Welsh, his tones of grief:
A poor uncultur’d lad, of manners wild,
An aged Widow’s prop—her only Child.T2 140 T2v 134140
Pembroke who studied nature more than art,
And look’d beyond the manners to the heart;
Found out that Davy was both good and kind,
And tho’ in coarse attire, possess’d a faithful mind.
The diamond, when discover’d in the mine,
Must lose its crust, ere it will deign to shine;
To vulgar eyes it seems a common stone,
Its latent worth unvalued and unknown;
Not so when polish’d by the workman’s care,
It sparkles on the bosom of the fair;
When glowing with each rich and varied dye,
It sheds its beams, and fixes every eye:
Superior to all gems, it darts its rays,
And all may know the diamond by its blaze.
So merit oft doth with the poor reside,
And the rough garb may brightest virtue hide;
By pure and genuine modesty represt,
Genius oft slumbers in its owner’s breast:
And all the noblest feelings of the mind,
Beneath their native crust may be confin’d.141 T3r 135141
But should some chance polish this coat away,
Their brilliance shines unrivall’d as the day;
For want of this, unvalued and unknown,
They, like the diamond, seem some common stone.
Insensible, young Pembroke was convey’d
To his own inn, and on a sofa laid,
Where soon suspended sense awoke again
To mental joy, but to corporeal pain.—
For sweet delight fill’d all his beating heart,
And pour’d a balmy cordial o’er his smart;
His arm bore witness, tho’ it throbb’d with pain,
That it had sav’d from death his Love again.
So does the Patriot wounded Soldier feel,
When conscious merit seeks his wounds to heal;
So feels the gallant son of Ocean’s wave,
Knowing he bleeds his native land to save.
The surgeon was dispatch’d, with tender care,
By Pembroke, to attend his Mary fair,
Ere he would let him to his wound apply
The salutary, cooling remedy;142 T3v 136142
But Mary needed not his proffer’d aid,
The raging fire had spar’d the lovely maid:
But in her bosom burnt a gentler flame,
Pure as what Angels feel, and like theirs void of shame.
When Mary from the pillow rais’d her head,
And from her frame benumbing torpor fled,
She gaz’d around the room, with vast surprize;
And feeling recollections soft arise,
She fix’d on Vernon her enquiring eyes.
Was it some vision, or did Pembroke save
Last night, your Mary from a burning grave?
Surely that eye I never could mistake,
No other form could such emotion wake.
Or has the dreadful shock disturb’d my mind,
Injur’d my mem’ry, or struck reason blind,
And suffer’d fancy to rove unconfin’d?
You smile, my gentle friend, and now I see
It is indeed a dear reality;
But oh! in mercy ease my anxious breast,
And all those fears that will not be repress’d.143 T4r 137143
Is Pembroke safe, or has he borne for me
Some serious, some dreadful injury?
Oh! does he suffer—— but whilst thus she spoke,
The surgeon enter’d, and the sentence broke.
But when she heard confirm’d her anxious fears,
Her full heart found relief in sudden tears;
And in a storm of strong emotions tost,
She cold reserve, in genuine feeling lost:
Oh, haste! she cried, seeking to check her grief,
Oh, fly to our deliverer’s relief!
Oh, ease his pain! which I wou’d gladly share,
And to him Mary’s Gratitude declare.
The surgeon gave a smile, but did not speak,
Which rais’d a blush on Mary’s lovely cheek;
She felt the warmth with which she had express’d
The lively gratitude that fill’d her breast:
And fear’d she had unwittingly betray’d,
How much the tyrant love her bosom sway’d.
For when some passion does the mind possess,
When strong excitement on the feelings press,144 T4v 138144
How much unfit is reason then to guide,
How vain her efforts Joy or Grief to hide!
Unless hypocrisy its veil bestows,
And teaches us to cloak our joys our woes.
During this tumult in our Mary’s mind,
Friendship its influence for a time resign’d,—
Love reign’d triumphant, and wou’d not be confin’d.
But when reflection o’er her feelings came,
A sense of outrag’d Friendship, mix’d with shame,
Press’d on her beating heart—Oh Jane! she cried,
Thou know’st not how thy Mary’s heart is tried!
Wou’d that this conflict in my breast was o’er,
And that this suff’ring bosom beat no more.—
How apt is man to wish, to pray to die,
Borne down by pain, or breathing sorrow’s sigh;
But when the hand of Death indeed appears,
He clings to life, tho’ bath’d in sorrow’s tears.
The worthy Matron saw with joy, that Love
In secret smil’d, and would victorious prove;145 U1r 139145
Nor did she scruple when, by kindness led,
She bent her form o’er our young Hero’s bed,
To hint the cause why Mary had return’d
With slight, the purest flame that ever burn’d;
And, with a delicacy all her own,
Explain’d why Mary had abruptly flown:
Much, she continued, as her worth I prize,
All perfect as she seems within my eyes,—
Still I must think she over-rates the claim,
Due to celestial Friendship’s sacred name.
I see it all! cried the enraptur’d youth,
I see my Mary’s Friendship and her Truth;
And oh! I trust that even she shall say,
Friendship now stands not in her Lover’s way;
For her fair Cousin will I know approve,
Shou’d Mary deign to bless me with her love.
He added, That, by many fears possess’d,
He had his confidence on Elliot press’d;
And from him, in return, had just receiv’d
A letter, that all love and rapture breath’d.U 146 U1v 140146
That told him he had hopes he soon should gain
The willing hand of his lov’d Lady Jane;
And promising to search each place around,
If any trace of Mary could be found;—
To keep a watchful eye, that he might see
The smallest sign of fraud or treachery;—
For Elliot thinks with me, and dares to say,
That Mary has been spirited away:
But he shall quickly find our fears are o’er,
And that she is restor’d to us once more.
You must, my gentle friend, to her explain,
How Elliot loves, and is belov’d again;
So will she have no pretext to conceal
The tender int’rest she may deign to feel:
And sure those eyes have more than once express’d,
That Pembroke was not hateful to her breast.
My kind preserver! Vernon gently cried,
On Elliot’s honour all may be relied;
Send for him here—and all shall then go well,—
And, tho’ I must not Ladies’ secrets tell,147 U2r 141147
Yet am I prophetess enough to know,
Mary is not dispos’d to cause you woe:—
She shall alone her love or hate reveal,
Honour upon my mouth has plac’d a seal.
Thus cheerfully she spoke, and then retir’d
To Mary, who for Pembroke oft enquir’d;
Made her repeat his converse o’er and o’er,
’Till the tir’d matron would repeat no more.
To Elliot was a letter soon convey’d,
Saying where Pembroke found his lovely maid;
Begging him not a single word to say,
But on to Bath that instant haste away.
End of Book the Tenth.
Book the Eleventh.
Now want I Petrarch’s soft impassion’d lyre,
That breathes of love, and does its flame inspire;
Or tender Sappho’s gently-melting lay,
Fit numbers for the scene I wou’d convey.
Those whom the hand of age has frosted o’er,
Whose hearts can feel the throb of love no more,
Let them recal that first entrancing hour,
When they confess’d its all-subduing pow’r;
When they first dar’d to breathe or hear the sigh,
To gaze with transport, or cast down the eye;
Let them retrace the moonlight’s tender walk,
The stolen glance, the sweet confiding talk;149 U3r 143149
The soft confession, and the heartfelt bliss,
When truth and honour sanctified the kiss:
Thus mem’ry shall assist my humble lay,
Our lovers’ meeting, and their looks pourtray.—
But those who at the present moment feel
The tyrant love, o’er all their senses steal,—
They want not Fancy’s hand, nor Memory’s pow’r,
To paint the scene of that delightful hour.
Their hearts each varying blush, each look can tell,
When Pembroke dar’d on the lov’d theme to dwell;—
When Mary heard—but offer’d not to chide,
Check’d not his love, nor sought her own to hide.
’Twas thus he spoke, whilst many a new-born grace,
Glow’d in rich tints on Mary’s lovely face:
Oh! seek not, sweetest maid, that blush to hide,
Let it be thine, as ’tis thy Lover’s pride;
Oh! ever may he see thus purely speak,
Nature’s own blush upon thy beauteous cheek:
Far richer gem to his delighted eye,
Than those which glow beneath an Indian sky.150 U3v 144150
They can be worn with ease, be plac dplac’d by art,
But blushes spring spontaneous from the heart.
Nature’s sensations may the tongue conceal,
It may disclose at pleasure, or reveal.
Within the eye, expression may be hid
By the long lash, or by the down-cast lid;
But the bright blush—Truth’s ensign will betray,
Both what the tongue and eye refuse to say:
Henceforth, then, Mary, shall that tell-tale glow,
Teach me thy bosom’s dearest thoughts to know.
Shou’d I offend thee, let thy blush reprove,
And be the signal also of thy love.
Young Elliot now arriv’d, with joy survey’d
The noble Pembroke, and his lovely maid;
Witness’d the mutual passion that possess’d
Each look, each action, of each glowing breast.
It beat within his own, as he confirm’d
How Lady Jane his long-felt flame return’d;
And as he on her worth, her beauties dwelt,
They conscious smil’d, and all his fervour felt.
Our fav’rite Vernon, rous’d by the affright,
Caus’d by the fire on that eventful night,
When Pembroke, with Herculean strength convey’d
Her from the scene, with his beloved maid;
Now found, that fear had rudely sent away
Those foes to jocund health and converse gay:
Languor had left her frame, and ennui fled,
Whilst cheerfulness re-enter’d in their stead.
Thus in that fine machine, whose wond’rous pow’r,
Shews us how time is stealing hour by hour;
Some trivial cause may its small wheels detain,
And stop the progress of its winding chain;
When some rude shock may chance its use restore,
And its entangled wheels proceed once more.
Again the cheerful smile, with touching grace,
Shed a soft genial sun-shine o’er her face;
The simple ballad, and melodious strain,
Had pow’r to charm her list’ning ear again:
The work of Fancy, or the tale of Truth,
Awoke again each feeling of her youth;152 U4v 146152
She had the tear of pity to bestow,
On real grief, or artificial woe;
With manners gentle, delicate, refin’d,
She had both strength and nobleness of mind.
No narrow feeling did with her reside,
Stranger to prejudice, to paltry pride;
Pity by her was ever freely shewn
To every human frailty but her own.
She judg’d not her own sex by laws severe,
And e’en the outcast wand’rer claim’d her tear.
No wonder Mary, form’d by such a guide,
Free from coquetish airs or beauty’s pride,
Shou’d be unconscious that her form possest
Charms that might warm the coldest, hardest breast;
That soft attraction rested on her face,
With sweet expression, dignity, and grace;
From affectation, and from folly free,
The child of beauty and simplicity.
How slowly does old Time his way pursue,
Pain by his side, or sorrow in his view;153 X1r 147153
But when the fair, the rosy-footed hours,
Dance round his form, and strew his path with flow’rs;
When Joy is the companion of his flight,
And Hope, with angel smile, is in his sight;
When Pleasure in his ear most sweetly sings,
Or Fancy lends him her bright motley wings;
How swiftly does the vet’ran wing his way!
How does he hurry on the jocund day!
Thus said our Hero, whilst at Bath he staid,
And thus responded his belov’d maid.
Scarcely they thought the happy morn begun,
When in the West they saw the setting sun;—
And often did they chide the sober night,
Which bade them part till the return of light.
The wound of Pembroke he could scarcely feel,
For joy has magic pow’r all wounds to heal;
And can compound a balsam from the heart,
Which mocks all potent drugs, all human art.
’Twas now that Mary ventur’d to relate,
To her fair Cousin, all her happy fate;X 154 X1v 148154
And with a glowing heart, did she express
Her sorrow past, her present happiness.
How perfect, she continued, would it be,
Cou’d it be witness’d, dearest Jane, by thee;—
Oh! might I hope that you would condescend
To meet at Bath your grateful happy friend;
Perchance I might to Pembroke’s suit lend ear,
And purchase all a Bride’s gay trappings here.
Perhaps, from your example, lay aside
The name of Sydney, for the name of Bride.
Elliot this letter took, and left the pair,
The Halcyon days of mutual love to share.
’Twas now that Vernon found by chance the hoard
Of Legends, left by the poetic Lord,—
She read the Spectre, and the Mountain-Sprite,
And then Fitzallen and the unknown Knight;
And finding that the hour was early still,
She read the Witch, or Harrow on the Hill.
Alas! how fast falls down the snow,
How piercing is the wind!
Where shall the weary Agnes go,
A sheltering cot to find?
How trackless now appears the plain!
How wild the prospect round!
And I o’erspent with cold, with pain,
Am sinking to the ground.
Oh, what a bitter wintry night
Is this alone to rove!
Nought but an endless waste in sight,
And far from all I love.
Here I must perish if I stay,
Benumb’d with cold, with fear;—
But sure that is some taper’s ray,—
Some friendly cot is near.
Young Agnes quicken’d now her pace,
Whilst Hope illum’d her heart:—
Screen’d with her cloak her pallid face,
And bade her fears depart.
Guided by the now-constant flame,
She soon a hovel found;
Then shiv’ring, drench’d with snow and rain,
She made its door resound.
Again she knock’d—but no return
Met her cold list’ning ear;—
Tho’ still she saw the taper burn
Within a window near.
Once more she knock’d, with ruder hand,
By wretched feelings press’d,
For her wet form refus’d to stand,
And life scarce warm’d her breast.
Yet still no cheering sound she heard
Approaching to the door;
No footsteps in the hovel stirr’d,
Or mov’d along the floor.
Exhausted, weak, and very faint,
She cast to heav’n her eyes;
When in the hut a piteous plaint
Fill’d her with great surprize.
Her feeble frame once more was brac’d,—
Pity excitement gave;
She from her bosom pale fear chas’d,—
Compassion made her brave.
Some hapless creature aid requires,
The feeling Agnes cries,
Perhaps some lonely wretch expires,
No hand to close her eyes.
A simple latch was all the bar
That this poor hut possess’d;
Why should the bolt be brought from far,
When poverty’s the guest!
She drew the string—she op’d the door—
And cast her eyes around;
The light still quiver’d as before,
And still she heard the sound.
Before a little smoky fire,
Which could no comfort give,
Which seem’d unwilling to expire,
Yet had not strength to live.
On a low stool, a female sat,
If mortal she might be;
Whilst on each side there mew’d a cat,
In squalid misery.
To them, with piteous weaken’d moan,
The tatter’d wretch complain’d,
Who answer’d every groan with groan,
By famine sorely pain’d.
She blew the embers with her breath,
And mutter’d out some pray’r;
Then turn’d her face—but grisly Death
Had stamp’d his image there.
She on the taper fix’d her eyes,
Where glow’d Death’s dreadful fires,
I shall begone! she feebly cries,
Ere thy short life expires.
Birtha! exclaim’d the wand’ring fair,
That was my Mother’s name,—
Her other she would not declare,
She cover’d it with shame.
She bade me, on her dying bed,
Seek Harrow on the Hill,
Where stands a cot, by woodbines spread,
Beside a bubbling rill.
There ’tis my Mother dwells, she cried,—
There weeps her daughter’s fate;
Oh! tell her, penitent I died,
I felt my fault too late.
I found the little woodbine cot,
Beside the bubbling rill;
But ah! it is another’s lot
That dwelling sweet to fill.—
My child! my child! the Witch exclaim’d,
Come to this aged heart—
—Just as she spoke, the taper flam’d,
As ready to depart.
She clasp’d her Grandchild in her arms,
Breath’d to her God a pray’r,
Then, gazing on that Grandchild’s charms,
Her spirit fled in air.
The taper shot a dying ray,
Then blaz’d—and then retir’d—
Then gave one glare like broadest day,
Then flicker’d—and expir’d.
Poor Agnes fainted—and was found,
Tho’ pale, yet rich in charms,
By me, her Lover, on the ground,
Clasp’d in dead Birtha’s arms.
I bought the cot, beside the rill
Which bubbles thro’ the grove,
And there in peace, on Harrow-Hill,
We live in mutual Love.
Stranger, shou’dst thou behold some form
Half craz’d, and bent with care,
Borne down by life’s unpitying storm,
Which prov’d too hard to bear;—
Oh! let not Insult mock her grief,
Add not fresh weight to woe;
And if thou canst not give relief,
At least a tear bestow.
Oh! could’st thou know the Madman’s tale,
How grief has on him prest,
Sure Pity would o’er Mirth prevail,
And check the cruel jest.
End of Book the Eleventh.
Book the Twelfth.
Hymen’s bright torch, when lit by Love divine,
Whilst life endures, will calmly constant shine;
The storms of life may wreck both Hope and Joy,
But never can this sacred lamp destroy:
Death’s hand alone can quench those living fires
That Virtue sanctions, and with her expires.
Oh! may our Charlotte’s and her Cobourg’s days,
Be ever gilded by its purest blaze;
May it endure with lustre ever bright,
And prove a beacon to each Briton’s sight,
Guiding each young and honourable pair,
To catch the influence of example fair,167 Y4r 161167
That so their wedded lives may happy prove,
Blest like their Cobourg’s in unfading Love.
But when that torch with baser passion glows,
Or it the sordid spark of int’rest shews;
When Fancy’s hand alone promotes its rays.
Or when it kindles with Ambition’s blaze,
Soon vanishes the artificial light,
And leaves its votary to an endless night:
At least till Death’s cold hands those bonds divide,
Forg’d by false passion, avarice, or pride.
Thy daughters, England, long have worn the crown,
For female Virtue, and for fair Renown;
But wherefore should they these bright honours prize,
Why shine superior in all Europe’s eyes?
If Britain’s sons, by sordid feelings led,
Think not of modest Virtue when they wed;
And disregarding Beauty’s winning charms,
Woo only Fortune to their venal arms:
Defying lovely woman to bewitch,
Unless she boasts a title or is rich.
He to whom fortune has, with niggard hand,
Deny’d the smiling tract of pasture land;
Who cannot whisper, as he walks alone,
Yon nodding wood, yon corn-field is mine own.
He who no tenant bows to as his Lord,
Nor boasts of gold, a rich and splendid hoard;
He must not lend his ear to Love’s soft tale,
Nor suffer genuine feeling to prevail;
He must not cramp his early morn of life,
And wed the portionless—tho’ lovely wife.
But when the hand of Providence has lent
Its varied store, and every blessing sent;
When plenty smiles upon the rich man’s board,
And he can every luxury afford,
Surely he may his great abundance share,
With some sweet maiden as Lavinia fair:—
One that like her, by adverse fortune prest,
Feels modest pride within her gentle breast.
Surely his heart may yield to Beauty’s charms,
And shelter Virtue in his gen’rous arms.
And thou, fair England! on whose happy shore
Asylums for distress are scatter’d o’er;
Whose Institutions on proud columns rise,
Conscious of worth, approaching to the skies.
Distinguish’d England! philanthropic Isle!
Who on the foreign exile deigns to smile;
Ah, wherefore dost thou not extend thy care,
And kindly influence, to thy daughters fair,
When doom’d the ills of poverty to share?
Why not hold forth a kind protecting hand
To the fair children of thy native land?
How many a drooping form by sorrow prest,
With virtue struggling in her anguish’d breast;
Goaded by poverty, has turn’d aside,
From female honour, rectitude, and pride;
Has yielded up her pure unsullied fame,
And to preserve her life—has spent that life in shame!
How many a faded cheek, where art now glows,
Might still have worn its bright, its native rose!Z 170 Z1v 164170
How many an eye, where baneful passion fires,
Where sits intemperance, with loose desires;
Had shot pure Nature’s beams devoid of art,
And won some honest Lover’s faithful heart;
Had shed soft sun-shine on domestic life,
And shone with the bright beam of Mother and of Wife;
Had but employment in the hour of woe,
Taught them the paths of industry to know;—
Had they but learnt where to procure them bread,
They had not known the paths of guilt to tread.—
Thou Parent, England! should’st the means supply
The tear of virtuous poverty to dry;
To Industry should’st open ev’ry door,
And give employment to thy daughters poor.
The Lady Jane one morning early stray’d,
Attended only by her fav’rite maid,
Through the rich spacious park she bent her way,
And saw the sun lead on the rosy day:
Listen’d, with rapture, to the sky-lark’s note,
Who e’en to Heaven’s high-gates attuned his throat;171 Z2r 165171
Who, springing from his low and earthy nest,
His new-awaken’d sense of joy express’d.
She then, to while away the passing hours,
Cull’d a fair nosegay of the wild field flow’rs;
Observ’d them thro’ a microscopic glass,
And many a moss, and many a varied grass:
Full many an insect she enlarg’d, survey’d,
In feathers gay, or burnish’d gold array’d;
In whose small forms beat still some smaller heart,
With each minute, but necessary part.
And as each new-found wonder met her eye,
She thought of Him who made both earth and sky;
Of Him who shows his wondrous skill and pow’r,
In forming e’en an insect or a flow’r:
Nor could she her quick-roving Fancy bound,
When reaching a small spot of rising ground,
She cast her eyes on the fair prospect round.
What wonders, she exclaim’d, are yet in store,
When this confin’d, this earthly state is o’er!Z2 172 Z2v 166172
What varied forms, excelling these of ours!
What new-born faculties, what wondrous pow’rs!
Are there for us in unknown worlds to see,
Through countless ages of eternity;
When higher gifted we may clearly scan,
What now lies hid from frail, from mortal man;
Pierce thro’ this atmosphere which now conceals,
And view the Universe with all its secret wheels!
My sweet enthusiast! Elliot’s voice reply’d,—
She turn’d, and saw him standing by her side,—
Love shone with transport on his open face,
As he dar’d fold her in his warm embrace.
Nor did the servant witness this fond scene,
Some friendly oaks their branches spread between.
Chide not, the Lover cried, for surely this
May claim for its reward one tender kiss.—
Oh, it is Mary’s well-known hand, she cried,
And soon forgot her anger and her pride.
With trembling hand, she Mary’s letter read,
Whilst crimson blushes o’er her fair cheek spread;173 Z3r 167173
And well could Elliot every thought divine,
For well he knew the purport of each line:
And when he claim’d that promise she once made,
’Twas thus with downcast eye his mistress said—
If you my parents free approval gain,
Dread no coquetish trifling from your Jane.
Much did she fear she should upraise a storm,
When she the Countess ventur’d to inform,
That she at length from Mary had receiv’d
A letter, which the warmest Friendship breath’d;
She begs me your forgiveness seek to gain,
For what has caus’d herself and us such pain;
She trusts you will not her request refuse,
And that her motive will her flight excuse.—
She also claims the sanction of your eyes,
To witness her’s, and Pembroke’s nuptial ties.
The Countess knew sound policy too well,
Her real motives for her acts to tell;
So wise resolv’d, since now it was too late,
To circumvent our Heroine’s happy fate;174 Z3v 168174
To play the tender, the forgiving part,
And varnish real hatred o’er with art:
Then seeking all her genuine thoughts to hide,
She promis’d to attend the destin’d bride.
Young Elliot now appear’d with his request—
He pleaded long, and would not be represt.
The Countess smil’d with kind maternal air,
And to her bosom prest her daughter fair;
Then sought her Lord, and soon from him obtain’d
That grace they had from her so freely gain’d.
Now all was bustle thro’ the spacious hall;
The Coachman to the Groom was heard to call;
The Lady’s-maids were almost out of breath,
And the House-keeper nearly caught her death.
To Bath! to Bath! the Valet hurrying cried.
To Bath! each busy maid and man reply’d.
Cases and trunks were from their shelter brought,
And the imperial of the coach was sought.
With pleas’d emotion Jane beheld this scene,
As she pass’d by, towards the village-green,175 Z4r 169175
To take of Margaret an affecting leave,
And bid the faithful creature cease to grieve.
The aged Margaret, Mary’s humble friend,
Felt that her life was drawing to its end;
So ask’d permission, in a cottage nigh,
In quietness to draw her latest sigh.
And thither Jane, by tend’rest feelings led,
Wou’d sit whole hours beside old Margaret’s bed;
Wou’d pray her not for Mary’s sake to mourn,
And cheer her with the hope of her return.
As now she enter’d, with a joyous air,
She press’d old Marg’ret’s hand in her’s so fair,
Did I not tell you, sportively she cried,
That you should hail your lovely Mary—bride!
That you shou’d yet her offspring live to see,
And nurse some infant Mary on your knee?
What I have told you, see, her letter proves,
She weds—she is belov’d—and truly loves;
And we are hasting one and all away,
To pay due honour to her wedding day:176 Z4v 170176
So let me dress your cap with favours fair,
Which we will write you, Margaret, when to wear.
Old Margaret’s eyes were fill’d with joyful tears,—
She felt reliev’d from all her poignant fears;
So raising her weak hands, and aged eyes,
She thus to Jane’s delightful tale replies:
Bless you, sweet Lady, for your tender care;
May you, like Mary, every blessing share;
And may your life, when drawing to its end,
Be cheer’d like mine, with such a tender friend.
Dear Lady, you have made me young again,—
I feel not now my old rheumatic pain;
And my weak eyes have not for many years
Seen half so clear, as since these joyous tears.
’Twas almost night, when at the York hotel,
Our travelling friends arriv’d at Bath all well;
Fatigu’d and peevish, the proud Statesman Lord,
Enquir’d what supper cou’d the house afford?
And felt reliev’d, when ev’ry modern dish,
With game and turtle, venison and fish,177 2Ar 171177
Were all at his command—fatigue now fled,
And smiles return’d before he went to bed.
His daughter wish’d the creeping hours away,
And bless’d the ruddy streaks of early day;
Then, led by Elliot, she full warmly prest
Her friend, her Mary, to her faithful breast:
Delicious tears, unmix’d with sorrow’s sighs,
Rose like the gentle dew within their eyes;
Glitter’d like orient gems upon each cheek,
And in that moment did a volume speak.
The Lady Jane now turn’d, with tender grace,
On her instructress, her delighted face;
And press’d her also in a kind embrace.
Our Heroine with true nobleness of mind,
All anger ’gainst the Countess had resign’d;
And when presented by her daugher fair,
Nought but the truest Gratitude was there.
She thought but only of the good receiv’d,
Forgot how much her childhood had been griev’d;2A 178 2Av 172178
And look’d so sweet, so innocently gay,
So free from triumph all she had to say.
And so ennobled in his Lordship’s eyes,
Was the fair object of young Pembroke’s sighs,
That drawing him with pompous air aside,
He told him with much condescending pride,
He meant to act as Father to his bride:—
Whilst Jane insisted that her Cousin’s dress
Shou’d be the twin of hers, and not one jewel less.
Need I go further, and the scene relate—
Describe how long the bridegrooms had to wait;
Count the bright blushes on each fair bride’s cheek,
Or of their looks of Love and Friendship speak?
Need I the bridegrooms’ joy and transports shew?
The heart that Loves will surely answer—No!
And own that verse is pow’rless to pourtray
The festive pleasures of that happy day.
Like that fam’d Artist who aspir’d in vain,
A Father’s anguish for his Daughter slain,179 2A2r 173179
Justly to paint—at length conceal’d the face,
And hid the grief he wanted skill to trace:—
So must I here a closing curtain throw,
And veil true Pleasure as he shrouded Woe.
Here cease my song—in these fastidious times
Of polish’d verse, and well-adjusted rhymes;
When no lame couplet gives the ear offence,
And pure description charms the oral sense.
If some harsh Critic, with unwelcome Truth,
Pronounce my rhymes oft faulty, oft uncouth;
Still if he own, throughout this simple tale,
My moral triumphs, tho’ my numbers fail:
Ne’er shall his stern rebuke my mind perplex,
Enough for me to justify my sex;—
Enough for me to bid that heartless tribe
Who rail at Woman, check the pointless jibe;
And learn from Mary, whilst her tale they scan,
Woman at Friendship’s call can equal Man.
Notes.Full many a Margaret who, with honour fraught.—Page 6. Margaret De Foix, Duchesse D’Eperon. The chiefs of the League having resolv’d to ruin the Duke D’Eperon, rendered him suspected at Court, and obtained an order to arrest him in the Chateau of which he was Governor. The Magistrate charged with this commission, found means to seize the Duchess, and placed her before the principal gate of the Citadel, with a view to make the Duke surrender. Calm amidst the dangers that surrounded her, though one of the officers who led her was killed at her feet, she replied to the enemy who exhorted her to advise her Husband to surrender, That she only regretted she had but one life to offer for the honour and safety of her Husband;—that she would shed the last drop of her blood to add new lustre to his reputation, or to lengthen his existence a single day; she held out her arms to the Duke, and told him It was her wish that her body might form a rampart against his enemies. The grace and energy of her expressions softened the hearts of her enemies, and, in the mean time, the Duke was relieved by some of his Friends; and the heroic Margaret entered by a ladder at one of the windows, and was received by her Husband as her tenderness and worth deserved.—La Gallerie des Femmes. 182 2A3v 176182 Full many an Eponina lives unknown.—Page 6. Eponina, a Roman lady, who, during nine years, nightly visited her husband in a subterraneous apartment, where he was obliged to conceal himself from the resentment of the Emperor, and who supposed him dead. She had two sons, who never saw the light of day, till they threw themselves, with their Mother, at the feet of Vespasian, to implore the pardon of their Father.—Plutarch.
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This Day is Published, Price 3s. 6d. The Literary Bazaar; or, Poets’ Council. A Grand Historic, Heroic, Serio-comic, Hudibrastic Poem, In Two Cantos. With a Pic-nic Elegy on Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Esq.
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