Mrs. Mary Robinson,
Engraved by Mr. Page from the picture by Sir Joshua Reynolds London. Published by Jones & Co 1826-02-18Feb.yFebruary 18, 1826.
of the Late
the Pieces Last Published.
The Three Volumes Complete in One.
Published by Jones & Company,
3, Acton Place, Kingsland Road. 18241824.
In an age when no publication can be presented to the world, unembellished by a life of the author, however trite and recent that life may be, it is to be hoped that compliance with the fashion of the times will exonerate the editor from the intention of uttering a twice told tale.
The principal, and, in some estimations, perhaps the most interesting events of the Author’s days have already been given from her own memoirs, yet it may be no unreasonable supposition, that this brief account which accompanies the most excellent part of her character may be justly appreciated when the mere annals of a beautiful woman are no more remembered.
Mrs. Robinson is descended from a respectable and ancient Irish family. Her father, Mr. Darby, was nephew of the celebrated American, Dr. Franklin, by the marriage of Miss Hester Franklin with the grandfather of Mrs. Robinson.
Mr. Darby lived at Bristol at the period of the author’s birth, and filled the situation of one of the most respectable merchants in that city, in partnership with the house of Miller and Elton. With the restless spirit of research which but too universally characterized his undertakings, he lost that fortune, in promoting a scheme for the commercial advantage of his country, by the proposal of a whale fishery, since brought to perfection at Newfoundland, which would have been better employed in securing independence to his infant family. Disgusted with the frowns of former friends, and the triumphs of his more prudent commercial brethren, he accepted the command of a seventy-four gun ship in the Russian service, and died in 1785-12December, 1785, universally esteemed by his brother officers, particularly by his friend admiral Greig, at whose immediate request he entered the service of the empress. His widow, who resided with Mrs. Robinson till the moment of her death, was grand-daughter of Catharine Seys of Boverton Castle in Glamorganshire, whose sister, Ann Seys, married lord King, then high chancellor of England, of whom see an account in Collins’s peerage. Mrs. Robinson received the first rudiments of her education at Bristol, where she gave many striking specimens of future genius, by an early and astonishing admiration of letters, of which poetry seemed her favourite literature. At six years of age she could write with a feeling far beyond her years, and a degree of propriety which never could have been instilled into her young imagination by the singsong exercises of a country school, had not the dawn of poetical inspiration, which has since burst forth with so much splendour, already begun to display its influence over the mind of the infant poet.
At ten years of age Mrs. Robinson was removed to a respectable school near London. At the early age of fifteen and three months she married Mr. Robinson, brother of the late commodore Robinson, in the service of the East India company. This gentleman was then a student in Lincoln’s Inn. This hasty match, of which love was the only basis, was, as may be supposed, attended by no great share of fortune’s smiles.
Shortly after Mrs. Robinson’s marriage her misfortunes commenced, as her family augmented, and the independence of her mind soon determined her to seek, within the capabilities of her own talents, to support herself and infant family. With this intention, after having undergone a variety of vicissitudes, she made her first appearance on the stage, under the immediate patronage of the dutchess of Devonshire, and the acknowledged pupil of the immortal Garrick. For three years she continued at Drury-Lane theatre, performing all the principal parts of tragedy and sentimental comedy.
At this, perhaps most unfortunate moment of her destiny, it was her fate to attract the attention of a distinguished personage, whose unceasing importunities obliged her, with reluctance, to quit a profession, by which she might have secured, to her latest hour, both independence and admiration.
In the spring of 17831783 our poet was attacked with a violent and dangerous fever, occasioned by travelling all night in a damp post-chaise, to do an office of pecuniary friendship, for one who has since repaid her with neglect and ingratitude. 4 A2v 4 The langour which remained on the abatement of the disease terminated in a rheumatic fever, which, at the age of twenty-three, in the pride of youth and the bloom of beauty, reduced the frame of this lovely and unfortunate woman to the feebleness of an infant, which obliged her to be carried in the arms of her attendants to the last moment of her life.
About the period above mentioned Mrs. Robinson quitted England, in order to try the baths of Aix la Chapelle; from thence she removed to Paris, for the purpose of procuring better medical advice; every effort of the healing art having proved ineffectual, our poet once more resolved to return to her native home, and, by the exercise of mental acquirements, endeavour to alleviate the calamity of an agonizing and incurable disease.
To the muse, as the only solace to a mind of exquisite sensiblility, blended with more than female fortitude, did this lovely and unfortunate being retire for consolation. The strain of plaintive tenderness which pervades her earlier productions fully exemplified the impressions of an afflicted mind, striving to wander from itself; and, in the mazes of fiction, lose for a time the melancholy objects which fate had so early presented before her.
In the year 17901790, Mrs. Robinson produced her first prose work, entitled Vancenza, or the Dangers of Credulity. The small degree of fame she had already acquired by a few poetical works, which from time to time had found their way into the newspapers, naturally increased the demand for this new proof of Mrs. Robinson’s talents.
The whole edition of Vancenza was sold in one day. The work has since gone through five editions.
Shortly after this publication Mrs. Robinson, at the earnest request of her literary friends, amongst whom may be particularly classed the late Sir Joshua Reynolds and Edmund Burke, consented to publish the poems she had written, at intervals of pain, by subscription; a most splendid list, collected in sixteen weeks, fully exemplified the estimation in which her talents were held by this country, and by the splendid proofs of approbation which accompanied her subscribers’ letters, Mrs. Robinson may be justly said to have brought golden opinions from all sorts of people.
In the same year the death of our immortal Reynolds afforded a mournful, yet pleasing op portunity portunity to our poet, of uniting her talents with the more interesting feelings of affectionate regret. The monody to the memory of one of the earliest admirers of her muse was dedicated to the members of the Royal Academy.
About 17941794, Mrs. Robinson brought out a small novel, in two volumes, entitled The Widow. This work is certainly by no means equal to those which she has since published.
To The Widow may be added Mrs. Robinson’s prose publications of Angelina, a novel, Hubert de Sevrac, a romance, Walsingham, The False Friend, and The Natural Daughter, any of which might have done infinite credit to an author who had not so materially excelled in a far superior branch of literature.
In the autumn of 17951795, Mrs. Robinson finished her tragedy of The Sicilian Lover, and presented it for representation. This, more properly named, blank verse dramatic poem, having been laid by, in that pandemonium of genius and dulness, the prompter’s closet, for several months, was returned with a promise of representation early in the next season, but not before one of the most striking situations had been pilfered for another tragedy, which appeared shortly after. Digusted with the delay, and universal negative which, for some unknown cause, she ever experienced from managers, she resolved to print the tragedy, and leave its merits and defects to the decision of the public.
Mrs. Robinson continued thus growing in literary fame till the moment of her decease. At length her declining health becoming daily more visible and alarming, our poet retired to a cottage belonging to her daughter, near Windsor, where, after three months’ lingering agony, which she endured with that strength of fortitude that had marked every action of her life, she expired.
Mrs. Robinson is, by her own express desire, interred in Old Windsor Church-Yard.
Of Mrs. Robinson’s general character, it can only be added that she possessed a sensibility of heart and tenderness of mind which very frequently led her to form hasty decisons, while more mature deliberation would have tended to promote her interest and worldy comfort; she was liberal even to a fault; and many of the leading traits of her life will most fully evince, that she was the most disinterested of human beings. As to her literary character, the following pages, it may be presumed, will form a sufficient testimony.
To Mrs. Robinson,
by the Late General Burgoyne, Author of The Heiress, a Comedy, &c. &c. &c.
Laura! Mrs. Robinson’s most distinguished Poems appeared in the periodical prints of the day, under the fictitious signatures of Laura, Laura-Maria, Julia, Daphne, Oberon, Echo, and Louisa. when from thy beauteous eyes,
The tear of tender anguish flows;
Such magic in thy sorrow lies,
That ev’ry bosom shares thy woes.
When on thy lovely perfect face,
The sportive dimpled smile we see;
With eager hope the cause we trace,
And wish to share the bliss with thee.
For in thine highly gifted mind,
Superior charms so sweetly blend;
In each such gentle grace we find,
That Envy must thy worth commend.
Oh! who could gaze upon that lip,
That coral lip of brightest hue;
Nor wish the honied balm to sip;
More fresh, more sweet, than morning dew?
But when thy true poetic lays,
Pierce to the heart’s remotest cell;
We feel the conscious innate praise,
Which feeble language fails to tell.
So melting is thy lute’s soft tone,
Each breast unused to feel desire,
Confesses bless before unknown,
And kindles at the sacred fire.
So chaste, so eloquent thy song,
So true each precept it conveys,
That e’en the sage shall teach the young
To take their lesson from thy lays.
And when thy pen’s delightful art
Paints with soft touch Love’s tender flame;
Thy verse so melts and mends the heart,
That, taught by thee, we prize his name.
Or, when in plaintive melody,
Thou mourn’st the friend thy soul held dear;
Charm’d by thy power, we join with thee,
And weep in sadness o’er his bier.
Sweet mistress of each yielding heart!
Accept the verse to genius due;
No flattery can that bard impart
Who dares address his vows to you.
To Mrs. Robinson,
by James Boaden, Esq. Author of Fountainville Forest, The Secret Tribunal, The Fruits of Faction, a Poem, &c.
But Laura still shall dress the lay,
In all the lustre of the day,
With such sweet pensiveness complain,
That mortals are in love with pain;
And while the tender notes they scan,
Scarce see the writer is a man.
Laura! This little poem was occasioned by a most malignant and unwomanly attack on the authenticity of Mrs. Robinson’s productions, by a sister poet, whose name we forbear to mention. the lightnings of thy scorn
That pierced the timid breast of morn,
Borne through the vap’ry fields of air,
Struck, and roused me to a tear.
It fell, for who unmoved could be
When the muse sings, and sings by thee?6 A3v 6
What wretch, by every muse disclaim’d,
Can speak of verse when thou art named,
And not as liberal as the day,
Pour forth the pæan of thy lay?
Does it not fall like fleecy snow
Upon the bright’ning plain below?
Is it not mild as the blest morn,
That empties Amalthæa’s horn?
Sure in some niggard barren soil
Of vexing stubbornness and toil,
With scanty sustenance scarce fed,
This rude barbarian must be bred,
Whose soul its tribute can refuse,
To heavenly beauty and the muse!
But thou, pursue thy radiant way,
Cheer’d by thy own meridan ray;
Around thee let the beams be hurl’d,
That shed a lustre on our world.
Blest, that the flashes of thy fire,
That souls congenial best admire:
The beamy splendours that they give,
No fool can bear to see, and live.
To Mrs. Robinson,
by the Late Robert Merry, Esq. Member of the Academe della Crusca at Florence.
Blest daughter of gentleness! child of the muse!
Restrain the sweet lay, that so meltingly flows,
Though its breathings a transport diviner diffuse
Than the nightingale’s prayer for the kiss of the rose!
Yet, alas! there is anguish and danger to hear;—
The spells of the fatal enchanter I prove,
His magic dominion in thee I revere,
For I know thou art beauty, and feel thou art love.
I feel that thy charms can enrapture the view,
Thy thought so expansive, so richly refined,
Has power to disorder, has force to subdue—
And I die in adoring thy heart and thy mind.
Yet though the rich tribute of merit and fame
From taste and discernment thou ever must share,
Pale Folly and Rancour shall fix on thy name,
And Envy, distracted, be turned to Despair!
When the eagle majestically sails through the sky,
The owl and the raven are shock’d at the sight,
To the caverns of darkness in anguish they fly,
And curse with dismay the bold bird of the light.
Then, daughter of Gentleness, child of the Muse!
By Pity the wretches’ resentment control,
Let the dull and the dastard apsire to abuse,
Be it mine, thou sweet Minstrel! to give thee my soul.
To Mrs. Robinson,
by the Rev. William Tasker, Translator of the Classics, and Author of Aviragus, a tragedy,
When Sappho, from the lofty steep
O’erwhelmed with dire despair,
Plunged headlong in the foaming deep,
To end her hopeless care,
Venus, who saw the tuneful maid
Bend o’er the yawning wave,
Sent her own son, the nymph to aid—
He came too late to save!
But as her trembling spirit rose,
To seek its calm abode,
Venus in pity to her woes,
This gentle boon bestow’d:
No more the victim of despair
Shall Sappho’s spirit rove,
But on the earth, divinely fair,
Claim every gazer’s love!
And see! the wondrous nymph appears!
More tuneful, more divine;
She brings new music from the spheres,
And her blest lyre is thine!
To Mrs. Robinson,
by the Honourable John St. John, Author of Mary queen of Scots, an historical Tragedy, The Island of St. Marguerite, an Opera, &c. &c. &c.
Congenial spirits own congenial fires,
Where vivid fancy every thought inspires;
The taste of Reynolds we behold again
In every beauty of thy mournful strain.
No envy dims the lustre of thy lays,
No mean disguise obscures thy generous praise;
But as the tuneful line mellifluous flows,
Still, still pursue the lesson truth inspires,
Still tune thy harp, amidst exulting fires.
And when thy gentle form in death is laid,
And all thy wondrous attributes shall fade,
The grateful tributary song of woe,
Transcendent Sappho! round thy tomb shall flow.7 A4r 7
There Middleton’s Vide Mrs. Robinson’s elegy to Lady Middleton. meek shade shall hover near.
There Garrick’s Elegy to Garrick. sainted spirit shall appear,
There beauteous Linley Sonnet to Maria Linley. raise her angel tongue,
And Chatterton Monody to Chatterton. shall strike his lyre new strung!
And ’midst the mingling sounds thy name shall rise
The brightest planet in its native skies.
Impromptu This poem was given to The Honourable John St. John in Mrs. Robinson’s Memoirs, through a mistake of the copyist.
To Mrs. Robinson,
by His Grace the Late Duke of Leeds.
When sensibility and truth unite
To give thy thought with sweet poetic art,
’Tis genuine nature dictates what you write,
And every line’s a transcript of your heart!
’Tis grace, and feeling, polish’d by the muse,
To claim applause, and charm the wond’ring throng!
Then who the sacred laurel shall refuse
To her whom nature hails the queen of song.
To Mrs. Robinson,
by the Rev. Dr. Paul Colombine, of Norwich. On reading her Legitimate Sonnets.
What voice attuned to the soft Lesbian lute
Breathes in this rugged clime such accents clear?
What British Sappho warbles thro’ the year,
When every grove in Greece is lorn and mute?
The Muses and the Graces held dispute,
Which at her birth the blooming babe should rear
Their blended gifts in her so bright appear.
Who would not strive to press the tender suit,
To win the beauteous prize? where’er she moves,
Whene’er she speaks, she fascinates each eye
And winds around each heart; the tender loves,
With genius, taste, and varied harmony,
So breathe in her soft lay, hoar age approves,
While youth, fond youth, dissolves in ecstacy.
To Mrs. Robinson
by John Taylor, Esq.
Think not thy numbers Sappho’s woes declare,
And all her fervid passion’s fond excess,
Though thy rapt Muse’s glowing strains express
Of Love’s sad victims each romantic care,
Warning weak hearts to shun the roseate snare;
Though Phœbus deigns thy towering flights to bless,
And all his sons thy nobler powers confess
That o’er their highest aims sublimely dare.
No, Laura, thus pre-eminently taught,
Mellifluous warblings of the heavenly train,
With poesy’s delightful magic fraught,
Yet other notes reveal’d the Lesbian’s pain;
For, ah! had Sappho’s Muse such accents caught,
The faithless youth she had not lov’d in vain.
To Mrs. Robinson
by John Taylor, Esq.
Hail, pensive songstress! whose enchanting lay
So sweetly soothes the sadden’d soul to rest;
Pathetic sovereign of the tender breast!
Gentle as eve, and lustrous as the day.
Whether to plaintive grove thy fancy lead,
To hermit’s cave, or mountain’s trembling height,
The battle’s sanguine plain, the peaceful mead,
Still the fond Muse attends thy fervid flight.
Description yields her pencil to thy hand,
That pencil fraught with every varying dye,
A new creation springs at thy command,
And brighter beauties catch the ravish’d eye.
Ah! since o’er other hearts so potent known,
Why sadly sink the victim of thy own?
To Mrs Robinson
by John Taylor, Esq. On receiving her Poems.
Ah! fair, dearest Laura, my thanks would I pay,
For the treasures of genius thy friendship bestows;
How poor are all thanks to the worth of thy lay,
Where the rich ore of poesy lavishly flows.
To praise that rich ore too were equally vain;
What Muse, but thy own, can its value impart?
Yet, when grateful simplicity offers the strain,
’Tis the only reward that is dear to thy heart.
Then take, dearest Laura, the tribute sincere,
From a friend who admired thee in life’s early hour;
Who beheld in thy bloom, the sweet promise appear;
That time has matured to so lovely a flower.
1794-01-09Jan.January 9, 1794.
Bouquet for Mrs. Robinson,
by the Late Richard Tickel, Esq. Written a few months only previous to his death.
The rose is like thy glowing cheek,
When deck’d with tears of pity meek.
The lily, like thy spotless breast,
By love’s delicious pinions prest.
The blue bell like thy azure eyes,
Where Cupid’s wand’ring arrow lies!
The violet like the veins that twine
Along thy oval front divine!
Then, Laura, quick these emblems take,
And wear them for the giver’s sake.
To Mrs. Robinson,
by the same.
As LesbosSappho boasted first in fame!
So, peerless muse! thy verse adorns our shore;
So future bards shall celebrate thy name,
E’en till this little isle shall be no more!
Then mock the venal titles of a day,
Nor mourn of worldy gifts— a niggard store;
Thy genius shines with such a vivid ray,
As makes the gems of fortune dimly poor!
For when, in shrouded dust, the dull and the vain
Shall moulder, lost, forgotten, or unknown,
The pensive eye shall pour upon thy strain,
And thy illustrious talents proudly own!
Then smile, and know thyself supremely great,
And leave to little souls the pomp of little state!
To Mrs. Robinson,
by Robert Merry, Esq. Member of the Academe Della Crusca at Florence.
Sweet is the calmly cheerful hour,
When from mute midnight’s ebon tower
The moon escapes, and sportive hies
O’er the gay garden of the skies;
Where nature’s noblest flowers unfold
Their starry buds of burning gold;
The weary winds pant on the deep,
Or ’mongst the cradling billows sleep;
The streams their lucid lakes display;
The forests shake their sighs away;
Soft lustre every shade pursues,
That darkly drinks the falling dews;
While odour from her silken wings
An aromatic ether flings.
All is delight! but, ah! in vain
These varying glories bless the plain;
For see, the frenzied lover speeds
From the bright groves and glittering meads,
From gaudy hills, enchanted bowers,
And flowing waves and summer showers;
And seeks the lowly pensive cave,
Where he may groan, and weep, and rave;
And wrap his thoughts in sablest gloom,
And lure a transport from the tomb;
Where he may hope to rest at last,
When Passion’s rending pangs are past.
But e’en if then he chance to hear
The warbling of the bird sincere,9 B1r 9
Who loves her secret pangs to throw
In all the melodies of wo,
His heart relents, his trembling lid,
In pity’s lucid veil is hid;
Subjected agonies depart,
And softening sorrow soothes his heart.
So I, dear Laura! long supprest
The thorn of anguish in my breast;
Lost to each social solace gay,
And heedless of the blooms of May,
And heedless of the haughty sun,
When to his mad meridian run,
He lifts his red refulgent shield,
And fires the heaven’s eternal field.
Yes, I from each allurement fled
To where incumbent darkness spread;
Trod the black torrent’s gloomy side,
And held fierce converse with the tide.
Ah! then thy numbers seized my soul,
I found the thrilling sadness roll
In sweet similitue of joy,
That might my direst griefs destroy;
They stole upon my tranced sense,
As the fresh gales of morn dispense
New life to every shrub that fades
In solitude’s neglected shades.
Transcendent Laura! now receive
The tribute gratitude shall give;
Due to thy verse, whose sainted glow
Bade my lost soul renounce its wo:
Then frown not on my daring lay
That strives to paint the golden day;
To tell the lustre of the rose,
And thy resistless charms disclose;
But think, when in the grave’s cold sleep
My wretched eyes shall cease to weep,
And, troubled by the wintry breeze,
This sad, this burning heart shall freeze,
Then shall my lingering verse declare
How much I prized the good and fair!
What tenderness my soul conceived,
How deeply for thy sufferings grieved,
While future poets, future ages join,
To pour in Laura’s praise their melodies divine.
To Mrs. Robinson
This Sonnet appeared in the Oracle, 1798-10-1515th of October, 1798. Signed Il manti timido.
In dreary midnight’s lonely hour,
When wretched lovers only wake,
Ten thousand tears fast dropping pour
And bathe this bosom for thy sake.
When morning’s misty eye uncloses,
And gives the world another day,
For thee (more sweet than vernal roses)
Ten thousand sighs are breathed away.
But he whose scalding tears are flowing,
Whose aching breast heaves many a sigh,
Whose soul with fondest love is glowing,
Must hide his heart’s first wish, and die!
To Mrs. Robinson,
On Her Visiting Bath in Ill Health.
by James Boaden, Esq.
Maria from the busy circle flies,
To breathe the purer bliss of brighter skies,
Forsakes the scenes of her expanding fame,
To renovate the anguish of her frame;
Mentally perfect, her enlighten’d mind,
Superior to disease, springs unconfined;
Ranges the regions of the Muse’s reign,
Exempt from our inheritance of pain;
And, while keen pangs oppress her lovely face,
Wings the pure ether of poetic space;
Floats in the fragrance of the rubied rose,
And shuts its bosom up in rich repose!
So may these lines possess the placid power,
To soothe thy sufferings in some torturing hour.
To Mrs. Robinson
by the Late Robert Oliphant, Esq. Clare Hall, Cambridge.
Admired and lovely as the Paphian maid,
Bright beauty’s model, love’s bewitching form,
Ah! gentle Laura, thus in smiles array’d,
My flinty heart to tender hopes can warm.
Unpitied must he grieve who loves thee so?
Say, must he steal subdued from every eye?
Ah! if condemn’d to bear this load of wo,
Say but Despair, and bid thy victim die.
Some pity then will from thy lips depart,
Some comfort visit him who loves but thee,
Who feels thy beauty wind about his heart,
And struggling pants for death to set him free;
Yet if thy cruel heart refuse to save,
I only ask one tear to glisten on my grave.
Lines Addressed to Mrs. Robinson,
by the Late John Henderson, Esq. On reading a little Welsh ballad written by Mrs. Robinson, entitled Lewin and Gynniethe.
Thou pride of a nation where genius is bless’d,
Where the muse smiles, by fancy and eloquence dress’d,
Sweet minstrel, whose plaintive and elegant mind
Is the temple of wit and of pity combined.
Oh! ne’er let the pen sleep in silence whose lays
Claim the young budding laurel, a nation’s just praise;
Exert thy soft skill, and from Phœbus receive
That wealth which the god shall to excellence give.
A Stranger Minstrel.
by S.T. Coleridge, Esq. Written a few weeks before her death.
As late on Skiddaw’s mount I lay supine,
Midway th’ ascent, in that repose divine,
When the soul, centred in the heart’s recess,
Hath quaffed its fill of nature’s loveliness,
Yet still beside the fountain’s marge will stay,
And fain would thirst again, again to quaff;
Then when the tear, slow travelling on its way,
Fills up the wrinkles of a silent laugh,
In that sweet mood of sad and humorous thought,
A form within me rose, within me wrought
With such strong magic, that I cried aloud,
Thou ancient Skiddaw! by thy helm of cloud,
And by thy many-colour’d chasms deep,
And by their shadows, that for ever sleep
By yon small flaky mists that love to creep
Along the edges of those spots of light,
Those sunny islands on thy smooth green height,
And, by yon shepherds with their sheep,
And dogs, and boys, a gladsome crowd,
That rush e’en now with clamour loud
Sudden from forth thy topmost cloud,
And by this laugh, and by this tear,
I would, old Skiddaw, she were here.
A lady of sweet song is she,
Her soft blue eye was made for thee!
O! ancient Skiddaw, by this tear,
I would, I would, that she were here!
Then ancient Skiddaw, stern and proud,
In sullen majesty replying,
Thus spake from out his helm of cloud,
(His voice was like an echo dying!)
She dwells belike in scenes more fair
And scorns a mount so bleak and bare.
I only sigh’d when this I heard,
Such mournful thoughts within me stirr’d,
That all my heart was faint and weak,
So sorely was I troubled!
No laughter wrinkled on my cheek,
But, oh! the tears were doubled!
But ancient Skiddaw green and high,
Heard, and understood my sigh;
And now, in tones less stern and rude,
As if he wish’d to end the feud,
Spake he, the proud response renewing:
(His voice was like a monarch wooing.)
Nay, but thou dost not know her might,
The pinions of her soul, how strong!
But many a stranger in my height
Hath sung to me her magic song,
Sending forth his ecstacy
In her divinest melody,
And hence I know, her soul is free,
She is, where’er she wills to be,
Unfetter’d by mortality!
Now, to the haunted beach can fly,
Beside the threshold scourged with waves,
Now where the maniac wildly raves,
Pale moon, thou spectre of the sky!
No wind that hurries o’er my height
Can travel with so swift a flight.
I too, methinks, might merit
The presence of her spirit!
To me too might belong
The honour of her song and witching melody!
Which most resembles me.
Soft, various, and sublime,
Exempt from wrongs of time!
Thus spake the mighty mount! and I
Made answer, with a deep drawn sigh,
Thou ancient Skiddaw! by this tear,
I would, I would, that she were here!
On Mrs. Robinson
Being present at the performance of the Merchant of Venice at Covent Garden.
by the Late John Henderson, Esq.
Whilst Macklin Shakspeare’s Shylock holds to view,
See beauteous Robinson out-act the Jew;11 B2r 11
One pound of flesh his malice could assuage,
Her Christian charms severer bonds engage;
When love-inspiring eyes their darts dispense,
Who meets the glance must expiate th’ offence;
In vain applause would pay the debt in part,
She claims the sacrifice of every heart.
1780-11-06November 6th, 1780.
To Mrs. Robinson
by the Reverend B. Beresford.
Full many a conflict hath my bosom proved,
To chase thy image from its dwelling there;
Full many a sorrow, many a tender care,
For thy dear sake I’ve suffer’d, best beloved;
For, since thy beauties did my heart invade,
Oft have I strove my liberty to gain;
Oft, in soft solace to my am’rous pain,
For balm, to heal the wounds which love has made,
I court the muses; to assuage my grief
Court sage philosophy; for vain relief,
In quest of joy, I rove from fair to fair;
Vain other charms, and vain philosophy!
My vagrant heart must still return to thee,
And one dear smile is worth an age of care!
Lines Addressed to Mrs. Robinson.
Written by the Author of Hartford Bridge, &c. &c. in 17801780. It is a singular fact, that this Author was unknown to Mrs. Robinson for some years after the above elegant lines were written.
The seaman, from winds and the fury of seas,
Each harbour will bless where he anchors at ease;
Yet with fonder regard will he eye the wish’d strand
Where his vessel is destined and cargo must land.
—So I, dear Maria, on life’s ocean tost,
When I cannot keep sea, veer about for the coast,
And praise every harbour where shelter is found;
But thou art the port where my wishes are bound.
Those wishes accept, and abhorr’d may I be,
If I e’er fram’d a wish that meant evil to thee!
While, restless, from region to region I roam,
My heart, still untravell’d, seeks thee for its home.
Oh! yield it abode! and, believe me, my fair,
Of this breast thou art tenant, none else harbours there;
There, sweet star of beauty, thy dear image dwells,
Wings the fond pulse of passion, the sigh ever swells,
Gives a tide to the current that bathes the warm heart,
Till, grown to the soul, it becomes e’en a part!
Then yield it abode. Bow, ye monks, and be blest,
The Heaven I crave is a place in her breast;
And say, breathes a monk who’d in secret reprove
A devotion so true to the altar of love?
Beshrew the cold being whom, rigid and fell,
Nature forms a recluse and devotes to a cell.
Let him melt o’er his relics, at beauty congeal,
And saints praise his apathy, idiots his zeal
With love in my heart, and with thee in my eye,
What zeal can divinity equal supply?
To The Memory of Mrs. Robinson.
by Dr. Wolcot.
Farewell to the nymph of my heart,
Farewell to the cottage and vine,
From thy scenes with a tear I depart,
Where pleasure so often was mine.
Rememberance shall dwell on thy smile,
Shall dwell on thy lute and thy song,
Which often my hours to beguile
Have echo’d the valleys among.
Once more the fair scene let me view,
The cottage, the valley, and grove—
Dear valleys, for ever adieu!
Adieu to the daughter of love!
The Reader is requested to observe, that the Poetry is newly arranged, and that those pieces which composed the first publication are distributed through this volume, according to the different classes of Poetry.
Petrarch to Laura.
Supposed to have been written during his retirement at Vaucluse, a short time before his death.
Ye sylvan haunts, ye close embowering shades,
That hang your dark brows o’er the silent glades;
Ye mountains, black’ning wide the thorny vale;
Ye lucid lakes, that trembling meet the gale;
Ye gloomy avenues of dumb despair,
Ye last asylums of long-cherish’d care;
Eternal solitudes! where Love retires
To bathe his wounds, and quench his fatal fires;
Where frantic, lost, forlorn, and sad, I go.
A wandering pilgrim in a maze of wo;
Oh! to your deepest caverns let me fly,
Breathe a fond prayer, and ’midst your horrors die.
Ye sparry grots, ye once adored retreats,
Ye tinkling rills, ye consecrated seats,
Whose velvet sod, embroider’d o’er with flowers,
On the charm’d sense celestial odour pours;
Ye roseate banks o’erhung with waving trees,
That moan responsive to the murmuring breeze,
How cold, how desolate your shade appears,
A path of misery, through a vale of tears!
Now pale Despair hangs brooding o’er your bowers,
Absorbs your sweets, and withers all your flowers;
Strips the thick foliage from your verdant shades,
And spreads eternal darkness o’er your glades;
No more for me your sunny banks shall pour
In purple tides ripe Autumn’s luscious store;
No more for me your lustrous tints shall glow,
Your forests wave, your silvery torrents flow;
Yet ’midst your heaven my wounded heart shall crave
One narrow cell, my solace and my grave.
Subdued, o’erwhelm’d, a withering shade I stray,
Shrink from myself, and shudder at the day:
No more fond Hope sustains my sickening soul,
Resistless passion spurns her meek control;
Corroding anguish o’er each prospect lowers,
Bends my weak frame, my lusty youth devours;
Clings to my breast where every fibre bleeds,
And on its vital throne insatiate feeds.
Where shall I fly? what path untrod explore,
Where love can wound, and memory live no more;
Where, Laura, shall I turn, what balsam find
To soothe the throbbings of my feverish mind?
What blest relief can life’s dull round impart,
What rapture vivify the hopeless heart?
What pitying star its beamy stream dispense,
To light my soul, and cheer my vagrant sense;
To gild the gloom of desolating woes,
And lead my wandering spirit to repose?
When wild with passion, maddening with remorse,
From Avignon’s loved walls I bent my course;
While, roll’d in crimson clouds, the orb of day
O’er seas of ether shed his parting ray,
As to his western goal he journey’d forth,
Leaving pale twilight weeping o’er the earth,
Oft did I pause, oft turn my longing eyes
To the tall spire that pierced the evening skies;
All was serene! save when the vespers’ sound
Struck on my pensive heart with knell profound;
While Fancy bade my frantic mind explore
Those scenes of holy joy I taste no more;
Unsullied altars, consecrated shrines,
Where curling incense round each taper twines;
Where, through long aisles, seraphic Pæans ring,
And meek-eyed virgins choral anthems sing!
Where, like a being of celestial mould,
My Laura’s beauteous form I dared behold! Petrarch first beheld Laura at matins on the 1327-04-06sixth day of April, 1327, in the church of St. Clair at Avignon. See Life of Petrarch.
While at the shrine her orisons she pour’d
Pure as the spirits of the saint adored!14 B3v 14
Oft as the cross her snowy fingers press’d,
Her auburn tresses veil’d her tranquil breast!
A shade transparent deck’d her brow divine,
And bade her eyes with temper’d lustre shine!
As low she bow’d before the throne of grace,
An angel-softness harmonized her face;
A smile benign reveal’d her tranquil soul,
While from her lips devotion’s fervour stole;
Each conscious triumph to her share was given,
Her form was beauty, and her mind was heaven.
Fix’d to the earth, with trembling zeal I gazed.
Each passion madden’d, and each sense amazed!
Involuntary sighs too soon confess’d
The struggling tumults labouring in my breast;
No thought sublime on my rapt feelings hung,
No sacred eloquence unchain’d my tongue;
All, all was love! while through my burning brain
Rush’d a fierce torrent of convulsive pain;
From my dim eyes celestial radiance stole,
While howling demons grasp’d my sinking soul,
Guilt’s writhing scorpions, twining round my heart,
Enflamed each wound and heightened every smart;
In vain I sought Religion’s calm domain,
And at her footstool pour’d my hopeless pain;
The priestess, frowning on my impious prayer,
Check’d the bold suit, and hurl’d me to despair.
Ah, Laura! canst thou seal the dread decree
That tears thy Petrarch from his God and thee!
That gives his mental hopes, his fond desires
To conscious anguish and consuming fires?
Canst thou with unrelenting vengeance urge
A trembling soul to fate’s extremest verge;
And, while subdued it supplicates relief,
Dash the doom’d sufferer to eternal grief?
Why, soft enchantress, spread the fatal snare
That lures thy struggling victim to despair?
Why with meek smiles my wandering sense reclaim?
Why feed with pitying looks my hopeless flame? Laura wished to be beloved by Petrarch, but with such refinement, that he should never speak of his love: whenever he attempted the most distant expression of this kind, she treated him with excessive rigour; but when she saw him in despair, his countenance languishing, and his spirits drooping, she then re-animated him by some trifling kindness. —See Life of Petrarch, vol. i. p. 6.
Ah! rather come in awful lustre drest,
Calm my touch’d sense, and lull the fiends to rest;
Teach me each rebel passion to disown,
Chill my hot pulse, and freeze my heart to stone:
With contrite sighs devotion’s flame illume;
With holy tear-drops gem this mental gloom:
Come in transcendent Virtue’s sacred form,
Stem the fierce torrent, and appease the storm;
Grasp the dire bolt suspended o’er my head,
And on my quivering heart-strings patience shed;
Check with thy counsels every madd’ning flight,
Direct me trembling to the paths of light;
Bow my parch’d lip to kiss the chast’ning rod,
And lead me, blushing, to the throne of God!
Where’er I fly, where’er my frenzy roves,
To pine-clad summits of low-bending groves,
Still on my shatter’d brain thy form appears,
Steals to my heart, and glistens through my tears:
Thy voice I hear in every whispering gale,
Thy fragrant breath from citron buds inhale;
I mark the rose in native sweetness drest,
I snatch the blushing emblem to my breast;
Thy burnish’d ringlets float across my sight,
In the last glowing stream of orient light;
And as the star of morn unfolds its fire,
Stolen from the glances of its burning sire,
Thy beaming eyes emit translucent rays,
The lustrous heralds of thy soul’s rich blaze!
A matron’s purity thy smiles impart,
And Truth’s mild splendours brighten in thy heart;
Ah! wherefore, Petrarch, wherefore rashly dare
The dangerous magic of a form so fair?
Why was to thee the fatal moment given
Which bade an angel draw thy soul from heaven?
Yet ere thy power supreme my soul confess’d,
Ere fainting Virtue fled my burning breast;
While in its veins one lingering spark remain’d,
One heavenly spark by trembling hope sustain’d;
Vaucluse, thy sylvan solitudes I chose
To cure my passion, or conceal my woes
And oft beneath thy melancholy shade
Reluctant, pensive, half-resolved I stray’d;
And trembling, faultering, frequent sighs I pour’d
Before the shrine of Him but half adored;
While as the sacred Virgin’s form I view’d
A brighter idol every sense subdued!
While holy vows were lost in warm desires
Love dropp’d a tear that quench’d religion’s fires
Till through my eyes my heart’s true fervour shone,
And my fond soul, dear saint, was all thy own!
Now o’er some craggy peak when frowning night
Grasps the last lingering tint of ruby light;
When o’er the vast expanse I seek in vain
The tawny vineyard and the yellow plain;15 B4r 15
Heedless I wander, while the tempest flies,
Brave the cold winds, nor heed the threat’ning skies—
Where from the wild romantic cliffs around
The headlong waters fall with hollow sound;
And stealing through the winding vale below,
Unseen, through mid-day glooms incessant flow;
While sullen echo’s aery tongue betrays
Where round her seat each drawling channel strays;
While the lone owl, her lurid haunts among,
To the pale moon repeats her nightly song;
While rocks acute my feverish limbs sustain,
Chill’d by the freezing blast and drizzling rain;
While the keen winds in gusts impetuous yell,
O’er the bleak cliff, that guards the shadowy dell,
When the loud thunder fills the troubled air,
And forests wither by the lightning’s glare;
Maddening I see thy glittering phantom rise,
Spring from the steep, and hover ’midst the skies.
I rave, I shriek, from point to point I start,
While hell’s worst torments riot in my heart;
I court the fiends my rending pangs to share,
And prove the wildest torments of despair.
When first to these calm shades I bent my way,
Led by the light of intellectual ray,
I mark’d repose her gentlest balm diffuse,
To soothe the hapless hermit of Vaucluse!
Where, ’midst the foliage of my laurel Petrarch dedicated this tree to his beloved Laura. bowers,
The Muse had sprinkled never-fading flowers;
Where mild Philosophy unveil’d her shrine,
Each care to solace, and each wish refine;
Whole years my studious eye intent explored
The treasured gems by hoary wisdom stored!
Each truth sublime by ancient sages taught,
Graced with the glossy charm of polish’d thought;
And oft the sickly taper’s feeble rays
Shrunk from the splendours of the solar blaze,
While o’er the classic page absorb’d I hung,
Where Homer breathed, or tuneful Virgil sung!
When all was silence, all was peace, my breast
No pang endured, no wayward thought confess’d!
Swiftly thy beauty gleam’d across my sight,
Dimm’d the bright flame of transitory light,
Spurn’d each weak barrier trembling Reason gave,
And plunged me vanquish’d in affliction’s wave.
Yet, yet once more, my aching bosom sought
A lenient pause from agonizing thought;
I left these bowers o’er foreign realms to stray,
Love lit his torch to guide my thorny way!
Mournful I journey’d o’er Italia’s lands,
And moisten’d with my tears Sicilian sands;
Where the proud Danube’s rushing waters roll,
I pour’d the maddening anguish of my soul.
O’er Alpine hills, in solitary wo,
I wept and wander’d ’midst eternal snow.
Oft did I mark the Rhone’s impetuous stream
By the wan lustre of the moon-light beam;
And as the foamy current curl’d along,
Heard the rocks echo with my frantic song!
Where Rome’s majestic ruins tottering stand
The hourly victims of Time’s mouldering hand,
Whole nights I’ve trode the tesselated stone,
While scarce a glimmering star in pity shone;
Then starting ’midst th’ impenetrable gloom,
Grasp’d the cold fragment of some martyr’s tomb
And tore the crawling ivy from its bed,
To weave a pillow for my burning head:
Then raised my eyes to God in fervent prayer,
To end my being and my sorrows there.
For O! eternal martyrdom I prove,
Heaven’s doom’d apostate—my fell tyrant, love!
When Rome her proud applause exulting gave,
And round my car her laurels stoop’d to wave!
When borne triumphant o’er the sacred ground,
By holy hands with flowery chaplets crown’d!
While clanking cymbals echo’d through the sky,
And rosy infants bade the censers Small vases suspended by silver or gold chains, and filled with burning incense: they are generally carried by children at religious ceremonies in Catholic countries. fly!
When nations throng’d thy poet’s fame to share,
And shouts of rapture fill’d the perfumed air!
No flush’d delight from adulation caught,
No selfish joy with false ambition fraught
Could draw my prostrate soul from love and thee,
Still at thy shrine I bent the trembling knee!
For who but thee, transcendent angel! taught
The flame to live, which kindled every thought?
For who, like thee, could heavenly themes inspire,
Or touch the sensate mind with hallow’d fire,
Mingling with mortal dust the spark divine,
That bade my verse with deathless glories shine.
In yon cool grot emboss’d with shells and flowers,
Where the hot stream of noon-day light scarce pours;
Where silence reigns, save when the shallow rill
With gurgling sound steals o’er the mossy sill;
While ’midst the shadows of the twilight gleam,
I tuned my lyre—thy fatal charms my theme;
O’er my chill’d form sleep’s sable curtain hung,
Veil’d my sad eyes, and chain’d my faultering tongue.16 B4v 16
Each sense absorb’d, yet my fond soul was free,
Its thoughts, its faculties, all dwelt with thee;
Celestial visions hover’d o’er my breast,
And rose-lip’d angels soothed my pangs to rest;
Their silver harps hung pendent on the sky,
Bound with unfading wreaths of emerald die,
While the wing’d cloisters inscribed thy name
On heaven’s blue tablet with ethereal flame.
In the bland portal of the rosy East
Aurora sat in golden mantle drest;
The silent air, in crystal fetters bound,
Slept on the folded clouds that glisten’d round;
When to my ravish’d sight thy form was shown,
The guardian spirit of the sphery throne!
A crown of orient rays thy brow compress’d,
A zone of myrtle clasp’d thy snowy breast!
The tear of pity trembled in thine eye
Like a bright planet in the evening sky!
The blush of morning mantled o’er thy cheek,
When thus thy voice seraphic seem’d to speak:
Freed from the goading chain of mortal care,
I rove a bless’d inhabitant of air;
Yet, in delicious ecstacy I wait,
Till my loved Petrarch shall partake my fate:
The soul, once purified, awaits on those
Who toil amidst a wilderness of woes:
It guards the partners of its mortal hours,
When anguish threatens, or despair devours,
Shields the frail bosom of a cherub’s wing,
And robs the tyrant, Death, of every sting.
But see the ruddy dawn’s advancing blaze
Tears my fond shadow from thy eager gaze;
Yet oh! if e’er thy Laura’s virtue charm’d,
Her smile enraptured, or her beauty warm’d,
Let Hope sustain thy sickening soul to prove
That heaven has joy, beyond the joys of love.
She smiled and vanish’d, while my frantic mind
Awoke to all the griefs it left behind!
Now driven from each vain gleam of fond delight,
My sun of glory saddens into night;
My once proud laurels doom’d, alas! to fade
On the pale forehead of a lingering shade.
I count my midnight beads, and kneeling, rave,
On the damp sod, my pallet and my grave.
Toiling through tedious years, unseen, unblest,
Eternal thorns corroding in my breast;
I fast, I pray, and yet no comfort find;
Heaven on my lips, but love within my mind!
For thee, oh Laura! restless sorrow pours,
Sighs that still burn, and tears that fall in showers;
The morning breaks; my feverish heart still mourns,
Till twilight, pensive hour, again returns;
When night’s thick curtain o’er the scene unfurl’d
Throws rest and silence o’er the breathing world;
I feel thee still, within my heated brain;
I weep, I sigh, I supplicate in vain!
Or, if by chance one pitying ray of rest
Warms the sad inmate of my throbbing breast,
’Tis but a gleam of intellectual light
That feebly glances o’er my mental sight,
And, for a moment, dissipates the gloom,
To point my weary footsteps to the tomb.
Ainsi Va le Monde.
Inscribed to a Friend.
Written at the beginning of the French Revolution.
O thou, to whom superior worth’s allied,
Thy country’s honour—and the Muses’ pride;
Whose pen gives polish to the varying line
That blends instruction with the song divine;
Whose fancy, glancing o’er the hostile plain,
Plants a fond trophy o’er the mighty slain; See an Elegy written on the plains of Fontenoy by Robert Merry, Esq.
Or to the daisied lawn directs its way,
Blithe as the songstress of returning day;
Who deign’d to rove where twinkling glow worms lead
The tiny legions o’er the glittering mead;
Whose liquid notes in sweet meanderings flow,
Mild as the murmurs of the Bird of Wo;
Who gave Sympathy its softest power,
The charm to wing affliction’s sable hour;
Who in Italia’s groves, with thrilling song,
Call’d mute attention from the minstrel throng;
Gave proud distinction to the poet’s name,
And claim’d, by modest worth, the wreath of fame—
Accept the verse thy magic harp inspires,
Nor scorn the muse that kindles at its fires.
O, justly gifted with the sacred lyre,
Whose sounds can more than mortal thoughts inspire,
Whether its strings heroic measures move,
Or lyric numbers charm the soul to love;
Whether thy fancy pours the varying verse
In bowers of bliss, or o’er the plumed hearse;
Whether of patriot zeal, or pastoral sports,
The peace of hamlets, or the pride of courts:
Still Nature glows in every classic line—
Still genius dictates—still the verse is thine.
Too long the Muse, in ancient garb array’d,
Has pined neglected in oblivion’s shade;17 C1r 17
Driven from the sun-shine of poetic fame,
Stripp’d of each charm, she scarcely boasts a name:
Her voice no more can please the vapid throng;
No more loud Pæans consecrate her song,
Cold, faint, and sullen, to the grove she flies,
A faded garland veils her radiant eyes:
A withering laurel on her breast she wears,
Fann’d by her sighs, and spangled with her tears:
From her each fond associate early fled,
She mourn’d a Milton lost, a Shakspeare dead:
Her eye beheld a Chatterton oppress’d,
A famish’d Otway—ravish’d from her breast;
Now in their place a fluttering form appears,
Mocks her fall’n power, and triumphs in her tears:
A flippant, senseless, aery thing, whose eye
Glares wanton mirth, and low-soul’d ribaldry.
While motley mummery holds her tinsel reign,
Shakspeare might write, and Garrick act in vain:
True wit recedes, when blushing reason views
This spurious offspring of the banish’d Muse.
The task be thine to check the daring hand
That leads fantastic folly o’er the land;
The task be thine with witching spells to bind
The feathery shadows of the fickle mind;
To strew with deathless flowers the dreary waste;
To pluck the weeds of vitiated taste;
To cheer with smiles the Muse’s glorious toil,
And plant perfection on her native soil:
The Arts, that through dark centuries have pined,
Toil’d without fame, in sordid chains confined,
Burst into light with renovated fire,
Bid envy shrink, and ignorance expire.
No more prim Kneller’s simpering beauties vie,
Or Lely’s genius droops with languid eye:
No more preposterous figures pain the view,
Aliens to Nature, yet to fancy true,
The wild chimeras of capricious thought,
Deform’d in fashion, and with errors fraught:
The Gothic phantoms sickening fade away,
And native genius rushes into day.
Reynolds, ’twas thine with magic skill to trace
The perfect semblance of exterior grace;
Thy hand, by Nature guided, marks the line
That stamps perfection on the form divine.
’Tis thine to tint the lip with rosy die,
To paint the softness of the melting eye;
With auburn curls luxuriantly display’d,
The ivory shoulder’s polish’d fall to shade;
To deck the well-turn’d arm with matchless grace,
To mark the dimpled smile on Beauty’s face:
The task is thine, with cunning hand to throw
The veil transparent on the breast of snow:
The statesman’s thought, the infant’s cherub mien,
The poet’s fire, the matron’s eye serene,
Alike with animated lustre shine
Beneath thy polish’d pencil’s touch divine.
As Britain’s genius glories in thy art,
Adores thy virtues, and reveres thy heart,
Nations unborn shall celebrate thy name,
And waft thy memory on the wings of Fame.
Oft when the mind, with sickening pangs oppress’d,
Flies to the Muse, and courts the balm of rest,
When Reason, sated with life’s weary woes,
Turns to itself—and finds a blest repose,
A generous pride that scorns each petty art,
That feels no envy rankling in the heart,
No mean deceit that wings its shaft at fame,
Or gives to pamper’d vice a pompous name;
Then, calm reflection shuns the sordid crowd,
The senseless chaos of the little proud,
Then, indignation, stealing through the breast,
Spurns the pert tribe in flimsy greatness drest;
Who, to their native nothingness consign’d,
Sink in contempt—nor leave a trace behind.
Then Fancy paints, in visionary gloom,
The sainted shadows of the laurel’d tomb.
The star of virtue glistening on each breast,
Divine insignia of the spirit blest!
Then Milton smiles serene, a beauteous shade,
In worth august—in lustrous fires array’d:
Immortal Shakspeare gleams across the sight,
Robed in ethereal vest of radiant light.
Wing’d ages picture to the dazzled view
Each mark’d perfection—of the sacred few,
Pope, Dryden, Spenser, all that fame shall raise,
From Chaucer’s gloom—till these enlighten ’d days:
Then emulation kindles fancy’s fire,
The glorious throng poetic flights inspire
Each sensate bosom feels the god-like flame,
The cherish’d harbinger of future fame.
Yet timid genius, oft in conscious ease,
Steals from the world, content the few to please:
Obscured in shades, the modest muse retires,
While sparkling vapours emulate her fires.
The proud enthusiast shuns promiscuous praise,
The idiot’s smile condemns the poet’s lays.
Perfection wisely courts the liberal few,
The voice of kindred genius must be true.
But empty witlings sate the public eye
With puny jest and low buffoonery,
The buzzing hornets swarm about the great,
The poor appendages of pamper’d state;
The trifling, fluttering insects of a day
Flit near the sun, and glitter in its ray;
Whose subtle fires with charms magnetic burn,
Where every abject fool may have his turn.C 18 C1v 18
Lull’d in the lap of indolence, they boast
Who best can fawn—and who can flatter most;
Who with obsequious smiles mislead the mind,
And prove most mischievous, by seeming kind;
Pour on the ear soft adulation’s sound,
And give to infamy the fame they wound;
While with a cunning arrogance they blend
Sound without sense—and wit that stabs a friend;
Slanders oblique—that check ambition’s toil,
The poisonous weeds, that mark the barren soil.
So the sweet blossoms of salubrious spring
Through the lone wood their spicy odours fling;
Shrink from the sun, and bow their beauteous heads
To scatter incense o’er their native beds,
While coarser flowers expand with gaudy ray,
Brave the rude wind, and mock the burning day.
Ah! gentle muse, from trivial follies turn,
Where patriot souls with god-like passions burn;
So shall thy song to glorious themes aspire,
Rapt in the wonders of the poet’s lyre.
Through all the scenes of nature’s varying plan,
Celestial Freedom warms the breast of man;
Led by her daring hand, what power can bind
The boundless efforts of the labouring mind.
The god-like fervour, thrilling through the heart,
Gives new creation to each vital part;
Throbs rapture through each palpitating vein,
Wings the wild thought, and warms the fertile brain.
To her the noblest attributes of Heaven,
Ambition, valour, eloquence, are given.
She binds the soldier’s brow with wreaths sublime,
From her, expanding reason learns to climb,
To her the sounds of melody belong,
She wakes the raptures of the poet’s song;
’Tis god-like Freedom bids each passion live,
That truth may boast, or patriot virtue give.
From her, the arts enlighten’d splendours own,
She guides the peasant—she adorns the throne;
To mild philanthropy extends her hand,
Gives truth pre-eminence, and worth command;
Her eye directs the path that leads to fame,
Lights Valour’s torch, and trims the glorious flame;
She scatters joy o’er nature’s endless scope,
Gives strength to reason—ecstacy to hope;
Tempers each pang humanity can feel,
And binds presumptuous power with nerves of steel;
Strangles each tyrant phantom in its birth,
And knows no title but—superior worth.
Enlighten’d Gallia! what were all your toys,
Your dazzling splendours—your voluptuous joys?
What were your glittering villas—lofty tow’rs,
Your perfumed chambers, and your painted bowers?
Did not insidious Art those gifts bestow,
To cheat the prying eye—with tinsel show?
Yes; luxury diffused her spells to bind
The deep researches of the restless mind;
To lull the active soul with witching wiles,
To hide pale Slavery in a mask of smiles;
The towering wings of reason to restrain,
And lead the victim in a flowery chain.
When warlike Louis, Louis XIV. arrogant and vain,
Whom worth could never hold, or fear restrain,
The soul’s last refuge in repentance sought,
The artful Maintenon absolved each fault;
She who had led his worldly steps astray
Now smooth’d his passage to the realms of day!
O, monstrous hypocrite!—who vainly strove
By pious fraud to win a people’s love;
Whose coffers groan’d with reliques from the proud,
The pompous offsprings of the venal crowd,
And yet—so sacred was the matron’s fame,
Nor truth, nor virtue, dared assail her name;
None could approach but with obsequious breath,
To speak was treason—and to murmur, death.
In meek and humble garb, she veil’d command,
While helpless millions shrunk beneath her hand.
And when ambition’s idle dream was o’er,
And art could blind, and beauty charm no more;
She, whose luxurious bosom spurn’d restraint,
Who lived the slave of passion—died a saint! Madame de Maintenon died a perfect devotee at the convent of St. Cyr.
What were the feelings of the hapless throng,
By threats insulted, and oppress’d with wrong?
While grasping avarice, with skill profound,
Spread her fell snares, and dealt destruction round;
Each rising sun some new infringement saw,
While pride was consequence—and power was law;
A people’s sufferings hoped redress in vain.
Subjection curb’d the tongue that dared complain.
Imputed guilt each virtuous victim led
Where all the fiends their direst mischiefs spread;
Where, through long ages past, with watchful care,
Thy tyrants, Gallia, nursed the witch Despair.19 C2r 19
Where in her black Bastile the harpy fed
On the warm crimson drops her fangs had shed;
Where recreant malice mock’d the sufferer’s sigh,
While regal lightnings darted from her eye.—
Where deep mysterious whispers murmur’d round,
And death stalk’d sullen o’er the treacherous ground.
O day—transcendent on the page of Fame!
When from her heaven insulted Freedom came;
Glancing o’er earth’s wide space, her beaming eye
Mark’d the dread scene of impious slavery;
Warm’d by her breath, the vanquish’d, trembling race,
Wake from the torpid slumber of disgrace;
Roused by oppression, Man his birth-right claims,
O’er the proud battlements red vengeance flames;
Exulting thunders rend the turbid skies;—
In sulphurous clouds the gorgeous ruin lies!
The angel Pity now each cave explores,
Braves the chill damps, and fells the ponderous doors,
Tears from the flinty walls the clanking chains,
Where many a dreadful tale of wo remains,
Where many a sad memorial marks the hour,
That gave the rights of man to ravenous power,
Now, snatch’d from death, the wondering wretch shall prove
The rapturous energies of social love;
Whose limbs each faculty denied—whose sight
Had long resign’d all intercourse with light;
Whose wasted form the humid earth received,
Who, numb’d with anguish—scarcely felt he lived;
Who, when the midnight bell assail’d his ears,
From feverish slumbers woke—to shed new tears:
While slow-consuming grief each sense enthrall’d,
Till Hope expired, and Valour shrunk—appall’d:
Where veil’d suspicion lurk’d in shrewd disguise,
While eager vengeance oped her thousand eyes;
While the hired slave, the fiend of wrath, design’d
To lash, with scorpion-scourges, human-kind—
Dragg’d with ingenious pangs the tardy hour,
To feed the rancour of insatiate Power.
Blest be the favour’d delegates of Heaven,
To whose illustrious souls the task was given
To wrench the bolts of tyranny—and dare
The petrifying confines of despair;
With heaven’s own breeze to cheer the gasping breath,
And spread broad sun-shine in the caves of death.
What is the charm that bids mankind disdain
The tyrant’s mandate, and th’oppressor’s chain;
What bids exulting liberty impart
Ecstatic raptures to the human heart;
Calls forth each hidden spark of glorious fire,
Bids untaught minds to valiant feats aspire;
What gives to freedom its supreme delight?
’Tis emulation, instinct, nature, right!
When this revolving orb’s first course began,
Heaven stamp’d divine pre-eminence on man;
To him it gave the intellectual mind,
Persuasive eloquence and truth refined;
Humanity to harmonize his sway,
And calm religion to direct his way;
Courage to tempt ambition’s lofty flight,
And conscience to illume his erring sight.
Who shall the natural rights of man deride,
When freedom spreads her fostering banners wide?
Who shall contemn the heaven-taught zeal that throws
The balm of comfort on a nation’s woes?
That tears the veil from superstition’s eye,
Bids despots tremble, and oppression die?
Wrests hidden treasure from the sordid hand,
And flings profusion o’er a famish’d land?—
Nor yet, to Gallia are her smiles confined,
She opes her radiant gates to all mankind;
Sure on the peopled earth there cannot be
A foe to liberty—that dares be free?
Who that has tasted bliss will e’er deny
The magic power of thrilling ecstacy?
Who that has breathed health’s vivifying breeze,
Would tempt the dire contagion of disease?
Or, prodigal of joy, his birth-right give
In shackled slavery—a wretch to live?
Yet let ambition hold a temperate sway,
When virtue rules—’tis rapture to obey;
Man can but reign his transitory hour,
And love may bind—when fear has lost its power.
Proud may he be who nobly acts his part,
Who boasts the empire of each subject’s heart,
Whose worth exulting millions shall approve,
Whose richest treasure is—a nation’s love.
Inscribed to John Taylor, Esq. Oculist to His Majesty.
O thou! all wonderful, all glorious power
That through the soul diffusest light sublime,
And bidst it see the omnipotence of God!
O sight! to man the vivifying lamp,
That, darting through the intellectual maze,
Giv’st to each rising thought the living ray!
As the Promethean touch awoke that source
Whose glory warms the planetary world,20 C2v 20
So the Supreme illumed the visual orb,
To mark his works, and wonder at his power!
Transcendent gift! but for thy light divine,
Oh! what a chaos were the mind of man!
Composed of atoms, exquisitely fine,
Each moving in a dark obstructed sphere,
Forlorn, and undelighted! for to him
Whose eye ne’er drank the widely beaming ray,
What are the wonders of the starry worlds;
Creation’s fair domain, its gems, its hues,
And all its bright diversity of charms?
What are his faculties, his passions, thoughts?
He labours through a wilderness obscure,
Each other sense awaken’d, wanting still
That sense divine, which gives to each its charm;
The earth, to him, a solitary speck,
For ever mournful, and for ever drear!
Oblivion horrible! to know no change;
Nor light from darkness! nor the human form,
The image of perfection infinite!
To fashion various phantoms of the brain,
By each amused, and yet by each deceived!
To roll the aching eye, alas! in vain,
And still to find a melancholy blank
Of years, and months, and days and lingering hours,
All dark alike, eternally obscure!
To such a wretch! whose brightest sense of bliss
Is but the shadow of a waking dream,
The sleep of death, with all its starting fears,
Must teem with prospects of Elysium!
For what is sleep, but temporary death;
Sealing up all the windows of the soul,
And binding every thought in torpid chains?
Yet, only for a time the spell controls,
And soothing visions gild the transient gloom;
For every active faculty of mind
Springs from the numbing apathy of sleep
With renovated lustre and delight!
But he who knows one unenlighten’d void,
One dreary night, unbless’d with cheerful dreams,
Lives in the midst of death; and, when he sleeps,
Feeds a perpetual solitude of wo,
Without one ray to dissipate its gloom.
Then what to him avails the varying year,
The orient morn, or evening’s purple shade,
That robes creation in a garb of rest?
What all the beauties of the vast expanse,
The tint cerulean, or the vaulted arch
Of heaven’s eternal dome! Can fancy paint,
With all the vivid magic of her power,
The spangling legions of the sphery plains;
The gaudy-vested summer’s saffron glow,
When proudly gilded by its parent sun,
As through the flaming heavens his dazzling car,
Burnish’d with sparkling light, sheds liquid gold
O’er seas ethereal; while the breezes stay
To kiss the fainting flowers, whose silky heads
Inclining, fade beneath their withering touch?
Can fancy give the rainbow’s lustre pure
To the cold vacuum of the sightless eye?
Insensible to colours, space, or form,
Stumbling and fearful, through a desert shade,
Man gropes forlorn, and labouring like the mole;
He feels the vivifying glow divine,
But, ’midst the blaze of radiance infinite,
An isolated being, wanders still,
Sad, unillumed, disconsolate, and lost!
Nor yet alone the misery extreme
Of the dread gloom opaque involves his mind;
The longing for that something yet unknown,
Whose power he feels, diffusing its warm touch
O’er every sensate nerve! that Power which marks
The varying seasons in their varying forms,
That tells him there is yet a sense untried,
Ungratified, yet fraught with heavenly bliss,
Distracts beyond the certitude of pain,
Chills the expanding source of mental joy,
And deadens all the faculty of man!
Ah! wo too exquisite for human thought!
Of mortal miseries, the dread Supreme!
How can the soul its energies sustain,
When Reason’s crystal gates are closed in night,
And cold Oblivion hovers o’er the mind?
What are the horrors of the dungeon’s gloom,
The bolts of steel, or the flint-fretted roof,
The temporary spells that shut the wretch
From the bland glories of effulgent day?
While Hope comes smiling on the wings of Time,
And the small crevice in his loathsome cell,
That promises a glimmering stream of light,
Bids him look forward to the coming joy!
What are the self-created, anxious fears,
That, thronging round the midnight traveller,
Give to his straining eye fantastic forms,
And fills imagination’s boundless scope
With shadowy hosts, scaring his startled mind;
While Silence reigns despotic o’er the plain;
Save where the bird of solitude salutes
The melancholy hour, and pours alone
Her love-bewailing song; yet Hope beguiles,
Nor quits him as he strays, ’till the wan moon,
Peering in silvery panoply of light,
Sails placidly sublime through the still air,
And scatters round her imitative day!
But the unvarying cloud of deepest night!
The blank perpetual of the sightless orb!
The mournful chaos of the darken’d brain!
No hope can animate, no thought illume;
All is eternal solitude profound;
A dreadful shade, that mocks each other sense,
And plunges Reason in its worst abyss!
And yet, in such a mind, so whelm’d in gloom,
The pure affections of the soul still live!
The melancholy void is subject still
To the sweet magic of seraphic sounds;
The soothing eloquence of sacred song;
The whispering gale, that mourns declining day;
Or Philomela’s soul-subduing strain,
That woos lone Echo, from her viewless seat,
To sail aerial-throned upon the breeze!
The lulling murmurs of the wandering stream;
The ever rippling rill; the cataract fierce;
The lowing herds; and the small drowsy tones
That, from the insect myriads, hum around;
The love-taught minstrelsy of plumed throats;
The dulcet strains of gentle Consolation!
But, most of all, to that loved voice, whose thrill,
Rushing impetuous through each throbbing vein,
Dilates the wondering mind, and frees its powers
From the cold chains of icy apathy
To all the vast extremes of bliss and pain!
For, to that voice adored, his quivering pulse
Responsive beats! he marks its every tone,
And finds in each a sympathetic balm!
Ill-fated wretch! he knows not the sweet sense
That feeds upon the magic of a smile!
That drinks the poison of the murderous eye,
Or rushes, in an ecstacy of bliss,
To snatch the living roses from the cheek!
He knows not what it is to trace each charm
That plays about the symmetry of form,
And heightens every timid blushing grace,
More lovely from the wonder it commands!
He never mark’d the soul-expressive tear!
The undescribable and speaking glance,
That promises unutterable bliss.
Then what to him avails the ruby lip,
Or the rich lustre of the silky waves,
That half conceal the azure tinctured eye,
As golden clouds rush on the morning star,
And glow, exulting, o’er its milder ray.
O glorious sight! sublimest gift of God!
Expansive source of intellectual bliss!
By thee we climb to immortality,
Through all the rugged paths of tedious life!
Thy nerve shoots forth a light ineffable,
That marks the fount of science, and reveals
The many-winding paths of wisdom’s maze!
Thou canst within thy narrow vortex grasp
The out-stretch’d ocean, and the landscape wide,
Diversified with craggy cliffs, whose heads
Hang fearfully sublime, half veil’d in clouds,
O’er the low valley’s solitary breast!
’Tis thine upon the mountain’s dizzy edge
To ponder on the wonders of the sky!
Or, bending o’er the margin, trace below
The world of mingling atoms, lessening still
As the dread cavity grows more profound;
Till woods, and lakes, and scatter’d villages,
And stately palaces, and lofty spires,
Fade in the deep impenetrable gloom!
Thou canst avert the storm that gathers round,
And bids thee seek the hospitable roof
Where meek philanthropy unfolds her store!
’Tis thine to contemplate the gorgeous sun
In all its majesty of living light,
Flaming despotic, o’er unnumber’d worlds!
’Tis thine to mark the snowy vested plains,
That, like the glittering stores of avarice,
Dazzle and chill the wretched wanderer’s soul!
Or, midst the wreck of nature, still secure,
Gaze where the ’blackening tempest, bursting round,
Tears the young branches from the parent trunk,
And strips the forest of its loftiest pride!
And yet! so wonderfully form’d to meet
The cutting blast, the winged lightning’s glare,
The painful radiance of the scorching sun;
To watch the midnight taper’s glimmering flame
O’er the long studious page, or pore intent
Upon the fine-wrought mysteries that lurk
In art mechanical! to trace the stars
Through all their devious labyrinths of air;
To plunge amidst the foamings of the deep;
Or pour the copious torrents from that spring
By pity cherish’d in the human breast!
Yet—so alive is every wondrous part,
In each complete, in all pre-eminent!
So exquisitely delicate each nerve,
So subject to destruction and to pain,
That the minutest particle obscure,
Almost invisible to that it meets,
Obstructs its powers, and o’er the visual ray
Rolls a huge mass of agonizing shade!
Such are the horrors, such the pangs acute,
That shroud the darken’d eye, whose mortal sense,
Consign’d to one unbless’d and mournful night,
Can by Eternal Day alone be cured.
Where the dim shade shall vanish from its beams,
And, bathing in a sea of endless light,
The renovated orb, awoke from death,
Shall snatch its rays from immortality.
Hail, Solitude serene! thou nurse of thought!
To whom the weary mind retires, to taste
The blissful hour of exquisite repose!
Thou, who delight’st to dwell in shaggy woods,
Whose variegated foliage hangs its shade
O’er the rude margin of the mountain’s brow;
Or, interwoven, down its sloping side,
Spreads the dim horrors of a mid-day night!
Hail, pensive Solitude! whose footsteps stray
Along the pebbly borders of the main,22 C3v 22
When from the eastern clouds the Sun darts forth,
Lifting his glorious canopy of fire
Above the pale horizon, spreading round
A living world of undulating light!
Or seek the cool and unfrequented bower,
The bushy dell, or the dew-spangled grot,
When the fierce lord of noon, with flaming eye,
Rolls furious o’er the sapphire floor of heaven;
Or downward shoots his shaft of glittering fire,
Upon the sultry heath and thirsty mead,
To drink the lingering tears of morn, that shine
On the young violet’s aromatic breast:
Or, when, with humid hand, her purple robe
Meek Twilight draws across the mountain’s brow,
Veiling its golden crest, in dusky shade
Of cold, oblivious gloom, thou lov’st to sit,
And watch the lamp of night, ethereal borne,
Glide o’er the cavern’d cliff, whose torrents roar
Down its stupendous sides, and foam to reach
The desolated valley, lost below!
Then, Solitude, ’tis thine in every gale
To hear celestial breathings; from each hill
To quaff the balmy essence of the breeze;
To mark, in every magic change of scene,
The grand diversity of nature’s laws,
Yet find in all the ever present God!
Whose power, sublime, with equal wonder moves
In the small flow’ret bursting from the earth,
As in the sphere-crown’d eagle’s towering wing!
Then wilt thou trace, with fancy’s tearful eye,
The once delicious scene; the rural cot;
The village house of prayer; the sun-burnt hind;
The lowly children of the rushy roof;
The flocks; the herds; and all the golden pride
Of glowing autumn whelm’d beneath the flood.
O sacred Solitude! amidst thy scenes
Of rapture infinite, thy ills are these:
The ruthless cataract; the midnight blast;
The death-wing’d tempest; and the withering bolt
Of heaven-avenging wrath! Nor art thou only
Destined to endure, in solitary shades,
The sad diversity of direful wo!
The sweeping hurricane, the stormy hour,
The fatal lightnings, and the whelming flood,
Are but the emblems of disastrous life!
Then let me court thee in thy gentlest form;
In lonely grottos, and in verdant glens,
Where the slow brook runs babbling from its source,
And perfumed zephyrs fan the fervid ray!
Where Meditation, like a hermit pure,
With bosom taught by mild philanthropy,
In silence mourns the miseries of man!
Creation’s lord! who, placed amidst the gems,
The luxuries of nature’s vast domain,
Still pants for more; and, still impatient, grasps
The glittering vision of delusive joys;
The gaudy phantoms of a transient day;
The breath of popularity, that turns
Inconstant as the wind; the flatterer’s smile;
The wreath of fame, imbued with human gore;
And, worst of all—O agonizing thought!
The paltry boast of treasure, wrung, alas,
From the torn bosom of the hapless slave,
The wretched offspring of a fiercer sun!
For these, he wields the desolating sword;
Quits the dear mansion of domestic peace;
The loved companions of his native home;
The social comforts, and the calm delights,
That thronging round the blazing hearth, beguile
The tardy winter’s night: for these he dares
The poisonous vapours of infected climes,
The torrid ray, or the pernicious blasts
Of petrifying Lapland’s cheerless skies!
For these he wanders far, o’er unknown seas,
To tame the tribes barbarian, or explore
The sad variety of human woes.
Oh! blind, misguided, and mistaken man!
To leave the garden of luxurious sweets,
And wander ’midst a desert, fraught with thorns.
Ah! let me, in some shelter’d valley, own
A cottage, lowly, but secure from harm;
From the rude rioter, of caitiff wretch,
Who, prowling by the twinkling starry light,
Assails the houseless traveller, and bares
Against this beating breast the murd’rous knife.
From such as these secure, let sweet repose
Strew on my pillow rude the buds of spring,
The opening treasures of the infant year!
There, let oblivious slumbers lull my mind,
And harmonize the quickly throbbing pulse,
That, through the creeping hour of day, endured
The various thrills of ecstacy and wo.
And you, ye airy phantoms of the brain,
Ye forms fantastical, or fraught with fear,
Oh! fly the blest abode of gentle peace;
Nor with your agonizing spells assail
The weary senses, wrapp’d in balmy sleep!
And when the lark, the harbinger of day,
Sweeps the blue ether with exulting wing,
And welcomes her approach with shrilly song,
With thee I’ll quaff the ever-winding rill,
And feast upon the luxuries that rise
From the warm bosom of the teeming earth!
While Health, the blooming handmaid of Repose,
Shall smile upon my board, and give a zest
To the rich banquet of content and joy.
There the faint wanderer shall be my guest,
With modest mien, and converse undefiled;23 C4r 23
Unvarnish’d emblems of the spotless soul!
And there, the legendary tale shall claim
The midnight hour serene; while the pale lamp
Shall feebly gleam upon the frugal board:
Yet, not to these confined; the loftier theme,
The wing’d idea, and the soothing strain
Of heaven-descended song, shall charm the soul,
And give to every nerve a keener sense!
There, shall the hoary sage, Philosophy,
Unfold his sacred lore; while Wisdom’s son
Shall, smiling, smooth the rigid brow austere,
And mingle in the scene of humbler bliss!
Then, welcome Solitude! The sphere is thine,
That gives the purest passions ample scope!
That bids the soul beam with exterior grace
Of light, reflected from the source within!
And when its essence shall evaporate,
Fann’d by the desolating wing of time;
When this dull scene of transitory life,
And all its sorrows, all its joys are o’er;
One sparkling atom, from its prison clay,
Shall soar, to mingle with its native heaven.
The Progress of Melancholy,
O! Melancholy! parent of Despair,
Whose pitying power, whose poison fell
Creeps through the sickening brain, the pallid cheek,
The languid downcast eye, the listless frame,
The desolating toil of ceaseless thought,
Proclaim thy dark and fateful hour at hand!
Absorb’d amidst surrounding revelry,
Thy child, O ruthless Melancholy! steals;
Unheeding the loud laugh, the wanton jest,
The sign mysterious, or the whisper low
Of shrewd, sharp-sighted, prying observation.
Nor magic charm, nor herb medicinal,
Nor all the treasured lore of studious skill,
Can draw thy victim from the numbing spell
That fascinates and chains her yielding soul!
Seldom she speaks: if question’d, she returns
The answer incoherent and unapt,
Mark’d by the frequent pause and vacant eye.
Sometimes she weeps; but nature’s niggard hand
Denies the copious shower, sweet balmy fount,
That cools and vivifies the burning brain!
And now she starts! and now-and-then, by fits,
She looks aghast, trembles, and deeply sighs;
Then sinks into the torpid dream again.
She loathes the blooms of spring; the glowing hour
Of feast and minstrelsy, and playful mirth!
Her mind, each active faculty possess’d,
Resigns itself to ever-musing wo:
For her no orient beam adorns the sky;
No balmy wing ethereal through the shade
Flings the refreshing breeze; no limpid brook
Sparkles with noon-tide rays, reflected back
With ten-fold lustre from its glassy breast!
The change of season, and the varying hour,
Serve to make up the dull account of time,
But bring no interval of gleaming joy!
Or, if her sense can aught discriminate,
She ponders on the miseries of life;
The barren mountain, where the tottering hut
Rocks as the whirlwind sweeps its rushy roof,
And hurls it fathoms down the craggy steep!
The chamber, where the paly quivering lamp
Shows the worn sufferer on the bed of death!
For her the woodland nightingale attunes
His song nocturnal, unregarded—lost!
The sad, the sympathetic, plaintive strain,
O’er the dull ear of sorrow passes faint,
If not unheeded; or, if feeling wakes,
Recall’d by memory to long past wo,
Reflection glances o’er the page of time,
And marks its progress with a silent tear!
Pale Melancholy shuns the rural haunt,
Where Peace, and Joy, and Revelry preside!
Bliss-breathing Health, that welcomes young Desire,
Led on by smiling Hope and blooming Love,
Starts from her withering form, and steals away,
While apathy, with petrifying hand,
Spreads a dim shadow o’er each faded charm.
The twilight gloom amidst embowering woods
She courts, and bending o’er some wizard stream
That winds among the ever-mouldering heaps,
Strew’d by the touch of time from antique towers
And arches fretted with fantastic forms,
She sits, the pensive genius of the scene!
Around her cell attentive stillness reigns;
The breezes sleep; and o’er its pebbly bed
The shallow river bends its silent way;
Death seems to triumph o’er the breathing world,
Save where the bat from the dark ruin flits,
Cleaving the night-mist with its dusky wing.
Nor there alone presides the mournful maid;
She loves to stray, and ponder as she strays,
Along the dreary monumental pile;
Where, from the Gothic roof, with ivy bound,
The whistling wind descends, and through the aisle24 C4v 24
Sweeps the long hoarded dust for ages heaped
On the vain records of th’unconscious dead!
Oft, when the wintry moon o’ertops the hills,
In circling vapour wrapp’d, she wanders forth
O’er the bleak heath; list’ning the rising gale,
Or distant village bell, whose sound, once told,
Proclaims the witching hour. Then Fancy comes;
But in her train no lovely forms appear,
No blithesome groups, thridding the roseate wreath,
Or tripping in fantastic measures by;
No sylvan pipe, no rude, yet dulcet note
Of mountain minstrelsy delights her ear;
But the shrill menace of the freezing blast,
(Throned on whose black and desolating wing
Disease and death hurl the destructive shaft)
Howls o’er her breast. Still dauntless, she proceeds;
The drizzly dew, the sharp and nipping gale,
Pass o’er her cheek unheeded. All alone
She contemplates the solitary scene,
While horror, maddening conjures up an host
Of spectres gaunt; of chiefs, whose mould’ring bones
Have slept beneath the green-sod where they fell,
Till village legends scarcely say—they died!
Now from their prison-graves again they start,
Hurling the airy javelin on the foe;
And now they rush, in mighty legions, on;
Now from the lengthening columns fiercely brave;
And now the broken ranks disorder’d fly,
Pale as the silvery beam that marks their course;
And now the breathless heaps bestrew the plain,
While on their mangled limbs the batter’d shield
Gleams horrible; as through the indented steel
The life-stream gushes from the recent wound!
The groan of death fills up the dreadful pause;
Sad, and more sad, it echoes o’er the scene,
Till, oft repeated, the deep murmur dies!
The cherish’d poison, now more potent grown,
Riots o’er all the faculties at will;
Strong in conceit, with fascination fraught,
Painfully pleasing. As the fever burns
The consciousness of misery recedes;
Till, fill’d with horror, Reason’s barrier fails,
And Frenzy triumphs o’er the infected brain!
Now the wan maniac hurries to the bourn
Whose sandy base the frequent surges lave;
Dishevell’d! wild! and fearless of the storm!
There, o’er the dreadful summit she inclines,
While darkness wraps the liquid world below:
She listens, with attention mute, to catch
The mournful murmurs of the distant main;
The tempest wakes; the roused and angry waves
Rise in the mighty elemental strife,
Urged by the howling blast, whose forceful breath
Repels them, foaming, to their native deep.
Amidst the din terrific, the doomed bark
Strikes on the rocky shore. The wretched crew
Fill the dread chorus with the groans of death,
Till the tired winds moan o’er the shatter’d wreck,
That sinks amidst the fathomless abyss!
Rous’d from her dream, pale Melancholy starts;
Shrieks louder than the blast! but shrieks unheard;
Then plunges headlong from the dizzy steep,
And, in the bosom of despair, expires!
Now the faint dawn gleams o’er the eastern cliff;
The smooth sea brightens with the coming ray,
And not a vestige of the storm is seen!
The Cavern of Wo.
As Reason, fairest daughter of the skies,
Explored the vale, where mortal misery lies;
Led on by Fortitude, with eye serene,
She mark’d each object of the varying scene;
In every maze of busy life she found
Some hidden snare, some agonizing wound;
For each her hand display’d a precious balm,
Whose power divine the tortured soul could calm;
Till midway, on a rock of dreadful height,
The cave of cureless Wo assail’d her wondering sight!
On the bleak threshold, withering and forlorn,
Heart-wounded Melancholy sat reclined!
The rude blast scattered her dishevell’d hair;
Round her cold brow the deadly nightshade twined!
Near, on a craggy point, stood wild Despair,
Whose pangs supreme all lesser miseries scorn!
And as the gaunt tormenter, smiling, view’d
The pensive child of Sorrow, soul-subdued;
With taunting mien, she beckon’d from below
The fierce, relentless bands of desolating Wo!
First, swift as lightning up the flinty steep
Impatience flew, barefooted, out of breath;
Scorning the perils of the dreadful sweep;
Heedless of wounding thorns, and threat’ning death.
Eager to rush the foremost of the train,
She fear’d not danger, and she felt not pain:25 D1r 25
With longing eye she view’d the towering height;
From peak to peak, quick climbing with delight,
She pass’d the fatal cave; then turning short,
Fell headlong from the rock, of every fiend the sport!
Then Horror darted forth, in wild amaze!
Her hair erect, with poisonous hemlock bound;
Her straining eye-balls flashing fires around,
While Nature trembled at her potent gaze!
Swift to the dizzy precipice she flew,
As, aiming with impetuous force to throw
Her giant form amidst the gulf below!
When, from an ivy’d nook obscure, pale Fear
Peep’d forth, slow whispering to her startled ear,
Think not the power of Death thy miseries will subdue!
Then Horror bent her blood-shot eyes below,
Where, by a group of demons compass’d round,
Lay Suicide accursed! from many a wound
On his bare bosom did life’s fountain flow!
Now Shame, with cheeks by burning blushes fired,
And skulking Cowardice, in haste retired!
While Conscience placed beneath his feverish head
A pillow dire, with thorns and nettles spread;
And Guilt, with all the scorpions of her train,
Oped to his fainting eyes eternity of pain!
Then Luxury approach’d on couch of down!
Drawn by her offspring, Folly and Disease,
Flush’d Pleasure decking her with roseate crown,
And bow’d Obedience, ever prone to please,
Waiting her nod! languid she seem’d and pale,
Restless, and sated with voluptuous fare;
Beside her pillow, hung with trappings rare,
Stood trembling Palsy, ready to assail;
And writhing Agony, and slow Decay,
And hood-wink’d Vice abhorr’d, that shunn’d the eye of day.
Next, with a solemn, slow, and feeble pace,
Came silent Poverty, in tatter’d vest!
The frequent tears, that glisten’d on her breast,
Had fretted channels down her meagre face!
A rabble crew of idiots dinn’d her ear:
While mean Reproach came smiling in the rear.
With firm, yet modest look, she pass’d along;
Nor sought relief, nor mark’d the taunting throng;
While her wrung heart, still scorning to complain,
Suppress’d the rending groan, and throbb’d with proud disdain.
Close at her heels, insidious Envy crept;
The imp, deform’d and horrible in shape,
Mock’d, when the slow-consuming victim wept,
Pointing, and grinning, like a wither’d ape:
About her throat the asp Detraction clung,
Scattering destructive poisons from her tongue!
She waved a blasted laurel o’er her head,
Stolen from the sacred ashes of the dead;
Inly she pined; while in her panting breast
Shrunk Ignorance struck its fangs, to banish gentle rest.
In a lone corner, almost hid in shade,
With downcast eye, sat unrequited Love!
As from their hollow cell the slow tears stray’d,
A willow garland for his brow he wove!
Low at his feet bare Madness laid his head,
Rattling his chains, upon his flinty bed!
Roused from his stupor by the clanking sound,
The pensive youth gazed fearfully around;
And wondering to behold such misery near,
Forgot his mournful wreath, and dropp’d a pitying tear.
Now, labouring up the flinty winding road,
Laden with treasure, bending to the ground,
Appear’d lean Avarice! the ponderous load
Seem’d his weak shoulders every step to wound:
One thread-bare garb hung on his aged form;
Scant covering from the bleak and wintry storm!
Before him Famine went, a thing decay’d;
And dark Suspicion, grasping at a shade!
While Fraud, low crawling, mock’d the reptile’s art,
Pilfer’d the scatter’d gold, and wrung the miser’s heart!
Next came Deceit, with smooth and fawning tongue,
Glozing with praises every thing debased;
To shield her breast a flattering mirror hung;
A tinsel zone shone dazzling round her waist!
Her hand, conceal’d beneath her flimsy vest,
Clasp’d a keen dagger, ready to destroy;
Content she seem’d, though, in her cunning breast,
Her coward soul shrunk from the touch of joy;
Her humble voice the listening ear beguiled,
While, with infernal art, she murder’d as she smiled.
Now through the cavern rush’d with iron hand
Oppression insolent! his arm he raised,
Waving his spear, with absolute command,
While every subject fiend retired, amazed!
At awful distance, trembling, prostrate round,
The sons of pining slavery kiss’d the ground;
Till, darting forward, o’er the abject crowd,
With voice exulting, menacing, and loud,
Insatiate Vengeance snatch’d the up-raised lance,
While bold Oppression’s arm fell nerveless at his glance.
Next Pride came forward, gorgeously array’d;
His brow a starry wreath of gems compress’d;
In his right hand a sceptre he display’d;
A robe of costly ermine wrapp’d his breast!
Enthroned, sublime, above the wondering race,
Immortal beauties seem’d to deck his face!
His eye assumed pre-eminence of sway;
He reign’d the gilded idol of the day;
Till Death, his dread supremacy to show,
Struck at the vaunting wretch, and laid his sceptre low.
Now, rattling o’er the teeming plains afar,
Came glittering Wealth, in his resplendent car!
His rapid course swift-footed Toil pursued
With sinewy limbs, and brown sun-freckled breast;
The lord of luxury his vassal view’d,
And, smiling, lifted high his haughty crest!
But, when neglected Toil at length retired,
The short-lived glories of his brow expired;
Around his eager eyes he roll’d in vain;
Ingratitude appeared, and claim’d her turn to reign!
At her approach, the fatal cavern rung:
Loud shouts of horror rent the vaulted stone!
All lesser fiends their heads in sorrow hung;
Omnipotent in ill, she grasp’d the infernal throne:
Then Reason mark’d her blest associate fly;
And shuddering at the scene, re-sought her native sky!
To the Memory of Marie Antoinette, Queen of France,
Written immediately after her execution.
When, the dread scene of death and horror o’er,
Reason’s calm eye Time’s tablet shall explore;
When the dark demons of destructive ire
No more shall see devoted hosts expire;
When, o’er the desolated clime, the wise
Shall bid, too late, the sacred olive rise—
Then Justice shall the dreary spot illume
Where Pity lingers on the martyr’s tomb;
And, scattering Sorrow’s incence, sighing, say—
Thy fame, illustrious soul! shall ne’er decay!
Oh! then, when wandering on some distant shore,
Musing o’er scenes of bliss he tastes no more!
The holy exile shall, with up-raised eyes,
Implore, for thee, the rapture of the skies!
Though sad, forlorn, a stranger to repose,
Celestial Faith shall mitigate his woes!
And Patience, smiling from her sphery throne,
Shall bid his throbbing heart some solace own!
Yet, as the pious sufferer bends his way,
Cheer’d by the prospects of eternal day,
Oft shall he pour his orisons divine,
Forget his pangs, and only weep for thine!
The pilgrim who, with tearful eye, shall view
The moon’s wan lustre on the midnight dew,
As through the lonesome labyrinth he strays,
Sooth’d by her lamp, and guided by its rays,
Shall offer up to Heaven an humble prayer,
(For contrite sighs are ever welcome there!)
That in seraphic realms, thy soul may know
That bliss, inhuman rage denied below!
Ah! who can trace, nor feel a pang severe,
The dawn of joy that usher’d thy career!
When, round thy youthful form, divinely gay,
Ecstatic rapture wing’d the hours away?
When, from the perfumed couch of soft repose,
More lustrous than the morn, thy beauty rose!
When all was pleasure, adoration, ease;
For power was temper’d by the wish to please;
Where all around thee charm’d the dazzled view,
For ever splendid, yet for ever new;
Adorn’d with gems to Gallia’s sons unknown,
Domestic virtues, glittering round the throne.
Who can reflect, nor drop the tenderest tear
On the dread progress of thy fate severe!
Hurl’d from the loftiest height of human bliss,
To the worst horrors of Despair’s abyss!
To bear th’insulting cruelty of those
Who, from thy subjects, to thy tyrants rose!
Tore thy pale darlings from thy panting breast,
And made maternal woes the rabble’s jest;
The bonds of wedded virtue rent in twain,
And Truth’s white bosom stampt with Falsehood’s stain!
Denied the decent aid of female hands!
No kind domestics wait thy meek commands!
On a straw pallet, in a dungeon laid—
By all suspected, and by all betray’d!27 D2r 27
Yet, ’midst the tortures of the direful plan,
Which thrills with horror through the breast of man,
Not all the rage of hell’s abhorr’d decree
Could force one supplicating tear from thee!
As the rich floweret on the mountain’s side
Unfolds its charms, and blooms with harmless pride;
Raised ’midst the clouds, to combat every blast;
Too high for shelter, and too fair to last;
Awhile, contending with the varying spheres;
Now blushing beauties, now adorn’d with tears;
Still braves the mid-day sun, the chilling night,
Sweet to the sense, and lovely to the sight;
Nor heeds the torrent, rising o’er its bound;
Or the dark skies, in tempests gathering round;
Till from the flinty steep the waters flow,
Pouring destruction o’er the vale below;
And sweeping, with their desolating powers,
The towering cedars and o’erhanging bowers;
From rock to rock the frothy columns bound,
Deafening calm Nature with the fateful sound;
Till, by no barrier in its course confined,
It whelms the plain, and leaves no trace behind;
No waving forest to adorn the scene;
No hut to tell what once the spot had been;
No sweet diversity enchants the eye;
One liquid space reflects the lowering sky;
While on its troubled surface, spreading wide,
Float the torn fragments of the mountain’s pride;
Till all, celestial bounty gave, defaced,
One dreadful chaos triumphs o’er the waste!—
Such is thy lot, O Gallia! such the rage
That blurs, with crimson spots, fair Nature’s page!
That leaps the bounds of Reason, and destroys
The law’s strong barrier, and the subject’s joys;
That roots up all the sacred rights of Truth,
The claims of age, the energies of youth;
Bids Commerce tremble, Justice hide her scale,
Contention revel, and Revenge prevail,
Religion perish in the guilty mind,
And Devastation riot unconfined!
While all are rulers—all, alas! are slaves,
Each dreads his fellow, each his fellow braves;
While in one horrid mass all miseries blend;
Each shuns his brother, and each fears his friend.
The son, with blood-stain’d faulchion, strikes the sire—
The parent smiles, to see the son expire!
Against his lord the vassal wields his spear,
The vaunting atheist mocks the vestal’s tear!
The lawless idiot lifts his ruthless arm,
To tear from science every graceful charm!
While Genius from the maddening tumult flies,
Weeps o’er her withering bays, and seeks the skies!
Far o’er the globe, from all his kindred driven,
Behold the sacred minister of Heaven!
The pious pastor, wandering o’er the earth,
Of mind enlightened, and of noblest birth;
With whose proud race the proudest virtues came,
To prove their rank their secondary claim;
Who, ’midst the duties of religious life,
Shrunk from the clamours of domestic strife.
What is his lot?—To weep in some lone bower,
And count new sorrows with each passing hour;
To view the radiant morn with aching eyes,
O’er the far distant promontory rise;
Diffusing bliss o’er Nature’s children gay,
Who laugh and labour through the peaceful day;
Who fear no ruthless hand to check their joy,
No mandate dire, existence to destroy;
Who, bless’d with conscious innocence, can smile,
Unstain’d with blood, and unreproach’d with guile;
All the long day the task of toil endure,
Contented, simple, peaceful, and secure.
To see the infants, like fair branches, rise,
The cherish’d offspring of serenest skies;
While the rough parent, like the oak, shall last,
To nurse their tender beauties ’midst the blast;
Till, nourish’d to perfection, they aspire
To match the sturdy virtues of their sire.—
Turn to the beauteous martyr! Austria’s pride!
Epitome of all—to worth allied!
Mark, in her altered and distracted mien,
The fatal ensigns of the pangs within;
See those fair tresses on her shoulders flow
In silvery waves, that mock the Alpine snow.
Where are their waving braids of glossy gold,
That crown’d her brow, in many a silky fold?
That brow, so wither’d by Affliction’s blast,
So stampt with Age, before her prime was past.
Where are the graces of that ’witching form?
Torn from their home, and scatter’d to the storm!
Those eyes like sapphire gems were wont to shine;
Bright beaming samples of their native mine—
What are they now? closed in the sleep of death!
Their blaze extinguish’d by Rebellion’s breath!
Yet, as the tempest threaten’d their abode,
A stream celestial from their radiance flow’d.
Like setting stars, they left their humid spheres,
And their last fainting lustre gleam’d through tears.
Oh! I have seen her, like a sun, sublime,
Diffusing glory on the wings of Time:
And, as revolving seasons own his flight,
Marking each brilliant minute with delight.
Yet not to pleasure only was she prone;
She made the miseries of the poor her own.
No ostentation lessen’d Pity’s meed—
Unseen she gave, and silence seal’d the deed.
She sought no plaudits from obsequious pride;
She paid herself—for nature was her guide.28 D2v 28
For conscious rapture, to the tottering shed
Oft would she fly, to bless the mourner’s bed;
There, bending o’er the aged widow’s form,
With smiles celestial, chase the wintry storm;
Heal the stung bosom with compassion’s tear!
Pour balmy counsel in the startled ear!
Fan, with her signs, the fever of the brain;
And, by partaking, lessen every pain!
Shunn’d be the fiend, who, in these dreadful times
Would brand her memory with infernal crimes;
Shunn’d be the monster, who, with recreant art,
Beyond the grave, would hurl detraction’s dart!
With sacrilegious hands, relentless tear
The blood-steep’d laurel, newly planted there!
For, though insulted, massacred, defamed,
The laurel, still, her peerless virtues claim’d!
While, round the rugged sod, dread silence reigns,
The cherub, Truth, obliterates its stains.
Then let the muse her weary sorrows trace,
And candour blot the records of disgrace!
Nursed in the cradle of imperial state,
Her infant dreams proclaim’d a milder fate!
Enchanting visions soothed her opening mind;
Though young, enlighten’d; and though gay, refined!
Succeeding years rolled on; and, as she grew,
Each fleeting hour presented raptures new!
Fresh as the breeze that fans the breast of May,
She scatter’d perfumes on the face of day!
Pride of her royal line, in youth’s soft grace,
She bloom’d, the loveliest blossom of her race!
Transplanted from the bower of sweet repose,
With Gallia’s lilies blending Austria’s rose;
Formed to adorn a cottage or a throne;
For all that soothed the senses was her own!
A stranger, from her native land, she came;
Her dowry beauty, and her passport fame!
Too young to play the subtle courtier’s part,
She charm’d all eyes, and gladden’d every heart!
Too innocent, deceptive wiles to plan!
(Her power acknowledged, ere her reign began,)
So exquisitely fair, so mildly gay,
She made the wisest converts to her sway!
To rule, she sought not; for obedience hung
On the soft accents of her tuneful tongue.
Her smile could guide the stubborn heart, or move
The soul of apathy to thrills of love!
Each playful action spoke the fire of youth;
Her blush was innocence! her voice was truth!
She trod the flowery paths of bliss supreme;
Delight her guide, and gratitude her theme!
Till, ’midst its sweets, the serpent, envy, grew,
Hating her charms, and sickening at their view!
Pre-eminent she shone!—Each lesser light
Shrunk from her radiance, in the glooms of night:
Yet, like malignant stars, with potent power,
Flamed the fierce demons of the vengeful hour;
And scatter’d ’midst the storm their borrow’d rays,
To prove the sun was set that bid them blaze!
First, low complaining murmurs echo’d round,
While pleased Contention caught the sullen sound;
Then while the mischief conjured up Despair,
Each thought his wrongs too infinite to bear
Too rash to follow Reason’s sober plan,
They marr’d the triumph they had scarce began!
Now, mark the howling tempest far and wide!
Mark, on the winds infuriate spirits ride!
O’er the proud fabric and the painted dome,
Long-threatening shadows spread impervious gloom;
Death stalks, unmask’d beside the scepter’d hand,
While round the regal chair dark demons stand;
With cries of murder, now the palace shakes,
And all is ruin, ere Reflection wakes;
Where the rich banquet met the dazzled eye,
A thousand sheathless poniards glittering lie;
While the loud cannons roar destruction round,
Triumphant Mischief smiles at every sound;
And Malice pilfers all the sweets of rest,
And plants the thorn of Woe in beauty’s breast.
For crimes long past, when erst Oppression’s hand
Drove weeping Freedom from the Gallic land;
When Truth fled, trembling, and subdued with fears;
And godlike Virtue only shone in tears;
For woes long past, insatiate Ire decreed,
The just should fall; the guiltless heart should bleed!
That heart which shudder’d at recorded crimes
Stampt on the tablet of disastrous times!
Which shrunk, aghast, at every dreadful view
That show’d past centuries, blackening as they flew!
When recreant satellites exulting shone,
Their light a meteor, and their sphere the throne!
Was it for those the last illustrious race
Wash’d, with their blood, the page of dire Disgrace!
Was it for those an Alien’s heart was torn
With taunting Insult’s agonizing thorn!
While low she bow’d, in withering graces drest,
Truth in her eye, and valour in her breast!
Was it for those ill-fated Louis fell,
’Midst the vile clamours of the rabble’s yell?
Forced from his shrieking infants! and denied
A parent’s comfort, and a parent’s pride!
Dragg’d to the fatal agonizing goal;
His only crime—the meekness of his soul!
For, ah! while memory ponders o’er the page
That marks the regal line from age to age,29 D3r 29
Distracted Gallia! thou shalt never see
So rare a scion from so frail a tree!
Mark the last scene of his disastrous state,
When patient Virtue braved the lance of Fate!
When, on the scaffold, crimson’d o’er with blood,
The monarch, husband, parent, martyr, stood
Amidst his subjects, now his foes severe;
No pitying friend his parting sigh to hear!
E’en then, high towering o’er all human woes,
Above himself the smiling victim rose;
And, braving human sorrow’s vengeful rod
Breath’d his last prayer, and gave his soul to God!
Thus the proud eagle, whose strong pinions soar,
With dauntless eye day’s sovereign to explore,
Sees all around transcendent glory blaze;
The world beneath, an atom to his gaze:
Yet through the airy regions grandly flies,
And drinks the viewless nectar of the skies:
In the bland space he wields his lordly flight,
And riots in the plenitude of light;
Till thickening vapours choke the fostering stream,
Veil the faint stars, and shroud the orient beam.
Swift to the world beneath his pinions sail,
Where the tall cliff hangs lowering o’er the vale;
Where, rock’d upon the forest’s waving crest,
He left his offspring in their mother’s breast.
There, too, he finds the ruthless tempest’s power,
The blue-wing’d lightning, and the whelming shower;
There, the shrill blast the rifted pine lays low,
While down the rocks the mingling cataracts flow;
His darling mate, his little unfledged brood,
Dash’d on the foamy bosom of the flood!
Loud thunder mock th’ aerial sovereign’s cries,
Till, ’midst the dreadful din, he soars, and dies!
Now, ere the muse her mournful task resigns,
And the last cypress garland fondly twines;
Ere the faint emblems of her grief sincere
Shall fade beneath Reflection’s frequent tear;—
She turns, with curious eye, the woes to trace,
Heap’d on the breathing sufferers of thy race;
Who, daily pining in a dungeon’s gloom,
Anticipate the silence of the tomb!
Who, all the live-long day, unseen, alone,
Pour the deep cadence of the tottering groan;
Start, if the winds along their prison creep;
Slumber, to dream of death, and wake to weep!
Who, each new dawn, behold a glimmering ray
Shed through their drear abode a doubtful day;
And when the evening sun, with purpling light,
Proclaims the coming shade of fearful night,
Behold, with fancy’s all-creating eyes,
The bleeding spectres of their kindred rise!
Mark, from each bosom gash’d, a crimson tide,
Life’s tepid fountain from its channels glide!
The widowed mother casts a wistful gaze
On the sweet darlings of her splendid days;
On her pale cheek the frozen tear still dwells,
Like April dew upon the snow-drop’s bells;
Her quivering lips, in murmurs, seem to say,
I come, my cherubs, from the realms of day!
Thy father triumphs in the spheres of rest,
And shares the endless transports of the blest!
There, far removed from Fate’s disastrous frown,
He lives, possessed of an immortal crown!
Then, as the feeble infants wondering stand,
The fleeting spectre waves its snowy hand!
The moaning wind through every crevice blows;
Down the damp wall the midnight vapour flows:
On their cold flinty couch, with tearful eye,
Clasp’d in each other’s arms, the mourners lie;
They tremble, whisper, sigh, yet fear to weep,
Till nature, faint with anguish, sinks in sleep!
See, in the neighbouring cell, Princess Elizabeth, the unoffending victim of popular frenzy. Her only crime was that of being sister to the unhappy monarch. a withering form
Lists the fierce howlings of the midnight storm;
Till, through her prison lattice, she descries
The opening radiance of the morning skies!
Upon the iron window’s triple grate
The chirping red-breast hails his freezing mate;
Spreads his weak wing to meet the sun’s faint ray,
And sweetly twitters forth his matin lay:
While the fair victim of supreme despair
Beholds the free-born commoners of air;
Envies their happy lot, and feebly cries,
Ye little harmless travellers of the skies,
Why quit your leafy bowers, your verdant plains,
And wing your flight to Misery’s dread domains?
Why, from the breezy hill’s enamell’d side,
To these sad towers your whirring pinions guide?
Hence, ye poor minstrels; hence, nor listen here,
Where pining Sorrow drinks her frequent tear;
Where Vengeance bares her never-weary fang,
And smiles, insulting, on the sufferer’s pang;
Where each corroding torment mocks relief,
And death, death only, ends the reign of grief!
Is there, in all the legends of past times,
An era blacken’d with such wanton crimes?30 D3v 30
Such barbarous mischiefs! sweeping from the earth
Religion, talents, innocence, and worth!
The wise, the good, the brave—all feel its force!
Uncheck’d by reason, torpid to remorse.
All smear’d with gore, pale Liberty appears,
Her smiles contending with repentant tears;
No more her hand fair flowerets scatters round;
Her faulchion steams from many a recent wound:
O’er shatter’d pyramids she maddening flies,
Power in her arm, and murder in her eyes;
Scared by the clamours of the furious rage,
She spares not worth nor genius, sex nor age!
All records perish by her rash decree;
The wreaths of valour, pride of Chivalry;
The sculptor’s art, the boast of many a clime,
(Snatch’d from the desolating grasp of time);
The painter’s glowing canvass, which displays
The finish’d study of laborious days—
Heaped in one sacrilegious ruin lie,
Feeding the flame that menaces the sky;
While Ignorance points the victims of its ire,
And loads with offerings the insatiate fire!
Deep dying murmurs float upon the gale,
And every zephyr bears some wo-fraught tale!
Here, widows pine, not daring to complain;
There, orphans languish for a parent slain;
The mountain peasant quits his lone retreat,
His clay-built cottage and his vineyard neat;
No more, at eve’s approach, his infants run,
While the vale reddens with the sinking sun,
To greet their weary sire, whose labours hard
Meet, in their dear embrace, their sweet reward!
No more, when winter desolates the grove,
He listens to the voice of wedded love;
Trims the clay hearth, and, as the faggots blaze,
Chants the old ditty of his grandsire’s days;
While his fond mate the homely meal prepares,
Smiles on his board and dissipates his cares;
No more, amidst the simple village throng,
He joins the sportive dance, the merry song;
Now, torn from those, he quits his native wood,
Braves the dread front of war, and pants for blood!
Now, to his reap-hook and his pastoral reed,
The crimson’d pike and glittering sword succeed!
His russet garb, now changed for trappings vain;
His rushy pillow, for the tented plain;
No more his matin song’s melodious note
Along the mountain’s breezy side shall float;
No more his board, with luscious fruits supply’d,
Shall mock the banquet of luxurious pride;
No more sweet slumbers bless his midnight hours;
No more Hope strews his daily path with flowers;
From his lorn breast all earthly comforts fly;
He hates to live—yet more, he fears to die!
Now, when the tardy day begins to rise,
And short-lived slumbers quit his feverish eyes,
Fancy with agonizing power, displays
The peaceful comforts of his happier days;
Shows, on the pallet of his former rest,
His infants moaning on their mother’s breast!
Pinch’d by pale Famine, sinking to the grave;
No food to nourish, and no friend to save!
Ah! then, he cries half maddening with despair,
Is this the freedom I was call’d to share?
Where is my clay-built hut? where wont to reign
The little monarch of love’s free domain,
My smiling partner clasp’d me to her breast,
My infants bless’d me, ere I sunk to rest!
Turn to the nobles; there let Pity view
The many suffering for the guilty few.
Perish the wretch who, sanction’d by his birth,
Presumes to persecute the child of worth;
Perish the wretch who tarnishes descent
By the vile vaunting of a life ill spent;
Who sullies proud propinquity of blood,
Yet frowns indignant on the low-born good;
Who shields his recreant bosom with a name,
And first in infamy, is last in fame.
Yet let Reflection’s eye discriminate
The difference ’twixt the mighty and the great.
Virtue is still illustrious, still sublime,
In every station, and in every clime.
Truth can derive no eminence from birth,
Rich in the proud supremacy of Worth;
Its blest dominion vast and unconfined,
Its crown eternal, and its throne the mind.
Then Heaven forbid that Prejudice should scan
With jaundiced eye the dignities of man;
That Persecution’s agonizing rod
Should boldly smite the noblest work of God;
That rank should be a crime, and Genius hurl’d
A mournful wanderer on the pitying world.
Yet Heaven forbid that Ignorance should rise
On the dread basis where Religion dies;
That Liberty, immortal as the spheres,
Should steep her laurel in a nation’s tears.
Oh, falsely named! Does Liberty require
The child should perish for the guilty sire?
Does Liberty inspire the atheist’s breast
To mock his God, and make his laws a jest?
Does Liberty with barbarous fetters bind
Her first-born hope, the freedom of the mind?
Hence bold usurper of that heaven-taught power,
Which wings with ecstacy man’s transient hour;
Which bids the eye of Reason cloudless shine,
And gives Mortality a charm divine.
’Midst the wild winds, the lordly cedar towers;
Progressive days invigorate its powers;
The earlier branches, withering as they spread,
Round the firm root their coarsest foliage shed;
While the proud tree its verdant head rears high,
Waves to the blast, and seems to pierce the sky;
Till the rich trunk, matured by lengthening years,
Through all their wondrous changes, braves the spheres;31 D4r 31
Flings its rich fragrance on the gales that sweep
The humid forehead of the mountain’s steep;
Mocks the fierce rage of elemental war,
The bolt’s red sulphur, and the thunder’s jar;
And, when around the shatter’d fragments lie,
The stricken victims of th’ infuriate sky—
Amidst the wrecks of Nature seems to climb
Supremely grand, and awfully sublime!
So heaven-taught Reason, whispering to the sense,
In Nature’s pure persuasive eloquence,
Points out, amidst creation’s mazy plan,
The vast, the varying miseries of man:
Then, as Experience comes with piercing eye,
From his stern gaze delusive visions fly;
Then radiant Knowledge rushes to his view,
Spurns the deceptive, and adopts the true;
Tears Folly’s tinsel trappings from his breast,
Which shines in Truth’s invulnerable vest;
Thus arm’d against the shafts of life he goes,
Smiles at their menace, and resists their woes;
While on his mind, in conscious virtue great,
The shield of Reason blunts the lance of fate!
Immortal genius! let the votive line,
The Muse’s laurel, and her fame, be thine;
For thou shalt live when Pride’s indignant eye
Closed in eternal solitude shall lie.
When those who flutter’d through their little day
Shall, like their follies and their names, decay;
When the faint memory of inferior souls
Down the dark channel of oblivion rolls—
Thou shalt survive. Then let not Envy’s frown
Blast the proud trophies that compose thy crown:
Let not the poison of a reptile’s sting
Contaminate the lustre of thy wing;
But from each flaming plume indulgent give
A pitying ray, to bid the insects live.
Trace, if thou canst, one straggling spark of worth,
One gleaming atom to adorn their birth;
For little virtues dazzle in the proud,
As stars shine lustrous ’midst a vast of cloud.
Then, Genius, let the toilsome task be thine,
To labour in the dark precarious mine;
And if, amidst the chaos, thou shouldst find
One great, one beauteous attribute of mind,
To twine round Merit’s brow the wreath of fame,
And give nobility a loftier name!
Ill-fated Queen! then let the tribute just,
The poet’s numbers consecrate thy bust.
And when new ages shall the tale unfold,
On the red page of massacre enroll’d,
Philanthropy, with shuddering heart shall trace
The storms that bow’d the lilies of thy race!
Yet, ’midst the desolating gloom descry
Transcendent chaplets that shall never die!
The wonders of thy mind shall History own;
The brightest gems that glisten’d round thy throne;
Which gave thee charms beyond the glare of power
To brave thy foes, and gild thy latest hour!
And when thy weary soul, on wings sublime,
Sought its dear partner in a purer clime,
Thy sufferings left on Truth’s recording page
An awful lesson for each future age!
To the Muse.
O, let me seize thy pen sublime
That paints, in melting dulcet rhyme,
The glowing power, the magic art,
Th’ ecstatic raptures of the heart;
Soft Beauty’s timid smile serene,
The dimples of Love’s sportive meiien;
The sweet descriptive tale to trace;
To picture Nature’s winning grace;
To steal the tear from Pity’s eye;
To catch the sympathetic sigh;
O teach me, with swift lightning’s force
To watch wild Passion’s varying course;
To mark th’ enthusiast’s vivid fire,
Or calmly touch thy golden lyre,
While gentle Reason mildly sings
Responsive to the trembling strings.
Sweet nymph, enchanting Poetry!
I dedicate my mind to thee.
Oh! from thy bright Parnassian bowers
Descend, to bless my sombre hours;
Bend to the earth thy eagle-wing,
And on its glowing plumage bring
Blythe Fancy, from whose burning eye
The young ideas sparkling fly:
O come, and let us fondly stray
Where rosy Health shall lead the way,
And soft Favonius lightly spread
A perfumed carpet as we tread;
Ah! let us from the world remove,
The calm forgetfulness to prove,
Which at the still of evening’s close
Lulls the tired peasant to repose;
Repose, whose balmy joys o’er-pay
The sultry labours of the day.
And when the blue-eyed dawn appears,
Just peeping through her veil of tears;
Or blushing opes her silver gate,
And on its threshold stands elate,
And flings her rosy mantle far
O’er every loitering dewy star;
And calls the wanton breezes forth,
And sprinkles diamonds o’er the earth;
While in the green wood’s shade profound
The insect race, with buzzing sound,
Flit o’er the rill—a glittering train,
Or swarm along the sultry plain;
Then in sweet converse let us rove
Where in the thyme-embroider’d grove,
The musky air its fragrance pours
Upon the silvery scatter’d showers;
To hail soft Zephyr, as she goes
To fan the dew-drop from the rose;
To shelter from the scorching beam,
And muse beside the rippling stream.
Or when, at twilight’s placid hour,
We stroll to some sequester’d bower,
And watch the haughty sun retire
Beneath his canopy of fire;
While slow the dusky clouds enfold
Day’s crimson curtains fringed with gold,
And o’er the meadows faintly fly
Pale shadows of the purpling sky;
While softly o’er the pearl-deck’d plain
Cold Dian leads the sylvan train;
In mazy dance and sportive glee,
Sweet Muse, I’ll fondly turn to thee;
And thou shalt deck my couch with flowers,
And wing with joy my silent hours.
When Sleep, with downy hand, shall spread
A wreath of poppies round my head;
Then Fancy on her wing sublime,
Shall waft me to the sacred clime
Where my enlighten’d sense shall view,
Through ether, realms of azure hue,
That flame where Shakespeare used to fill,
With matchless fire, his golden quill.33 E1r 33
While from its point bright Genius caught
The wit supreme, the glowing thought,
The magic tone, that sweetly hung
About the numbers which he sung.
Then will I skim the floating air,
On a light couch of gossamer,
While with my wonder-aching eye
I contemplate the spangled sky,
And hear the vaulted roof repeat
The song of Inspiration sweet;
While round the winged cherub train
Shall iterate the aery strain;
Swift through my quivering nerves shall float
The tremours of each thrilling note;
And every eager sense confess
Ecstatic transport’s wild excess;
Till, waking from the glorious dream,
I hail the morn’s refulgent beam.
Dear maid! of ever-varying mien,
Exulting, pensive, gay, serene,
Now, in transcendent pathos drest,
Now, gentle as the turtle’s breast;
Where’er thy feathery steps shall lead,
To side-long hill, or flowery mead;
To sorrow’s coldest, darkest cell,
Or where, by Cynthia’s glimmering ray,
The dapper fairies frisk and play
About some cowslip’s golden bell;
And, in their wanton frolic mirth,
Pluck the young daisies from the earth,
To canopy their tiny heads,
And decorate their verdant beds;
While, to the grasshopper’s shrill tune,
They quaff libations to the moon,
From acorn goblets, amply fill’d
With dew, from opening flowers distill’d—
Or when the lurid tempest pours,
From its dark urn impetuous showers;
Or from its brow’s terrific frown
Hurls the pale murderous lightnings down;
To thy enchanting breast I’ll spring,
And shield me with thy golden wing.
Or when, amidst ethereal fire,
Thou strik’st thy Della Cruscan lyre,
While round, to catch the heavenly song,
Myriads of wondering seraphs throng;
Whether thy harp’s empassion’d strain
Pours forth an Ovid’s tender pain,
Or in Pindaric flights sublime
Re-echoes through the starry clime;
Thee I’ll adore, transcendent guest,
And woo thee to my burning breast.
But if thy magic powers impart
One soft sensation to the heart,
If thy warm precepts can dispense
One thrilling transport o’er my sense;
Oh! keep thy gifts, and let me fly,
In Apathy’s cold arm to die.
To Della Crusca.
Enlighten’d patron of the sacred lyre!
Whose ever-varying, ever-witching song
Revibrates on the heart
With magic thrilling touch,
Till every nerve, with quivering throb divine,
In maddening tumults, owns thy wondrous power;
For well thy dulcet notes
Can wind the mazy song,
In labyrinth of wild fantastic form;
Or with empassion’d pathos woo the soul
With sounds more sweetly mild
Than Sappho’s plaint forlorn,
When bending o’er the waves she sung her woes,
And pitying Echo hover’d o’er the deep,
Till in their coral caves
The tuneful Nereids wept.
Ah! whither art thou flown? where pours thy song?
The model and the pride of British bards!
Sweet star of Fancy’s orb,
O tell me, tell me, where?
Say, dost thou waste it on the viewless air
That bears it to the confines of high heaven?
Or does it court the meed
Of proud pre-eminence?
Or steals it o’er the glittering sapphire wave,
Calming the tempest with its silver sounds?
Or does it charm to love
The fond believing maid?
Or does it hover o’er the Alpine steep,
Or, softly breathing under myrtle shades,
With sympathy divine,
Solace the child of wo?
Where’er thou art, oh! let thy gentle strain
Again with magic power delight mine ear,
Untutor’d in the spells
And mysteries of song.
Then, on the margin of the deep I’ll muse,
And bless the rocking bark ordain’d to bear
My sad heart o’er the wave,
From this ungrateful isle;
When the wan queen of night, with languid eye,
Peeps o’er the mountain’s head, or through the vale
Illumes the glassy brook,
Or dew-besprinkled heath,
Or with her crystal lamp directs the feet
Of the benighted traveller, cold and sad,
Through the long forest drear,
And pathless labyrinth,
To the poor peasant’s hospitable cot,
For ever open to the wretch forlorn;
O then I’ll think on thee,
And iterate thy strain,
And chant thy matchless numbers o’er and o’er;
And I will court the sullen ear of night,E 34 E1v 34
To bear the rapt’rous sound,
On her dark shadowy wing,
To where, encircled by the sacred Nine,
The lyre awakes the never-dying song!
Now, bard admired, farewell
The white sail flutters loud,
The gaudy streamers lengthen in the gale,
Far from my native shore I bend my way;
Yet, as my aching eye
Shall view the lessening cliff,
Till its stupendous head shall scarce appear
Above the surface of the swelling deep,
I’ll snatch a ray of hope,
For Hope’s the lamp divine
That lights and vivifies the fainting soul,
With ecstacies beyond the powers of song!
That ere I reach those banks
Where the loud Tiber flows,
Or milder Arno slowly steals along,
To the soft music of the summer breeze,
The wafting wing of time
May bear this last adieu,
This wild, untutor’d picture of the heart,
To him whose magic verse inspired the strain.
Now by th’ Aonian nymphs inspired
By glowing emulation fired!
Of thee I’ll sing.—Illustrious maid!
In peerless majesty array’d!
Who, all creative, all sublime,
First sprang from the ethereal clime,
To bid enraptured fancy trace
The bright infinity of space,
Where Fame of pure celestial birth
A starry wreath prepares to crown Immortal Worth!
Blest Genius! power divine!
Now shall the votive song be thine
Nor thou the pensive muse disdain,
Who oft, by fancy led, shall rove
To soft Arcadia’s myrtle grove,
And tune the pastoral reed or chant the sylvanstrain.
Or could her trembling hand aspire
To wake the loud resounding lyre,
Where Pindus rears its haughty crest,
By thy immortal laurels drest!
Or on Parnassian heights sublime
Snatch from the passing wing of Time
A plume, that smiling Hope might lave
Deep in the Heliconian wave!
For thee her burning hand should fling
Ecstatic measures o’er the bounding string!
Nor thou, star-crested nymph! refuse
The offerings of an untaught Muse,
Who twines, amidst uncultivated bowers,
A small, but fragrant wreath, of Nature’s simplest flowers.
Proud parent of supreme delight!
Thou Sun! from whose rich source
The lustrous stream of mental sight
Points to mortality a glorious course!
’Tis thine with magic sweet control
To guide the timid sensate soul;
To mark, on Truth’s enlighten’d page,
In every clime, in every age,
How empty earthly power appears,
A glittering phantom, fraught with fears;
How dark the rugged paths of life;
How planted with the thorns of strife;
How paltry wealth; how false the glare
That dazzles round the regal chair;
How fragile Beauty’s blush; how poor
The Miser, ’midst his countless store;
When o’er the labouring sons of clay
Thou scorn’st to spread sublime thy broad effulgent ray!
O Genius! at thy view,
Low in the dust, the grovelling crew
Fall, stricken like the summer fly,
’Midst torrid radiance doom’d to die;
Whilst thou, whose towering mind
No base or sordid spells can bind,
Far, far from human wo canst rise,
To purer joys, to brighter skies!
As the triumphant eagle bends his flight,
To lave his lordly wing in floods of burninglight!
Oft have I seen thee, sportive, wild,
Frolic Nature’s playful child,
With infant sweetness, weaving boughs,
To hang on fickle Fancy’s brows!
Then wouldst thou snatch the rose-deck’dlyre,
And with thy airy fingers play,
In measures madly gay,
A song that might e’en Apathy inspire!
Then, sated with the ’witching sound,
Dash thy rapt lyre upon the ground,
And o’er thy gaudy wreath
Such strains of tender pity breathe,
So soft, so touching, so alluring,
All the wounds of Passion curing,
That maddening rage itself, subdued,
Listening stood, in melting mood!
And Folly, wondering at thy powers,
Dropp’d from her giddy hand her wreath ofpoisonous flowers!
I’ve seen thee, spurning solemn fools,
Mock the vaunted lore of schools;35 E2r 35
And laugh to scorn the pedant’s art,
That hides in Learning’s garb, the dull deceitfulheart!
I’ve seen thee, dress’d in awful pride,
With calm-brow’d Wisdom by thy side,
Unfolding precepts richly fraught
With sense acute! and depth of thought!
Decking the hoary front of Time
With many a sober wreath, sublime!
While Eloquence, her store unbound,
Scatter’d her fairest blossoms round!
And History, with recording finger, traced
Scenes by expiring Ignorance half-effaced;
Whilst thou from cold Oblivion’s cave
Led the pale shadows of the sainted brave!
Ah! then I’ve seen thee stamp each name
On the unperishable rolls of Fame!
And, smiling o’er the consecrated page,
Anticipate the boast of many a future age!
I’ve seen thee through the soul diffuse
Th’ electric fire that warms the muse!
When o’er the poet’s breast
Thou fling’st the sunny vest;
And stoop’st this throbbing brow to bind
With wings, to waft the soaring mind
Beyond the mists of mortal day!
While from thy piercing eye,
Resplendent as its parent sky,
A stream of light shot forth, to mark his glorious way!
Ah! lost to bliss are those,
Low-thoughted! dull of soul!
Who, plodding through life’s weedy woes,
Ne’er felt the thrilling power
That marks the intellectual hour;
Nor, where Pierian fountains roll,
Panted to taste the clear immortal wave
That heals the wounds of Fate, and flows beyond the grave!
O thou! whose sober precepts can control
The wild impatience of the troubled soul,
Sweet maid serene! whose all consoling power
Awakes to calm delight the lingering hour,
O! hear thy votary’s ardent prayer!
Chase from my anguish’d mind corroding care,
Steal through the burning pulses of my brain,
Calm sorrow to repose, and lull the throb of pain!
O, tell me, what are life’s best joys?
Are they not visions that decay,
Sweet honey’d poisons, gilded toys,
Vain glittering baubles of a day?
O say, what shadow do they leave behind,
Save the sad vacuum of a sated mind?
Borne on the eagle-wings of Fame,
Man soars above calm Reason’s sway,
Vaulting Ambition mocks each tender claim,
Plucks the dear bonds of social life away;
As o’er the vanquish’d slave she wields her spear,
Compassion turns aside—Reflection drops a tear.
Behold the wretch whose sordid heart,
Steep’d in Content’s oblivious balm,
Secure in Luxury’s bewitching calm,
Repels pale Misery’s touch, and mocks Affliction’s smart;
Unmoved he marks the bitter tear,
In vain the plaints of wo his thoughts assail,
The bashful mourner’s piteous tale
Nor melts his flinty soul, nor vibrates on his ear.
O blest Reflection! let thy magic power
Awake his torpid sense, his slumbering thought,
Tell him Adversity’s unpitied hour
A brighter lesson gives than stoics taught:
Tell him that wealth no blessing can impart
So sweet as Pity’s tear—that bathes the wounded heart.
Go tell the vain, the insolent, and fair,
That life’s best days are only days of care;
That Beauty, fluttering like a painted fly,
Owes to the spring of youth its transient die;
When winter comes, its charms shall fade away,
And the poor insect wither in decay:
Go bid the giddy phantom learn from thee,
That Virtue only braves mortality.
Then come, Reflection, soft-eyed maid!
I know thee, and I prize thy charms;
Come, in thy gentlest smiles array’d,
And I will press thee in my eager arms;
Keep from my aching heart the fiend Despair,
Snatch from my brow her thorn, and plant thy olive there.
Ode to Envy.
Deep in th’ abyss where frantic horror ’bides,
In thickest mists of vapours fell,
Where wily serpents hissing glare
And the dark demon of Revenge resides,36 E2v 36
At midnight’s murky hour
Thy origin began:
Rapacious Malice was thy sire;
Thy dam the sullen witch Despair;
Thy nurse, insatiate Ire.
The Fates conspired their ills to twine
About thy heart’s infected shrine;
They gave thee each disastrous spell,
Each desolating power,
To blast the fairest hopes of man.
Soon as thy fatal birth was known,
From her unhallow’d throne
With ghastly smile pale Hecate sprang;
Thy hideous form the sorceress press’d
With kindred fondness to her breast;
Her haggard eye
Shot forth a ray of transient joy,
While through the infernal shades exulting clamours rang.
Above thy fellow-fiends thy tyrant hand
Grasp’d with resistless force supreme command:
The vast terrific crowd
Before thy iron sceptre bow’d.
Now, seated in thy ebon cave,
About thy throne relentless furies rave;
A wreath of ever-wounding thorn
Thy scowling brows encompass round,
Thy heart by gnawing vultures torn,
Thy meagre limbs with deathless scorpions bound:
Thy black associates, torpid Ignorance,
And pining Jealousy—with eye askance,
With savage rapture execute thy will,
And strew the paths of life with every torturing ill.
Nor can the sainted dead escape thy rage;
Thy vengeance haunts the silent grave,
Thy taunts insult the ashes of the brave;
While proud Ambition weeps thy rancour to assuage.
The laurels round the poet’s bust,
Twined by the liberal hand of Taste,
By thy malignant grasp defaced,
Fade to their native dust:
Thy ever-watchful eye no labour tires,
Beneath thy venom’d touch the angel Truth expires.
When in thy petrifying car
The scaly dragons waft thy form,
Than, swifter, deadlier far
Than the keen lightning’s lance,
That wings its way across the yelling storm,
Thy barbed shafts fly whizzing round,
While every withering glance
Inflicts a cureless wound.
Thy giant-arm with ponderous blow
Hurls Genius from her glorious height,
Bends the fair front of Virtue low,
And meanly pilfers every pure delight.
Thy hollow voice the sense appals,
Thy vigilance the mind inthrals;
Rest hast thou none! By night, by day,
Thy jealous ardour seeks for prey—
Nought can restrain thy swift career;
Thy smile derides the sufferer’s wrongs;
Thy tongue the slanderer’s tale prolongs;
Thy thirst imbibes the victim’s tear;
Thy breast recoils from friendship’s flame;
Sickening thou hear’st the trump of Fame;
Worth gives to thee the direst pang;
The lover’s rapture wounds thy heart,
The proudest efforts of prolific art
Shrink from thy poisonous fang.
In vain the sculptor’s labouring hand
Calls fine proportion from the Parian stone;
In vain the minstrel’s chords command
The soft vibrations of seraphic tone;
For swift thy violating arm
Tears from perfection every charm:
Nor rosy Youth, nor Beauty’s smiles,
Thy unrelenting rage beguiles;
Thy breath contaminates the fairest name,
And binds the guiltless brow with ever-blistering shame.
Come, bright-eyed maid,
Pure offspring of the tranquil mind,
Haste, my feverish temples bind
With olive wreaths of emerald hue,
Steep’d in morn’s ethereal dew,
Where in mild Helvetia’s shade,
Blushing summer round her flings
Warm gales and sunny showers that hang upon her wings.
I’ll seek thee in Italia’s bowers,
Where, supine on beds of flowers,
Melody’s soul-touching throng
Strike the soft lute or trill the melting song:
Where blithe Fancy, queen of pleasure,
Pours each luxuriant treasure.
For thee I’ll climb the breezy hill,
While the balmy dews distil
Odours from the budding thorn,
Dropp’d from the lustrous lids of morn;
Who, starting from her shadowy bed,
Binds her gold fillet round the mountain’s head.37 E3r 37
There I’ll press from herbs and flowers
Juices bless’d with opiate powers,
Whose magic potency can heal
The throb of agonizing pain,
And through the purple swelling vein
With subtle influence steal:
Heaven opes for thee its aromatic store,
To bathe each languid gasping pore;
But where, O where, shall cherish’d sorrow find
The lenient balm to soothe the feeling mind.
O memory! busy barbarous foe,
At thy fell touch I wake to wo:
Alas, the flattering dream is o’er,
From thee the bright illusions fly,
Thou bidst the glittering phantoms die,
And Hope, and Youth, and Fancy, charm no more.
No more for me the tip-toe Spring
Drops flowerets from her infant wing;
For me in vain the wild thyme’s bloom
Through the forest flings perfume;
In vain I climb th’ embroider’d hill
To breathe the clear autumnal air;
In vain I quaff the lucid rill
Since jocund Health delights not there
To greet my heart:—no more I view,
With sparkling eye, the silvery dew
Sprinkling May’s tears upon the folded rose,
As low it droops its young and blushing head,
Press’d by grey twilight to its mossy bed:
No more I lave amidst the tide,
Or bound along the tufted grove,
Or o’er enamell’d meadows rove,
Where, on Zephyr’s pinions, glide
Salubrious airs that waft the day’s repose.
Lightly o’er the yellow heath
Steals thy soft and fragrant breath,
Breath inhaled from musky flowers,
Newly bath’d in perfumed showers.
See the rosy-finger’d morn
Opes her bright refulgent eye,
Hills and valleys to adorn,
While from her burning glance the scatter’d vapours fly.
Soon, ah soon! the painted scene,
The hill’s blue top, the valley’s green,
’Midst clouds of snow and whirlwinds drear,
Shall cold and comfortless appear:
The howling blast shall strip the plain,
And bid my pensive bosom learn,
Though Nature’s face shall smile again,
And on the glowing breast of spring
Creation all her gems shall fling,
Youth’s April-morn shall ne’er return.
Then come, Oh! quickly come, Hygeian maid!
Each throbbing pulse, each quivering nerve pervade.
Flash thy bright fires across my languid eye,
Tint my pale visage with thy roseate dye,
Bid my heart’s current own a temperate glow,
And from its crimson source in tepid channels flow.
O Health, celestial nymph! without thy aid
Creation sickens in oblivion’s shade:
Along the drear and solitary gloom
We steal on thorny footsteps to the tomb;
Youth, age, wealth, poverty, alike agree—
To live is anguish, when deprived of thee.
To thee indulgent Heaven benignly gave
The touch to heal, the ecstacy to save.
The balmy incense of thy fostering breath
Wafts the wan victim from the fangs of death,
Robs the grim tyrant of his trembling prize,
Cheers the faint soul, and lifts it to the skies.
Let not the gentle rose thy bounty drest
To meet the rising sun with perfumed breast,
Which glow’d with lustrous tints at noon-tide hour,
And shed soft tears upon each drooping flower,
With withering anguish mourn the parting day,
Shrink to the earth, and sorrowing fate away.
Insatiate tyrant of the mind,
Fantastic, aery, empty thing,
Borne on Illusion’s fluttering wing,
Fallacious as the wanton wind;
Capricious goddess!—Beauty’s foe;
Thou—who no settled home dost know;
The busy world, the sylvan plain,
Alike confess thy potent reign.
Queen of the motley garb—at thy command
Fashion waves her flowery wand;
See she kindles Fancy’s flame,
Around her dome thy incense flies,
The curling fumes ascend the skies,
And fill the Trump of Fame.
When Heaven’s translucent ray
Unveil’d the mighty work of God;
When the Promethean spark of day
Awoke his Image from a torpid clod;
When radiance pour’d on human sight,
And the illumined soul beam’d with celestial light;
Exulting man, sole Potentate below,
First felt thy poisonous glow;38 E3v 38
He gazed upon his wondrous frame;
The self-approving conscious flame
Thrill’d in each trembling vein with subtle art,
Then fix’d its baneful source within his godlike heart.
Thy breath accursed brought deathless wo
On man’s devoted race;
Hurl’d th’ aspiring Fiend to realms below,
Who, plunged in fell disgrace,
There, deep inthrall’d in adamantine spells,
In chains of scorpions bound, for ever, ever dwells.
In every scene of social joy,
Amidst the rude unpolish’d train,
From the low offspring of the barren plain,
To him whose lofty bosom owns
Descent sublime from scepter’d thrones,
All, all thy laws obey.
Thy light hand plumes the warrior’s brow,
Decks e’en fierce War with tinsel show,
E’en in the tented fields thy banners flow,
To thee illustrious chieftains bow;
’Tis thy capricious influence forms
All that mad ambition warms;
The laurel wreath, though steep’d in blood,
Placed by thy fickle hand, appears
Radiant as the sunny spheres,
When morn’s proud beams roll in a golden flood.
Ah, Vanity! avert thine eye;
Check thy fell exulting joy;
With burning drops thy flush’d cheek lave,
Nor gloat upon the carnaged brave;
For what can trophied wreaths supply,
To drown the desolating cry,
That, o’er th’empurpled fields afar,
Proclaims the dread-destructive power of war?
E’en amidst the savage race,
The untamed Indian owns thy sway;
For thee he paints his tawny face,
And decks his shaggy hair with fragments gay:
For thee he marks his sun-burnt breast,
With beads and feathers idly drest;—
His hardy limbs with glowing tints imbrued,
Reeking and mangled with the pointed dart,
Vainly he vaunts—nor heeds the smart,
Though pitying Nature weeps with tears of blood.
Then turn, my muse, where milder joys
The village hero’s mind employs;
Where gentler sports delight the breast,
And soften’d Nature smiles confest.
Let me paint the rural scene,
The white-wash’d hut—the velvet green
May’s blythe morn—exulting glee,
The chaplet pendant on each tree,
The shining hat with gaudy ribbands bound,
The lofty may-pole and the well-swept ground,
Where valiant combats speak the thirst of Fame,
And the loud shout proclaims the victor’s name.
O Vanity, thy potent reign
Spreads its influence o’er the plain—
For thee, the blushing maids prepare
Garlands wove with nicest care;
For thee, they dress their festive bowers
With waving wreaths of scented flowers,
Where the bold youth that wins the prize
Reads his best victory in his sweetheart’s eyes.
Such is thy power—thy mandate rules
Above the laws of pedant schools;
Reason in vain contends with thee,
Triumphant, deathless Vanity!
E’en now I feel thy vivid sparks infuse
A warmth that guides my hand, and bids me court the muse.
Sorceress of the cave profound!
Hence, with thy pale and meagre train,
Nor dare my roseate bower profane,
Where light-heel’d Mirth despotic reigns,
Slightly bound in feathery chains,
And scattering blisses round.
Hence, to thy native chaos—where,
Nursed by thy haggard dam, Despair,
Shackled by thy numbing spell,
Misery’s pallid children dwell;
Where, brooding o’er thy fatal charms,
Frenzy rolls the vacant eye;
Where hopeless Love, with folded arms,
Drops the tear, and heaves the sigh;
Till cherish’d Passion’s tyrant-sway
Chills the warm pulse of youth with premature decay.
O fly thee to some church-yard’s gloom,
Where, beside the mouldering tomb,
Restless spectres glide away,
Fading in the glimpse of day;
Or, where the virgin orb of night
Silvers o’er the forest wide,
Or across the silent tide,
Flings her soft and quivering light:39 E4r 39
Where, beneath some aged tree,
Sounds of mournful melody,
Caught from the nightingale’s enamour’d tale,
Steal on faint Echo’s ear, and float upon the gale.
Dread Power! whose touch magnetic leads
O’er enchanted spangled meads,
Where, by the glow-worm’s twinkling ray,
Aery spirits lightly play;
Where, around some haunted tower,
Boding ravens wing their flight,
Viewless in the gloom of night,
Warning oft the luckless hour;
Or, beside the murderer’s bed,
From thy dark and morbid wing,
O’er his feverish, burning head,
Drops of conscious anguish fling;
While freezing Horror’s direful scream
Rouses his guilty soul from kind oblivion’s dream.
Oft, beneath the witching yew.
The trembling maid steals forth unseen,
With true-love wreaths, of deathless green,
Her lover’s grave to strew;
Her downcast eye no joy illumes,
Nor on her cheek the soft rose blooms;
Her mourning heart, the victim of thy power,
Shrinks from the glare of mirth, and hails the murky hour.
O, say what fiend first gave thee birth,
In what fell desert wert thou born;
Why does thy hollow voice, forlorn,
So fascinate the sons of earth;
That, once encircled in thy icy arms,
They court thy torpid touch, and doat upon thy charms?
Hated imp—I brave thy spell,
Reason shuns thy barbarous sway;
Life with mirth should glide away,
Despondency with guilt should dwell;
For conscious Truth’s unruffled mien
Displays the dauntless eye and patient smile serene.
Terrific fiend! thou monster fell!
Condemn’d in haunts profane to dwell,
Why quit thy solitary home,
O’er wide creation’s paths to roam?
Pale tyrant of the timid heart,
Whose visionary spells can bind
The strongest passions of the mind,
Freezing life’s current with thy baneful art.
Nature recoils when thou art near,
For round thy form all plagues are seen;
Thine is the frantic tone, the sullen mien,
The glance of petrifying fear,
The haggard brow, the lowering eye,
The hollow cheek, the smother’d sigh;
When thy usurping fangs assail,
The sacred bonds of Friendship fail.
Meek-bosom’d Pity sues in vain;
Imperious Sorrow spurns relief,
Feeds on the luxury of Grief,
Drinks the hot tear, and hugs the galling chain.
Ah! plunge no more thy ruthless dart
In the dark centre of the guilty heart;
The Power Supreme, with pitying eye,
Looks on the erring child of Misery;
Mercy arrests the wing of Time,
To expiate the wretch’s crime:
Insulted Heaven consign’d thy brand
To the first murderer’s crimson hand.
Swift o’er the earth the monster flew,
And round th’ ensanguined poisons threw,
By Conscience goaded—driven by Fear,
Till the meek cherub Hope subdued his fell career.
Thy reign is past, when erst the brave
Imbibed contagion o’er the midnight lamp,
Close pent in loathsome cells, where poisons damp
Hung round the confines of a living grave; The Bastile.
Where no glimmering ray illumed
The flinty walls, where ponderous chains
Bound the wan victim to the humid earth,
Where Valour, Genius, Taste, and Worth,
In pestilential caves entomb’d,
Sought thy cold arms, and smiling mock’d their pains.
There,—each procrastinated hour,
The wo-worn sufferer gasping lay,
While by his side in proud array
Stalk’d the huge fiend, Despotic Power.
There Reason closed her radiant eye,
And fainting Hope retired to die,
Truth shrunk appall’d,
In spells of icy Apathy inthrall’d;
Till Freedom spurn’d the ignominious chain,
And, roused from Superstition’s night,
Exulting Nature claim’d her right,
And call’d dire Vengeance from her dark domain.
Now take thy solitary flight
Amid the turbid gales of night,
Where spectres, starting from the tomb,
Glide along th’ impervious gloom;
Or, stretch’d upon the sea-beat shore,
Let the wild winds, as they roar,40 E4v 40
Rock thee on thy bed of stone;
Or, in gelid caverns pent,
Listen to the sullen moan
Of subterraneous winds;—or glut thy sight
Where stupendous mountains, rent,
Hurl their vast fragments from their dizzy height.
At thy approach the rifted pine
Shall o’er the shatter’d rock incline,
Whose trembling brow, with wild weeds drest,
Frowns on the tawny eagle’s nest;
There enjoy the ’witching hour,
And freeze in Frenzy’s dire conceit,
Or seek the screech-owl’s lone retreat,
On the bleak rampart of some nodding tower.
In some forest long and drear,
Tempt the fierce banditti’s rage,
War with famish’d tigers wage,
And bathe in blood, and mock the taunts of fear.
When across the yawning deep
The demons of the Tempest sweep,
Or deafening Thunders bursting cast
Their red bolts on the shivering mast,
While fix’d below the sea-boy stands,
As threatening Death his soul dismays,
He lifts his supplicating hands,
And shrieks, and groans, and weeps, and prays,
Till, lost amid the floating fire,
The agonizing crew expire;
Then let thy transports rend the air,
For maddening Anguish feeds the fiend Despair!
When o’er the couch of pale disease
The mother bends with tearful eye,
And trembles, lest her quivering sigh
Should wake the darling of her breast—
Now, by the taper’s feeble rays,
She steals a last, fond, eager gaze.
Ah, hapless parent! gaze no more,
Thy Cherub soars among the blest,
Life’s crimson fount begins to freeze,
His transitory scene is o’er—
She starts—she raves—her burning brain
Consumes, unconscious of its fires;
Dead to the heart’s convulsive pain,
Bewilder’d memory retires.
See! See! she grasps her flowing hair,
From her fix’d eye the big drops roll,
Her proud affliction mocks control,
And riots in despair—
Such are thy haunts, malignant Power!
There all thy murderous poison shower;
But come not near my calm retreat,
Where Peace and holy Friendship meet;
Where Science sheds a gentle ray,
And guiltless Mirth beguiles the day,
Where Bliss congenial to the Muse
Shall round my heart her sweets diffuse,
Where, from each restless passion free,
I give my noiseless hours, bless’d Poesy, to thee.
To the Snow-Drop. From Walsingham, a Novel, in 4 vols. by the same Author.
The Snow-drop, Winter’s timid child,
Awakes to life, bedew’d with tears,
And flings around its fragrance mild;
And where no rival flowerets bloom,
Amidst the bare and chilling gloom,
A beauteous gem appears!
All weak and wan, with head inclined,
Its parent-breast the drifted snow,
It trembles, while the ruthless wind
Bends its slim form; the tempest lowers,
Its emerald eye drops crystal showers
On its cold bed below.
Poor flower! on thee the sunny beam
No touch of genial warmth bestows
Except to thaw the icy stream
Whose little current purls along,
And whelms thee as it flows.
The night-breeze tears thy silky dress,
Which deck’d with silvery lustre shone;
The morn returns, not thee to bless.—
The gaudy Crocus flaunts its pride,
And triumphs where its rival—died
Unshelter’d and unknown!
No sunny beam shall gild thy grave,
No bird of pity thee deplore:
There shall no verdant branches wave,
For spring shall all her gems unfold,
And revel ’midst her beds of gold,
When thou art seen no more!
Where’er I find thee, gentle flower,
Thou still art sweet, and dear to me!
For I have known the cheerless hour,
Have seen the sun-beams cold and pale,
Have felt the chilling, wintry gale,
And wept, and shrunk like thee!
To the Nightingale.
Sweet bird of sorrow!—why complain
In such soft melody of song?
That echo, amorous of thy strain,
The lingering cadence doth prolong.
Ah! tell me, tell me, why
Thy dulcet notes ascend the sky,
Or on the filmy vapours glide
Along the misty mountain’s side!
And wherefore dost thou love to dwell
In the dark wood and moss-grown cell?
Beside the willow-margin’d stream—
Why dost thou court wan Cynthia’s beam?
Sweet songstress—if thy wayward fate
Hath robb’d thee of thy bosom’s mate,
Oh! think not thy heart-piercing moan
Evaporates on the breezy air,
Or that the plaintive song of care
Steals from thy widow’d breast alone.
Oft have I heard thy mournful tale,
On the high cliff, that o’er the vale
Hangs its hard brow, whose awful shade
Spreads a dark gloom along the glade:
Led by its sound, I’ve wander’d far,
Till crimson evening’s flaming star
On Heaven’s vast dome refulgent hung,
And round ethereal vapours flung;
And oft I’ve sought th’Hygeian maid,
In rosy dimpling smiles array’d,
Till, forced with every hope to part,
Resistless pain subdued my heart.
Oh then, far o’er the restless deep
Forlorn my poignant pangs I bore,
Alone in foreign realms to weep,
Where Envy’s voice could taunt no more.
I hoped, by mingling with the gay,
To snatch the veil of Grief away;
I hoped, amid the joyous train,
To break affliction’s ponderous chain;
Vain was the hope—in vain I sought
The placid hour of careless thought;
Where Fashion wing’d her light career,
And sportive pleasure danced along,
Oft have I shunn’d the blithesome throng,
To hide the involuntary tear;
For e’en where rapturous transports glow,
From the full heart the conscious tear will flow.
When to my downy couch removed,
Fancy recall’d my wearied mind
To scenes of friendship left behind,
Scenes still regretted, still beloved!
Ah! then I felt the pangs of grief
Grasp my warm heart, and mock relief;
My burning lids sleep’s balm defied,
And on my feverish lip imperfect murmurs died.
Restless and sad—I sought once more
A calm retreat on Britain’s shore;
Deceitful hope! e’en there I found
That soothing friendship’s specious name
Was but a short-lived empty sound
And love a false delusive flame.
Then come, sweet bird, and with thy strain
Steal from my breast the thorn of pain;
Blest solace of my lonely hours,
In craggy caves and silent bowers:
When happy mortals seek repose,
By night’s pale lamp we’ll chant our woes,
And, as her chilling tears diffuse
O’er the white thorn their silvery dews,
I’ll with the lucid boughs entwine
A weeping wreath, which round my head
Shall by the waning crescent shine,
And light us to our leafy bed.—
Yet, ah! nor leafy beds nor bowers
Fringed with soft May’s enamell’d flowers,
Nor pearly leaves, nor Cynthia’s beams,
Nor smiling Pleasure’s shadowy dreams—
Sweet bird, not e’en thy melting strains—
Can calm the heart where tyrant sorrow reigns.
To the Nightingale.
Blest be thy song, sweet nightingale,
Lorn minstrel of the lonely vale!
Where oft I’ve heard thy dulcet strain
In mournful melody complain
When in the poplar’s trembling shade
At evening’s purple hour I’ve stray’d,
While many a silken folded flower
Wept on its couch of gossamer,
And many a time in pensive mood
Upon the upland mead I’ve stood,
To mark grey twilight’s shadows glide
Along the green hill’s velvet side;
To watch the perfumed hand of morn
Hang pearls upon the silver thorn,
Till rosy day with lustrous eye
In saffron mantle deck’d the sky,
And bound the mountain’s brow with fire,
And tinged with gold the village spire,
While o’er the frosted vale below
The amber tints began to glow:
And oft I seek the daisied plain
To greet the rustic nymph and swain,
When cowslips gay their bells unfold
And flaunt their leaves of glittering gold,
While from the blushes of the rose
A tide of musky essence flows,
And o’er the odour-breathing flowers
The woodlands shed their diamond showers;F 42 F1v 42
When from the scented hawthorn bud
The blackbird sips the lucid flood,
While oft the twittering thrush essays
To emulate the linnet’s lays;
While the poized lark her carol sings,
And butterflies expand their wings,
And bees begin their sultry toils
And load their limbs with luscious spoils,
I stroll along the pathless vale,
And smile, and bless thy soothing tale.
But ah! when hoary winter chills
The plumy race—and wraps the hills
In snowy vest, I tell my pains
Beside the brook, in icy chains,
Bound its weedy banks between,
While sad I watch night’s pensive queen,
Just emblem of my weary woes;
For ah! where’er the virgin goes,
Each floweret greets her with a tear
To sympathetic sorrow dear;
And when in black obtrusive clouds,
The vestal meek her pale cheek shrouds,
I mark the twinkling starry train
Exulting glitter in her wane,
And proudly gleam their borrow’d light
To gem the sombre dome of night.
Then o’er the meadows cold and bleak
The glow-worm’s glimmering lamp I seek,
Or climb the craggy cliff, to gaze
On some bright planet’s azure blaze,
And o’er the dizzy height inclined
I listen to the passing wind,
That loves my mournful song to seize,
And bears it to the mountain breeze.
Or where, the sparry caves among,
Dull echo sits with aery tongue,
Or gliding on the zephyr’s wings
From hill to hill her cadence flings,
O then my melancholy tale
Dies on the bosom of the gale,
While awful stillness, reigning round,
Blanches my cheek with chilling fear;
Till, from the bushy dell profound,
The woodman’s song salutes mine ear.
When dark November’s boisterous breath
Sweeps the blue hill and desert heath,
When naked trees their white tops wave
O’er many a famish’d redbreast’s grave,
When many a clay-built cot lies low
Beneath the growing hills of snow;
Soon as the shepherd’s silvery head
Peeps from his tottering straw-roof’d shed,
To hail the glimmering glimpse of day—
With feeble steps he ventures forth,
Chill’d by the bleak breath of the north,
And to the forest bends his way,
To gather from the frozen ground
Each branch of the night-blast scatter’d round—
If in some bush o’erspread with snow
He hears thy moaning wail of wo,
A flush of warmth his cheek o’erspreads,
With anxious timid care he treads,
And when his cautious hands infold
Thy little breast benumb’d with cold,
Come, plaintive fugitive, he cries,
While Pity dims his aged eyes,
Come to my glowing heart, and share
My narrow cell, my humble fare;
Tune thy sweet carol—plume thy wing,
And quaff with me the limpid spring,
And peck the crumbs my meals supply,
And round my rushy pillow fly.
O, minstrel sweet, whose jocund lay
Can make e’en poverty look gay,
Who can the humblest swain inspire
And, while he fans his scanty fire,
When o’er the plain rough winter pours
Nocturnal blasts and whelming showers,
Canst through his little mansion fling
The rapturous melodies of spring—
To thee with eager gaze I turn,
Blest solace of the aching breast!
Each gaudy glittering scene I spurn,
And sigh for solitude and rest.
Exulting beauty!—phantom of an hour,
Whose magic spells enchain the heart,
Ah! what avails thy fascinating power,
Thy thrilling smile, thy witching art?
Thy lip, where balmy nectar glows;
Thy cheek, where round the damask rose
A thousand nameless graces move;
Thy mildly-speaking azure eyes,
Thy golden hair, where cunning Love
In many a mazy ringlet lies?
Soon as thy radiant form is seen,
Thy native blush, thy timid mien,
Thy hour is past—thy charms are vain!
Ill-nature haunts thee with her sallow train,
Mean Jealousy deceives thy listening ear,
And Slander stains thy cheek with many a bitter tear.
In calm retirement form’d to dwell,
Nature, thy handmaid fair and kind,
For thee a beauteous garland twined;
The vale-nursed lily’s downcast bell43 F2r 43
Thy modest mien display’d,
The snow-drop, April’s meekest child,
With myrtle blossoms undefiled,
Thy spotless mind pourtray’d.
Dear blushing maid of cottage birth,
’Twas thine o’er dewy meads to stray
While sparkling Health, and frolic Mirth,
Led on thy laughing day.
Lured by the babbling tongue of Fame,
Too soon insidious Flattery came;
Flush’d Vanity her footsteps led,
To charm thee from repose,
While Fashion twined about thy head
A wreath of wounding woes;
See Dissipation smoothly glide,
Cold Apathy, and puny Pride,
Capricious Fortune, dull and blind,
O’er splendid Folly throws her veil,
While Envy’s meagre tribe assail
Thy gentle form and spotless mind.
Their spells prevail! no more those eyes
Shoot undulating fires;
On thy wan cheek the young rose dies,
Thy lip’s deep tint expires;
Dark Melancholy chills thy mind,
Thy silent tear reveals thy wo;
Time strews with thorns thy mazy way;
Where’er thy giddy footsteps stray,
Thy thoughtless heart is doom’d to find
An unrelenting foe.
’Tis thus the infant forest flower,
Bespangled o’er with glittering dew,
At breezy morn’s refreshing hour,
Displays its tints of varying hue,
Beneath an aged oak’s wide spreading shade,
Where no rude winds or beating storms invade.
Transplanted from its lonely bed,
No more it scatters perfumes round,
No more it rears its modest head,
Or gayly paints the mossy ground;
For ah! the beauteous bud, too soon,
Scorch’d by the burning eye of day,
Shrinks from the sultry glare of noon,
Droops its enamell’d brow, and, blushing, dies away.
Hail! Goddess of persuasive art!
The magic of whose tuneful tongue
Lulls to soft harmony the wandering heart
With fascinating song;
O let me hear thy heaven-taught strain,
As through my quivering pulses steal
The mingling throbs of joy and pain,
Which only sensate minds can feel.
Ah! let me taste the bliss supreme
Which thy warm touch unerring flings
O’er the rapt sense’s finest strings,
When Genius, darting from the sky,
Glances across my wondering eye
Her animating beam.
Sweet Eloquence! thy mild control
Awakes to Reason’s dawn the idiot soul;
When mists absorb the mental sight,
’Tis thine to dart creative light;
’Tis thine to chase the filmy clouds away,
And o’er the mind’s deep gloom spread a refulgent ray.
Nor is thy wondrous art confined
Within the bounds of mental space,
For thou canst boast exterior grace,
Bright emblem of the fertile mind;
Yes; I have seen thee, with persuasion meek,
Bathe in the lucid tear on Beauty’s cheek;
Have mark’d thee in the downcast eye,
When suffering Virtue claim’d the pitying sigh.
Oft by thy thrilling voice subdued,
The meagre fiend Ingratitude
Her treacherous fang conceals;
Pale Envy hides her forked sting;
And Calumny beneath the wing
Of dark oblivion steals.
Before thy pure and lambent fire
Shall frozen Apathy expire;
Thy influence, warm and unconfined,
Shall rapturous transports give,
And in the base and torpid mind
Shall bid the fine affections live.
When Jealousy’s malignant dart
Strikes at the fondly-throbbing heart;
When fancied woes on every side assail,
Thy honey’d accents shall prevail;
When burning Passion withers up the brain,
And the fix’d lids the glowing drops sustain,
Touch’d by thy voice, the melting eye
Shall pour the balm of yielding Sympathy.
’Tis thine with lenient song to move
The dumb despair of hopeless Love;
Or when the animated soul
On Fancy’s wing shall soar,
And, scorning Reason’s soft control,
Untrodden paths explore,
Till, by distracting conflicts toss’d,
The intellectual source is lost;44 F2v 44
E’en then, the witching music of thy tongue,
Stealing through Misery’s darkest gloom,
Weaves the fine threads of Fancy’s loom,
Till every slacken’d nerve, new strung,
Bids renovated Nature shine,
Amidst thy fostering beams, oh! Eloquence divine.
To the Moon.
Pale Goddess of the witching hour!
Blest Contemplation’s placid friend!
Oft in my solitary bower
I mark thy lucid beam
From thy crystal car descend,
Whitening the spangled heath and limpid sapphire stream.
And oft amidst the shades of night
I court thy undulating light;
When fairies dance around the verdant ring,
Or, sportive, frisk beside the bubbling spring;
When the thoughtless shepherd’s song
Echoes through the silent air,
While he pens his fleecy care,
Or plods with sauntering gait the dewy meads along.
Chaste orb! as through the vaulted sky
Feathery clouds transparent sail;
When thy languid, weeping eye
Sheds its soft tears upon the painted vale;
As sad I ponder o’er the rising floods,
Or tread with listless step th’ embowering woods,
O let thy soft, though transitory beam,
Soothe my sad mind with Fancy’s aery dream.
Wrapt in reflection, let me trace,
Around the vast ethereal space,
Stars, whose twinkling fires illume
Dark-brow’d Night’s obtrusive gloom;
Where, across the concave wide,
Flaming meteors swiftly glide;
Or, along the milky way,
Vapours shoot a silvery ray;
And as I mark thy faint reclining head,
Sinking on ocean’s glassy bed,
Let Reason tell my soul, thus all things fade;
The seasons change, the gaudy sun,
When day’s burning car hath run
Its fiery course, no more we view,
While o’er the mountain’s golden head,
Streak’d with tints of crimson hue,
Twilight’s filmy curtains spread,
Stealing o’er Nature’s face, a desolating shade.
Yon musky flower, that scents the earth;
The sod, that gave its odours birth;
The rock, that breaks the torrent’s force;
The vale, that owns its wandering course;
The woodlands, where the vocal throng
Trill the wild melodious song;
Thirsty deserts, sands that glow,
Mountains, capp’d with flaky snow;
Luxuriant groves, enamell’d fields,
All that prolific Nature yields,
Alike shall end; the sensate heart,
With all its passions, all its fire,
Touch’d by Fate’s unerring dart,
Shall feel its vital strength expire;
Those eyes, that beam with Friendship’s ray,
And glance ineffable delight,
Shall shrink from Life’s translucid day,
And close their fainting orbs in Death’s impervious night.
Then what remains for mortal power,
But Time’s dull journey to beguile;
To deck with joy the winged hour,
To meet its sorrows with a patient smile;
And when the toilsome pilgrimage shall end,
To greet the tyrant as a welcome friend.
Sweet child of Reason! maid serene!
With folded arms and pensive mien;
Who, wandering near yon thorny wild,
So oft my lengthening hours beguiled;
Thou who, within thy peaceful cell,
Canst laugh at life’s tumultuous care,
While calm Repose delights to dwell
On beds of fragrant roses there;
Where meek-eyed Patience waits to greet
The wo-worn traveller’s weary feet,
Till by her bless’d and cheering ray
The clouds of sorrow fade away;
Where conscious Rectitude retires;
Instructive Wisdom; calm Desires;
Prolific Science—labouring Art;
And Genius, with expanded heart.
Far from thy lone and pure domain
Steals pallid Guilt, whose scowling eye
Marks the rack’d soul’s convulsive pain,
Though hid beneath the mask of joy;
Maddening Ambition’s dauntless band;
Lean Avarice with iron hand;
Hypocrisy with fawning tongue;
Soft Flattery with persuasive song;
Appall’d, in gloomy shadows fly,
From Meditation’s piercing eye.
How oft with thee I ’ve stroll’d unseen
O’er the lone valley’s velvet green;
And brush’d away the twilight dew
That stain’d the cowslip’s golden hue;
Oft, as I ponder’d o’er the scene,
Would memory picture to my heart
How full of grief my days have been,
How swiftly rapturous hours depart!
Then wouldst thou, sweetly reasoning, say,
Time journeys through the roughest day.
The hermit, from the world retired,
By calm Religion’s voice inspired,
Tells how serenely time glides on,
From crimson morn, till setting sun;
How guiltless, pure, and free from strife,
He journeys through the vale of life;
Within his breast nor sorrows mourn,
Nor cares perplex, nor passions burn;
No jealous fears or boundless joys,
The tenor of his mind destroys;
And when revolving memory shows
The thorny world’s unnumber’d woes,
He blesses Heaven’s benign decree,
That gave his days to peace and thee.
The gentle maid whose roseate bloom
Fades fast within a cloister’s gloom,
Far by relentless Fate removed
From all her youthful fancy loved—
When her warm heart no longer bleeds,
And cool Reflection’s hour succeeds,
Led by the downy hand, she strays
Along the green dell’s tangled maze;
Where through dank leaves the whispering showers
Awake to life the fainting flowers;
Absorb’d by thee, she hears no more
The distant torrent’s deafening roar;
The well-known vesper’s silver tone;
The bleak wind’s desolating moan;
No more she sees the nodding spires,
Where the lone bird of night retires,
While Echo chants her boding song
The cloister’s mouldering walls among;
No more she weeps at Fate’s decree,
But yields her pensive soul to thee.
The sage whose palsied head bends low
’Midst scatter’d locks of silvery snow,
Still by his mind’s clear lustre tells
What warmth within his bosom dwells;
How glows his heart with treasured lore,
How rich in Wisdom’s boundless store:
In fading life’s protracted hour,
He smiles at death’s terrific power;
He lifts his radiant eyes, which gleam
With resignation’s saomted beam;
And, as the weeping star of morn
Sheds lustre on the wither’d thorn,
His tear benign calm comfort throws
O’er rugged life’s corroding woes;
His pious soul’s enlighten’d rays
Dart forth, to gild his wintry days;
He smiles serene at Heaven’s decree,
And his last hour resigns to thee.
When learning, with Promethean art
Unveils to light the youthful heart;
When on the richly-budding spray
The glorious beams of Genius play;
When the expanded leaves proclaim
The promised fruits of ripening Fame;
O Meditation, maid divine!
Proud Reason owns the work is thine.
Oft have I known thy magic power
Irradiate sorrow’s wintry hour;
Oft my full heart to thee hath flown,
And wept for miseries not its own;
When shrewd Hypocrisy has wound
In dulcet tones my soul around,
While Art, concealed in specious guise,
Pour’d Passion’s tear and Pity’s sighs;
When, cold Ingratitude was seen
Beneath Affection’s gentlest mien;
When, pinch’d with agonizing Pain,
My restless bosom dared complain;
Oft have I sunk upon thy breast,
And lull’d my weary mind to rest;
Till I have own’d the blest decree,
That gave my soul to peace and thee.
Transcendent valour!—godlike power!
Lord of the dauntless breast, and steadfast mien!
Who robed in majesty sublime,
Sat in thy eagle wafted car,
And led the hardy sons of war,
With head erect, and eye serene,
Amidst the arrowy shower;
When, unsubdued, from clime to clime,
Young Ammon taught exulting Fame
O’er earth’s vast space to sound the glories of thy name.
Illustrious Valour! from whose glance
Each recreant passion shrinks dismay’d;
To whom benignant Heaven consign’d
All that can elevate the mind;
’Tis thine, in radiant worth array’d,
To rear thy glittering helmet high,
And with intrepid front defy
Stern Fate’s uplifted arm and desolating lance.
When, from the chaos of primæval night,
This wondrous orb first sprung to light,
And, poized amid the sphery clime
By strong attraction’s power sublime,
Its whirling course began;
With sacred spells encompass’d round,
Each element observed its bound,
Earth’s solid base huge promontories bore;
Curb’d ocean roar’d, clasp’d by the rocky shore;
And ’midst metallic fires translucent rivers ran.
All nature own’d th’ Omnipotent’s command!
Luxuriant blessings deck’d the vast domain;
He bade the budding branch expand,
And from the teeming ground call’d forth the cherish’d grain;
Salubrious springs from flinty caverns drew;
Enamell’d verdure o’er the landscape threw;
He taught the scaly host to glide,
Sportive, amidst the limpid tide;
His breath sustain’d the eagle’s wing;
With vocal sounds bade hills and valleys ring;
Then, with his Word supreme, awoke to birth
The human form sublime—the sovereign lord of earth!
Valour! thy pure and sacred flame
Diffused its radiance o’er his mind;
From thee he learnt the fiery steed to tame,
And with a flowery band the speckled pard to bind;
Guarded by Heaven’s eternal shield,
He taught each living thing to yield;
Wondering yet undismay’d he stood
To mark the sun’s fierce fires decay;
Fearless he saw the tiger play,
While at his stedfast gaze the lion couch’d subdued.
When, fading in the grasp of death,
Illustrious Wolfe on earth’s cold bosom lay;
His anxious soldiers, thronging round,
Bathed with their tears each gushing wound;
As on his pallid lip the fleeting breath
In faint and broken accents stole away,
Loud shouts of triumph fill’d the skies,
To Heaven he raised his grateful eyes,
’Tis Victory’s voice! the hero cried,
thank thee, bounteous Heaven! then smiling died!
When erst on Calpe’s rock stern Victory stood,
Hurling swift vengeance o’er the bounding flood,
Each winged bolt illumed a flame,
Iberia’s vaunting sons to tame,
While o’er the foaming troubled deep
The blasts of desolation flew,
Fierce lightnings, hovering round the frowning steep,
’Midst the wild waves their fatal arrows threw;
Loud roar’d the cannon’s voice with ceaseless ire,
While the vast bulwark glow’d a pyramid of fire!
Then, in each Briton’s gallant breast,
Benignant Virtue shone confess’d!
While Death spread wide his direful reign,
And shrieks of horror echoed o’er the main,
Eager they plunged their sinking foes to save
From the dread precincts of a whelming grave!
Then, Valour, was thy proudest hour!
Then didst thou, like a radiant god,
Check the stern rigours of th’ avenging rod,
And with soft Mercy’s hand subdue the scourge of power.
To the Memory of My Lamented Father,
Who died in the service of the Empress of Russia, 1786-12-05December 5, 1786.
Oh! Sire revered! adored!
Was it the solemn tongue of Death,
That, whispering to my pensive ear,
Pronounced the fatal word
Which bathed my cheek with many a tear,
And stopp’d, awhile, my gasping breath?
He toils no more!
Far on a foreign shore
His honour’d dust a laurel’d grave receives,
While his immortal soul in realms celestial lives!
Oh! my loved sire, farewell!
Though we are doom’d on earth to meet no more,
Still Memory lives, and still I must deplore!
And long this throbbing heart shall mourn,
Though thou to these sad eyes wilt ne’er return!
Yet shall remembrance dwell
On all thy sorrows through life’s stormy sea,
When Fate’s resistless whirlwinds shed
Unnumber’d tempests round thy head,
The varying ills of human destiny!
Yet, with a soul sublimely brave,
Didst thou endure the dashing wave;
Still buffeting the billows rude,
By all the shafts of wo undaunted, unsubdued!
Through a long life of rugged care,
’Twas thine to steer a steady course!
’Twas thine Misfortune’s frowns to bear,
And stem the wayward torrent’s force!
And as thy persevering mind
The toilsome path of Fame pursued,
’Twas thine, amidst its flowers, to find
The wily snake—Ingratitude!
Yet vainly did th’ insidious reptile strive
On thee its poisons dire to fling;
Above its reach, thy laurel still shall thrive,
Unconscious of the treacherous sting!
’Twas thine to toil through lengthening years
Where lowering night absorbs the spheres!
Thy warmly enterprising mind
Nor fear, nor sordid hopes could bind;
For bold ambition warm’d thy breast,
And lured thee from inglorious rest,
O’er icy seas to bend thy way,
Where frozen Greenland rears its head,
Where dusky vapours shroud the day,
And wastes of flaky snow the stagnant ocean spread!
’Twas thine, amidst the smoke of war,
To view, unmoved, grim-fronted Death;
Where Fate, enthroned in sulphur’d car,
Shrunk the pale legions with her scorching breath!
While, all around her, bathed in blood,
Iberia’s The author’s father was the first man who landed at the rock of Gibraltar, in 17831783, and had the honour of receiving a congratulatory embrace from General Elliot, afterwards Lord Heathfield. haughty sons plunged lifeless ’midst the flood!
Now, on the wings of Meditation borne,
Let fond Remembrance turn, and turn to mourn:
Slowly and sad, her lengthening pinions sweep,
O’er the rough bosom of the boisterous deep,
To that disastrous, fatal coast,
Where, on the foaming billows tost,
Imperial Catharine’s navies rode;
And War’s inviting banners wide
Waved hostile o’er the glittering tide
That with exulting conquest glow’d!
For there, oh sorrow! check the tear!
There, round departed Valour’s bier,
The sacred drops of kindred Virtue Captain Darby commanded, at the time of his death, a ship of war in the Russian service, and was buried with military honours, universally lamented. shone!
Proud monuments of worth! whose base
Fame on her starry hill shall place;
There to endure, admired, sublime!
E’en when the mouldering wing of Time
Shall scatter to the winds huge pyramids of stone!
Oh, gallant soul, farewell!
Though doom’d this transient orb to leave,
Thy daughter’s heart, whose grief no words can tell,
Shall, in its throbbing centre, bid thee live;
While from its crimson fount shall flow
The silent tear of lingering grief;
The gem sublime that scorns relief,
Nor vaunting shines with ostentations wo!
Though thou art vanish’d from these eyes,
Still from thy sacred dust shall rise
A wreath that mocks the polish’d thought,
The sculptured bust, the poet’s praise,
While Fame shall weeping guard the spot
Where Valour’s dauntless son decays!
Unseen to cherish Memory’s source divine,
Oh, parent of my life! shall still be mine!
And thou shalt, from thy blissful state,
Awhile avert thy raptured gaze,
To own, that, ’midst this wildering maze,
The flame of filial love survives the blast of fate!
Dread child of Erebus! whose power
Sheds horror o’er the darken’d world;
While ghosts, with winding-sheets unfurl’d,
Welcome the murky hour!
While Conscience, like a coward base,
Awakes to maddening fear;
When not a breathing thing is near
The records of the wounded mind to trace!
Of thee I sing, in sable sadness drest,
While happier mortals dream, and pain and sorrow rest.
I hail thee now, while, o’er each glimmering star,
Triumphant in thy viewless car,
Thou sail’st across th’ eternal dome,
Scattering around thee thick wove gloom.
The whirling orb its course pursues;
But oh! how mournfully obscure!
Where are its lustres, and its hues,
Its mountains, vales, and rivers pure?
Enveloped in the black obtrusive shade,
Oblivion grasps the scene, and all its beauties fade.
Now, seated on thy ebon tower,
Lord of the solitary hour!
Thou spreadst thy raven pinions wide,
Creation’s vanquish’d charms to hide!
And when the meek moon’s crystal eye
Gleams on the sable forehead of the sky,48 F4v 48
Thou bidd’st each envious passing cloud
Her beamy crescent faintly shroud,
That o’er the lurid space
Thy million eyes may trace
The den where haggard Guilt retires,
To hold fierce converse with the demons fell,
Link’d in thy fatal spell!
And while each twinkling star expires,
The wild winds shake the distant spheres,
And Nature hides her face, bedew’d with chilling tears!
Thou strict examiner of human thought!
When the bright taper’s brilliant ray,
Through the long painted hall, and marble dome,
Sheds artificial day;
Thou com’st with all thy horrors fraught,
To beckon forth the guilty soul,
And bend each stubborn nerve to thy supreme control!
Oh Night! thou spectre bold!
Thou parent of heart-chilling fear!
Thou canst each hidden thought unfold;
For Conscience will be heard when thou art near!
And when the cheerful day
And all its raptures fade away,
The tyrant shuns his blood-stain’d throne,
Deck’d in the tinsel pageantry of show,
And, on his regal couch, alone,
Resigns his breast to silent wo:
Ah! then, he traces back the hour,
When, by ambition led,
Devoted legions bled,
To lengthen a small span of transitory power!
Then fancy paints the poorest swain,
That, on the bleak and barren plain,
In his low cottage sinks to rest,
Celestial peace the partner of his breast;
Who, led by cheerful labour to repose,
Finds his rude pillow strew’d with many a thornless rose.
Oh! horrid Night!
Thou prying monitor confest!
Whose key unlocks the human breast,
And bears each avenue to mental sight!
When from the festive bower
The frenzied homicide retreats,
And, in his bosom’s cell,
Essays each rising throb to quell;
Thy penetrating power
His sense with many a phantom greets;
He rushes forth in wild amaze!
While down his brow the big drop strays;
Then, from thy mist opaque,
Deep groans assail his startled ears,
His limbs convulsed with horror shake,
And the short feverish hour,
Such is thy dreadful power,
An age of agonizing wo appears;
For sleep the vengeful fiends deride,
Till the blest sun darts forth to bid thy reign subside!
How glorious is the eastern sky!
The warm tints rushing o’er the blue serene,
O’er the tall mountain morn’s effulgent eye
Diffuses wide the renovated scene!
The silvery dew-drops, scatter’d round,
Spangle the variegated ground;
Or dress the waving woods in glittering pride,
Or down the silky leaves in bright succession glide.
Then the sultry noon appears,
Absorbing Nature’s lingering tears;
While o’er the thyme-clad heath,
Faint with its scorching breath,
The flocks and herds to covert move;
The sun-burnt hind suspends his toil,
And, plodding o’er the thirsty soil,
Seeks the green sod and cool embowering grove;
The murmuring river lulls his mind to rest,
While the soft southern breeze steals lightly o’er his breast!
Now, pensive hour,
Calm-bosom’d Evening, thee I hail!
While o’er the perfumed bower
Thy balmy breathings gently sail;
Meek handmaid of sublime repose,
From whose calm eye the soft tear flows!
As o’er the landscape’s glowing breast
Thou fling’st thy purple vest;
While in the western spheres
Day’s streamy radiance slowly fades,
Till, wrapp’d in dusky shades,
The pale horizon scarce appears;
And as the melodies of Nature fail,
The sullen beetle, humming near,
Obtrudes upon thy pensive ear,
That listens to the mournful nightingale,
The tangled dells and sparry rocks among,
Where, to the rising moon, she pours her lovelorn song!
Then, dark-brow’d Night, thou com’st again,
With all thy melancholy train;
While bats expand their leathern wings,
And owls forsake their ivy’d home,
O’er the blank solitude to roam;
And the small cricket sings,
Near the dim embers of the cottage fire,
To warm the village maid with omens sad and dire!49 G1r 49
Yet art thou not to my rapt breast
A dread, unwelcome, startling guest;
For when I quit the trifling throng,
To me, O solitary Night!
Thou bring’st the soothing calm delight,
Which charms my pensive heart and wakes the Muse’s song!
Fly, dark Despondency! away!
Parent of Frenzy and Despair!
Go, seek the lurid haunts of Care,
Nor here thy haggard form display!
I hate thy ever scowling eye;
Thy icy hand; thy rending sigh;
Thy slow congealing, sullen tear;
Thy listless pace; thy wither’d breast,
That owns no distant gleam of rest.
No promised tranquil hour, thy soul’s deep night to cheer!
But come, fair Hope, heart-soothing maid!
Come, with thy beaming eye the gloom pervade.
Smiling harbinger of pleasure!
Here unfold thy promised treasure!
At thy approach the weedy bower
Blooms with many an opening flower;
The skies with brighter azure glow;
The streams in clearer windings flow;
The birds new melodies essay;
Luxuriant foliage bends the spray;
While all the glories of earth, sea, and sky,
Proclaim, celestial Hope, that thou art nigh!
Now on my couch, where o’er my mind
Dull-eyed Despondency reclined,
Fair blossoms shoot; rich fragrance teems,
To prompt young Fancy’s rapturous dreams;
While at my feet Lethean waters glide;
Eternal Silence, priestess of the tide!
Where Feeling, meek and trembling guest,
Bathes in the magic stream her wounded breast,
Care’s deadly venom to destroy,
Till, every pang forgot, she hails approaching Joy.
Now banish’d from Elysian vales and groves,
Despondency with moody Madness roves!
Or sits upon the craggy mountain steep,
Whose dizzy edge hangs shadowing o’er the deep:
The lightning’s glare displays her form;
And while the deafening whirlwinds blow,
She views, unmoved, the rising storm,
That shatters the devoted bark below!
The sea-birds scream; the billows rise;
The loud-toned thunder rends the skies;
The warring elements conspire
To taunt her breast with furious ire.
She seems their direst rage to brave,
Till rising from the yawning wave,
Despair appears, the spirit of the deep!
The whelming surge her flaming pinions sweep;
The howling winds with louder clamours roar;
The angry billows lash the rocky shore;
While livid lightnings, flashing death around,
Quench their blue arrows in the gulph profound!
Hark! how the flinty fabric shakes!
While pale Despondency awakes!
And, rising from her hanging seat,
Darts forth Despair to meet.
The withering victim seems to glide
Along the cliff’s tremendous side;
Now, by her dark associate borne,
Awhile she seems to weep and mourn;
Then, lock’d within her cold embrace,
Sinks ’midst the horrors of unfathomed space.
Now, the dreary tempest o’er,
Maddening horror reigns no more;
On the eastern summit bright,
Day unbars the gates of light
And rushing forward, robed in crimson fire,
Bids sombre night with all her train retire.
The severing clouds dissolving fly;
The soft breeze fans the glittering main;
The lucid rill runs babbling o’er the plain,
Its crystal breast reflects the glowing sky!
Hope comes in heavenly colours drest;
Her golden pinions cool my breast;
Her eye with sparkling lustre shines;
Her hand a beauteous chaplet twines;
And marking Fame’s fair temple in the skies,
Bids for my grateful brow a budding laurel rise!
Written during the Massacres at Paris, in 1792-09September, 1792.
Offspring of Heaven! from whose bland throne
Thou bend’st with salutary wing,
Bearing the olive branch divine,
To grace Britannia’s lucid zone;G 50 G1v 50
Where in calm majestic pride
Her conquering navies proudly ride;
While art and commerce smiling join,
And to the favouring skies exulting Pæans ring.
Oh, bend thy flight from pole to pole;
With balmy pinions swiftly sweep
O’er the dark and foaming deep,
Where the warring billows roll;
Where, in shadowy vestments clad,
Ghastly visions, pale and sad,
Rising from their prison-wave,
Seem their destiny to brave;
Destiny severe and dire,
That spurn’d each tender hope away,
Each social gleam of mortal day,
And gave their dauntless souls to war’s insatiate ire!
Now their dismal chorus sounds
Ev’n to earth’s remotest bounds!
Beware! it says; mankind, beware!
Sheath the sword of death, nor wage
War with Heaven’s impending rage;
Nor rouse the furious fiend Despair!
Already see, by fate unfurl’d,
His poison’d banner shades the world;
All around him sad appears,
Stain’d with gore or drench’d in tears;
Where’er the monster bends his eye,
Beneath the fatal glance devoted millions die.
O blest Humanity! ’tis thine
To shed consoling balm divine
Wide o’er the groaning race beneath;
And when fell Slaughter lifts her wreath,
Let the laurel bough appear,
Gemm’d with Pity’s holy tear;
Let it moisten every bud,
Glowing, hot with human blood!
And when no crimson tint remains,
When no foul blush its lustre stains,
Bathe with oblivious balm the dread record,
Graved on the page of fame by Gallia’s vengeful sword!
Mark, oh! mark the tented plains
Where exulting Discord reigns;
Flush’d with rage, her panting breast,
Her eye with ruthless lightnings stored,
She lifts her never-failing sword,
With wreaths of withering laurel drest.
By her side, in proud array,
Ambition stalks, with restless soul;
Maddening Vengeance leads the way;
Her giant crest disdains control;
Triumphantly she waves her iron hand,
While her red pinions sweep the desolated land!
See, beneath her murderous wing,
Howling famine seems to cling!
Feeding on the putrid breeze,
Her wither’d heart begins to freeze!
With sullen eye she scowls around,
O’er the barren hostile ground;
Where once the golden harvest waved;
Where the clustering vineyard rose,
By many a lucid streamlet laved;
Now the purple torrent flows!
She marks the direful change with curses deep,
While, o’er the scene forlorn, distracted legions weep!
Where the towering city stands,
Once a polish’d nation’s pride,
See stern Death, with rapid stride,
Leads on his grisly bands!
The infant’s shriek, the sire’s despair,
Rend the sulphur-stagnant air!
Nought illumes the thickening shade,
Save the poniard’s glittering blade;
All along the flinty way,
Streams of blood are seen to stray,
Foaming, blushing, as they flow,
While every dome resounds with agonizing wo!
Haste, Humanity! prepare
Chains to quell the fiend Despair;
Round pale Vengeance swiftly twine;
Discord bind in spells divine!
Now where Famine droops her head,
Reason’s balmy banquet spread;
And where the blood-stained laurel dies,
Oh! let the olive bloom, the favourite of the skies!
To the Harp of Louisa. Miss Hanway, daughter of Mrs. Hanway, Author of Andrew Stuart,Ellenor, &c. &c. and niece to the immortal Philanthropist of that name.
If aught could soothe to peace the wounded breast,
Or round its throbbing pulses twine;
If aught could charm despair to rest,
Sweet harp, the wondrous power was thine!
For, oh, in many a varying strain,
Thy magic lull’d the direst pain,
While from each thought to human ills allied,
’Twas thine to steal the soul, and bid its fears subside!
O source of joy, for ever flown!
While yet the tear bedews my cheek,
Let the fond Muse thy graces speak,
Thy thrilling chords, thy silver tone,
That, as the western breezes sweep,
Soft murmuring o’er the troubled deep,
Could calm Affliction’s tempest rude,
Till every thought was bliss, and every pang subdued.
Now let the Muse a wreath prepare,
A mournful wreath, alas! to bind
Thy strings forlorn;
The primrose pale, the lily fair.
But where shall I a blossom find
Like her I mourn?
Where seek a rose with native colours dress’d?
Ah! beauteous flower!
No more thy charms confess’d
Shall with their sweetness decorate my bower!
For vain, soft emblem, is thy glowing pride,
Since on Louisa’s cheek the blush of Beauty died.
Sweet sainted shade! For ever flown,
To worlds unknown,
Oh! let me decorate thy bier
With many a spotless flower!
The cypress bathed with Pity’s tear,
Shall consecrated incense shower!
There shall the budding laurel bloom,
The myrtle too shall grace thy tomb;
For Genius own’d thy attributes divine
And Beauty, short-lived boast, sweet maid, was thine!
But who shall of thy gentle manners speak!
The graced complacency that deck’d thy mind!
The fine affections, tender, warm, yet meek,
Luxuriant taste, with modesty combined!
Oh! she was passing good, and passing fair!
Blest with a soul so exquisitely even;
A gem so polish’d, so supremely rare,
So free from folly, and so form’d for Heaven!
Too pure, too excellent for mortal eyes,
She like a vision shone, then vanish’d to the skies!
Dear blushing rose!
Lost object of our tender woes!
Three lingering days, The subject of this poem expired after three days’ illness, in the zenith of beauty and mental acquirements. thy leaves to shed,
The fateful blast howl’d o’er thy drooping head;
For Time, reluctant to destroy
So rich a source of treasured joy,
Fann’d with his wing the tyrant’s breath!
But, ah! how chilling is the frost of Death!
Too weak the conflict to endure,
Time saw thee, lovely, sweet and pure,
In all thy wondrous charms array’d,
Shrink from the withering storm, and meekly fade!
In Nature’s variegated bower
How many poisonous weeds appear,
Shedding their desolating power,
On every gentle blossom near;
But, oh! how rarely do we find,
Amidst the gay diversity of sweets,
Where every charm the fancy greets,
Such faultless attributes combined!
Sure, Nature form’d thee, matchless maid, to show
How far her power, her wondrous power would go!
When o’er the world black midnight steals,
And every eye in temporary death
Exhausted Nature kindly seals;
When on the confines of the grave no breath
Assails cold Meditation’s ear,
Friendship shall clasp thy urn, and drop a silent tear!
There Resignation, pensive, sad,
Shall plant around the buds of spring;
And Innocence, in snowy vestment clad,
The dews of heaven shall scatter from her wing!
And there shall weeping virgins throng,
And there Religion’s holy song
In soft vibrations round the shrine shall die,
To emulate on earth the minstrels of the sky!
Oft when the rosy beams of day
Shall on the eastern summit glow,
I’ll listen to the lark’s shrill lay;
And as the mellow warblings flow,
O harp forlorn! I’ll think of thee, and own
How poor the matin song, how weak the mimic tone!
Oft, in slow and mournful measure,
Melting wo thy chords express’d;
Oft to blithe ecstatic pleasure
Thrilling strains awoke the breast;
If thy gentle mistress smiled,
How thy glittering strings would glow!
While, in transports brightly wild,
Mingling melodies would flow!
Then, swifter than the wings of thought,
The song, with heavenly pity fraught,
Would die away in magic tone,
Sweet as the ring-dove’s plaintive moan;52 G2v 52
Soft as the breeze at closing day,
That sighs to quit the parting ray;
Or, on ethereal pinions borne,
Upon the perfumed breath of morn,
Sails o’er the mountain’s golden crest,
To fan Aurora’s burning breast!
Yet, envy’d harp! no praise was thine;
’Twas by Louisa’s power alone
Thy meek, melodious, melting tone
Could round the captive senses twine!
’Twas hers rebellious passions to control,
While every chord bespoke the peerless minstrel’s soul!
Yet was the fame that crown’d thy worth
The wonder of a transient day;
Nor could it snatch from cold decay
The beauteous hand that gave it birth;
For excellence like hers was lent, not given,
To show mortality a glimpse of heaven!
Sweet blooming flower!
Scarce seen ere lost,
Nipped by a cruel frost!
Oh! what an age of promised joy,
Relentless death, didst thou destroy
In one short hour!
But who shall dare repine?
Who blame Omnipotence divine?
The pure ethereal soul
Sprang from its prison-clay, impatient of control;
For this polluted orb too fine,
It plunged the gulph of fate in happier realms to shine!
For in this sad and stormy world,
Perchance, by many a tempest hurl’d,
The gentle spirit had endured
Ills that only death had cured;
Or lived no ray of bliss to see,
A mine of treasure in a troubled sea!
Yet Memory, watchful of her fame,
Shall guard it with a sacred zeal;
And oft in mournful numbers claim
The pang she knew so well to feel!
For sorrow ne’er assail’d her ear
Unanswer’d by a pitying tear;
Her bosom glow’d with virtue’s conscious flame;
And where she could not praise, she scorn’d to blame.
Oft by the cunning of her skilful hand
Attention hung enamour’d o’er her strain;
For well she could the soul command,
And cheat long-cherish’d Misery of its pain,
Till, by her soothing harmony beguiled,
Pale Melancholy raised her languid eye, and smiled!
Lull’d by the slow and dulcet sound,
E’en Madness could forget to weep,
And, bound in galling chains, serenely sleep
On the bare ground!
From thy celestial tone would Anger fly;
While Envy, sickening with despair,
Though born the keenest pangs to bear,
Would with her shaggy locks o’ershade her scowling eye!
To tame the savage bosom well she knew!
What cannot magic Melody subdue?
Yet was the maid unconscious of her sway;
While, far from public scenes removed,
The calm and studious hour she loved,
And through the path of life pursued her thornless way;
Or when adorn’d with all the pride of praise,
She bloom’d a blushing rose, amidst a wreath of bays!
Oh Harp revered! if round each silent string
The deathless wreath of Fame should fondly twine,
’Tis not for thee th’ admiring muse shall sing,
But for the tuneful maid who woke thy sounds divine!
Then rest, in torpid silence rest;
Mute be thy chords, and mute the muse’s song;
Louisa joins a heavenly throng,
And chants the pæans of the blest!
There, far removed from human wo,
Amidst the sainted choir her strains immortal flow!
To The Muse of Poetry. This address to the Muse of Poetry was called forth by an illiberal and unjust attack of a rival poetess! But, ah! beware how thou shalt fling Thy hot pulse o’er the quivering string, How thou another’s name shall raise How gild another with thy praise! Armida to Rinaldo. Oracle, 1791-01-05Jan. 5th, 1791.
Exult, my Muse! exult to see
Each envious, waspish, jealous thing
Around its harmless venom fling,
And dart its powerless fangs at thee!53 G3r 53
Ne’er shalt thou bend thy radiant wing
To sweep the dark revengeful string;
Or meanly stoop to steal a ray,
E’en from Rinaldo’s glorious lay,
Though his transcendent verse should twine
About thy heart each bliss divine.
O muse adored! I woo thee now
From yon bright heaven to hear my vow;
From thy blest wing a plume I’ll steal,
And with its burning point record
Each firm indissoluble word,
And with thy lips the proud oath seal!
I swear!—O ye whose soul like mine
Beams with poetic rays divine,
Attend my voice;—whate’er my fate
In this precarious wildering state,
Whether the fiends, with rancorous ire,
Strike at my heart’s unsullied fire,
While busy Envy’s recreant guile
Calls from my cheek the pitying smile;
Or jealous Slander, mean and vain,
Essays my mind’s best boast to stain;
Should all combine to check my lays,
And tear me from thy fostering gaze,
Ne’er will I quit thy burning eye,
Till my last, eager, gasping sigh
Shall, from its earthly mansion flown,
Embrace thee on thy starry throne.
Sweet soother of the pensive breast!
Come, in thy softest splendours dress’d;
Bring with thee Reason, chastely mild,
And classic Taste—her loveliest child;
And radiant Fancy’s offspring bright;
Then bid them all their charms unite,
My mind’s wild rapture to inspire
With thy own sacred, genuine fire.
I ask no fierce terrific strain,
That rends the breast with torturing pain;
No frantic flight, no labour’d art,
To wring the fibres of the heart!
No frenzied guide, that maddening flies
O’er cloud-wrapp’d hills—through burning skies;
That sails upon the midnight blast,
Or, on the howling wild wave cast,
Plucks from their dark and rocky bed
The yelling demons of the deep,
Who, soaring o’er the comet’s head,
The bosom of the welkin sweep!
Ne’er shall my hand, at night’s full noon,
Snatch from the tresses of the moon
A sparkling crown of silvery hue,
Besprent with studs of frozen dew,
To deck my brow with borrow’d rays,
That feebly imitate the sun’s rich blaze.
Ah lead me not, dear gentle maid,
To poison’d bower or haunted glade;
Where beckoning spectres shrieking glare
Along the black infected air;
While bold fantastic thunders leap,
Indignant, ’midst the clamorous deep,
As envious of its louder tone,
While lightnings shoot, and mountains groan
With close pent fires, that from their base
Hurl them amidst the whelming space;
Where ocean’s yawning throat resounds,
And, gorged with draughts of foamy ire,
Madly o’erleaps its crystal bounds,
And soars to quench the sun’s proud fire.
While Nature’s self shall start aghast,
Amid the desolating blast,
That grasps the sturdy oak’s firm breast,
And, tearing off its shatter’d vest,
Presents its gnarled bosom, bare,
To the hot lightning’s withering glare!
Transcendent Muse! assert thy right;
Chase from thy pure Parnassian height
Each bold usurper of thy lyre,
Each phantom of phosphoric fire,
That dares, with wild fantastic flight
The timid child of Genius fright;
That dares with pilfer’d glories shine
Along the dazzling frenzied line,
Where tinsel splendours cheat the mind,
While Reason, trembling far behind,
Drops from her blushing front thy bays,
And scorns to share the wreath of praise.
But when divine Rinaldo flings
Soft rapture o’er the bounding strings;
When the bright flame that fills his soul
Bursts through the flame of calm control,
And on enthusiastic wings
To heaven’s eternal mansion springs,
Or, darting through the yielding skies,
O’er earth’s disastrous valley flies;
Forbear his glorious flight to bind;
Yet o’er his true poetic mind
Expand thy chaste celestial ray,
Nor let fantastic fires diffuse
Deluding lustre round his muse,
To lead her glorious steps astray!
Ah! let his matchless harp prolong
The thrilling tone, the classic song;
Still bind his brow with deathless bays,
Still grant his verse—a nation’s praise.
But if, by false persuasion led,
His varying fancy e’er should tread
The paths of vitiated taste,
Where folly spreads a weedy waste;
Oh! may he feel no more the genuine fire
That warms his tuneful soul and prompts thy sacred lyre.
To The Blue Bell.
Blue Bell! how gayly art thou drest,
How neat and trim art thou, sweet flower;
How silky is thy azure vest,
How fresh, to flaunt at morning’s hour!
Couldst thou but think, I well might say
Thou art as proud in rich array
As lady blithesome, young and vain,
Prank’d up with folly and disdain,
Vaunting her power,
Blue Bell! O couldst thou but behold
Beside thee where a rival reigns,
All deck’d in robe of glossy gold,
With speckled crown of ruby stains!
Couldst thou but see this cowslip gay,
Thou wouldst with envy faint, and say,
Hence from my sight, plebeian vain,
Nor hope, on this my green domain,
For equal power
Poor rivals! could ye but look round,
On yonder hillock you would see
The nettle, with its stings to wound,
The hemlock, fraught with destiny.
On them the sun its morning beam
Pours in as rich, as proud a stream
As on the fairest rose that rears
Its blushing brow ’midst nature’s tears,
Chilling its power,
Then why dispute this wide domain,
Since nature knows no partial care,
The nipping blast, the pelting rain,
Both will with equal ruin share.
Then what is vain distinction, say,
But the short blaze of summer’s day?
And what is pomp or beauty’s boast?
An empty shadow, seen and lost!
Such is thy power—
Ah! cold Neglect! more chilling far
Than Zembla’s blast or Scythia’s snow;
Sure born beneath a luckless star
Is he who, after every pain
Has wrung his bosom’s tenderest vein,
To fill his bitter cup of wo,
Is destined thee to know.
The smiles of fame, the pride of truth,
All that can lift the glowing mind,
The noblest energies of youth,
Wit, valour, genius, science, taste!
A form by all that’s lovely graced,
A soul where virtue dwells enshrined,
A prey to thee we find!
The spring of life looks fresh and gay,
The flowers of fancy bud around,
We think that every morn is May;
While hope and rapture fill the breast,
We hold reflection’s loss a jest,
Nor own that sorrow’s shaft can wound,
Till cold Neglect is found.
Ah! then, how sad the world appears,
How false, how idle are the gay!
Morn only breaks to witness tears,
And evening closes but to show
That darkness mimics human wo,
And life’s best dream a summer day
That shines and fades away.
Some dread disease and others’ wo;
Some visionary torments see;
Some shrink unpitied love to know;
Some writhe beneath oppression’s fangs,
And some with jealous hopeless pangs;
But whatsoe’er my fate may be,
O, keep Neglect from me!
E’en after death let Memory’s hand,
Directed by the moonlight ray,
Weave o’er my grave a cypress band,
And bind the sod with curious care,
And scatter flowerets fresh and fair,
And oft the sacred tribute pay,
To keep Neglect away!
To My Beloved Daughter,
On her Birth-Day, 1794-10-18October 18, 1794.
’Tis not an April-day,
Nor rosy summer’s burning hour,
Nor evening’s sinking ray,
That gilds rich autumn’s yellow bower,
Alone that fades away!
Life is a variegated, tedious span,
A sad and toilsome road, the weary traveller, man!
’Tis not the base alone
That wander through a desert drear,
Where Sorrow’s plaintive tone
Calls Echo from her cell to hear
The soul-subduing moan;55 G4r 55
In haunts where Virtue lives retired we see
The agonizing wounds of hopeless misery!
’Tis not in titles vain,
Or yet in costly trappings rare,
Or courts where monarchs reign,
Or sceptre, crown, or regal chair,
To quell the throb of pain;
The balmy hour of rest alone, we find,
Springs from that sacred source, integrity of mind!
Power cannot give us health,
Or lengthen out our breathing day!
Nor all the stores of wealth
The sting of conscience chase away!
Time seals each charm by stealth,
And, spite of all that Wisdom can devise,
Still to the vale of Death our dreary pathway lies!
Mark how the seasons go!
Spring passes by in liveliest green,
Then Summer’s trappings glow,
Then Autumn’s tawny vest is seen,
Then Winter’s locks of snow!
With true philosophy each change explore,
Read Nature’s page divine! and mock the pedant’s lore.
Life’s race prepared to run,
We wake to youth’s exulting glee;
Alas! how soon ’tis done!
We fall, like blossoms from the tree,
Yet ripe, by Reason’s sun;
The cherish’d fruit in Winter’s gloom shall be
An earnest bright and fair—of immortality!
Sweet comfort of my days!
While yet in youth’s ecstatic prime,
Illumed by Virtue’s rays,
Thy hand shall snatch from passing Time
A wreath that ne’er decays!
That when cold age shall shrink from worldly cares,
A crown of conscious peace may deck thy silver hairs!
We are but busy ants,
We toil through Summer’s vivid glow
To hoard for Winter’s wants;
Our brightest prospects fraught with wo,
And thorny all our haunts!
Then let it be the child of Wisdom’s plan,
To make his little hour as cheerful as he can!
The Being we adore
Bids all the face of Nature smile!
The wisest can no more
Than view it, and revere the while.
Then let us not explore
Things hidden in the mysteries of Fate;
Man should rely on Heaven, nor murmur at his state.
Thou art more dear to me
Than sight, or sense, or vital air!
For every day I see
Presents thee with a mind more fair.
Rich pearl, in life’s rude sea!
Oh! may thy mental graces still impart
The balm that soothes to rest a Mother’s trembling heart!
Still may revolving years
Expand the virtues of thy mind;
And may Affliction’s tears
Thy peaceful pillow never find;
Nor fruitless hopes—nor fears:
May no keen pangs thy halcyon bower invade,
But every thought be bliss, till thy last hour shall fade.
Hail! tyrant of the gloomy season, hail!
I greet thine hoary brow and visage pale:
I greet thy grey and solemn eye,
Thy bosom deathly cold,
Thy breath, that breathes to petrify,
Thy snowy crest, which thickening clouds enfold.
Parent of Desolation—numbing power!
Nature first heard thee in the stormy hour;
And on the bleak hill’s shaggy side,
Beheld thee on the howling whirlwind ride:
While, withering in the wild blast keen,
Her beauteous progeny were seen,
Woods, meadows, flowerets gay, and velvet hillocks green.
She heard thy voice, both loud and deep,
The loftiest mountains sweep,
Echoing their cavern’d haunts among,
With cadence fiercely strong.
She mark’d thy sable robe, wide spread
Upon the tall cliff’s barren head:
Blank solitudes of dazzling snow
Display thy drear domain;
And, in the peopled hamlets of the plain,
Intolerable despot! shivering Wo
And pale-eyed Famine mark’d thy power,
Lord of the freezing hour!
Rivers, whose clamour spread around,
’Mid summer’s glow, a pleasing sound;
Moaning, or rippling slow along,
Embroider’d banks among—
Woods, that, nodding o’er the steep,
The misty summits crown,
And, while the evening breezes sleep,
Wave to the setting sun their branches brown—
The shallow brooks, that, when soft May
Show’d her flush’d bosom, flow’d so fast,
Now mute in icy fetters stay,
And motionless endure the blast—
All, to thy fierce and desolating sway,
Yield, scowling despot of the short-lived day!
Within the cottage, low and mean,
Pale Poverty’s chill’d group is seen;
Though not far off, across the plain,
The senseless and luxurious train
Of Pomp and Folly revel, gay,
The festive hours away!
The plenteous board, the blazing fire,
The jest and vacant smile;
The cheering cup, the warm attire,
The freezing nights beguile.
Unheard by pleasure’s train, the north wind blows,
They sink on beds of down, to sweet and long repose.
O petrifying power!
They little heed the darkest hour;
For, while with Fortune’s favours blest,
With days of luxury and nights of rest,
Pride scarce remembers misery’s shrinking kind,
Who freeze beneath the cutting wind;
Who on the snowy desert stray,
Or plough the wild and watery way;
Who, doom’d no dawning hour of hope to see,
Linger through lengthening days, or, tyrant, yield to thee!
Say, when the captive bosom feels
A magic spell around it wove,
While o’er the cheek the soft blush steals,
Say, is it love?
With pensive mien and devious pace,
To seek the dark embowering grove;
The pale moon’s quivering beams to trace;
Say, is it love?
When, chain’d to one dear lonely spot,
The bosom feels no wish to rove,
All other scenes of bliss forgot;
Say, is it love?
To tremble, while o’er Fancy’s eye
A thousand dreadful visions move;
To hope, to hear, to weep, to sigh;
Say, is it love?
To seek occasions, false and weak,
The darling object to reprove;
To look, what language fails to speak!
Say, is it love?
To chide for every trivial crime;
To bid him from your rage remove;
To guide with hope the wings of time;
Say, is it love?
To know no cheerful morn of rest;
No balmy hour of sleep to prove;
To hold philosophy a jest!
Say, is it love?
To cherish grief, nor dare complain;
To envy sainted souls above;
While jealous anguish rends the brain;
Say, is it love?
Long have I, doom’d, alas! to grieve,
Against the fell enchantment strove;
Then, Fate, ah! let me cease to live,
Or cease to love!
For the 1794-01-1818th of January, 1794.
The Muse who pours the votive strain,
Weeps o’er each tributary line,
And grieves to know that conscious pain,
Perverts her glorious great design.
Alas! in vain of joys she sings,
While Pity shackles Rapture’s wings,
And meek Dejection’s trickling tear
Responsive flows to sighs sincere;
While Meditation, fraught with rending woes,
To every feeling mind a scene of misery shows.
Bleak blows the petrifying gale
Upon the peasant’s rushy roof!
His breast a thousand pangs assail,
As though his heart were tempest-proof!
His shivering infants round him mourn,
And cry Ah! when will spring return?
Do all, like us, distress endure!
So cold, so hungry, and so poor?
Yet when their day is past stern fate bestows
The balmy hour of rest, which greatness seldom knows.
No more, Reflection, sorrowing maid,
O’er Reason cast thy awful veil;
Where Mirth, in careless garb array’d,
And smiles, and thoughtless jests prevail.
For shouldst thou trace, with pensive mien,
The fatal agonizing scene
Where legions wade through human gore,
And death shoots swift from shore to shore!
The splendid glare of revelry would fade,
And all its phantoms sink in sorrow’s whelming shade.
For Fancy might, perchance, descry
The wo which Pleasure’s tribe ne’er saw,
The bleeding breast, the phrenzied eye,
That chill the soul with fearful awe.
Fancy might paint the embattled plain,
The shrieking wife, the breathless swain,
The blazing cot, the houseless child,
Driven on Misfortune’s rugged wild!
And Truth might whisper to the pondering mind,
Such is the chequered lot of half the human kind!
Ye threatening storms malignant, fly!
Cloud not this fair, this festive day;
Burst forth to splendour, lowering sky,
And flash around a vivid ray.
Swiftly come, whispering zephyrs, chase
The tears that bathe Reflection’s face!
Bid mournful Memory cease to gaze
On livelier scenes of peaceful days,
When every morning breeze, that found our isle,
Awoke her hardy sons to labour and to smile.
Now let the gaudy tribe advance,
Let only present joys be known,
And let blithe beauty’s lightning-glance
Dart lustre round Britannia’s throne.
Yet, if amidst the dazzling sight
A sparkling tear of liquid light,
Drawn by a sigh from pity’s breast,
Should fall, to gem the regal crest,
Oh! may it shine with Heaven’s approving blaze,
An attribute divine, to mock inferior rays!
Come, soft-eyed Hope! in spotless vest,
Come, and our brows with olive deck!
Bathe with thy balm the human breast,
And rear new charms on Nature’s wreck;
Bid drooping Commerce thrive again;
Spread rapture o’er the rustic plain;
Wash with the spring from Mercy’s eye
The blood that bids the laurel die!
And spread once more around this favoured isle
The fostering rays of Peace, and bid fair Freedom smile!
From the Shrine of Bertha, a Novel,
by Miss Robinson.
O Peace! thou nymph of modest mien!
Where, where, dost thou delight to stray?
Dost thou o’er mountains bend thy way,
When evening spreads its shade serene?
Or dost thou fly from scorching light,
To seek the tufted vale?
Or, ’midst the solemn noon of night,
List to the love-lorn minstrel’s tale?
Or in the hermit’s solitary cell,
In simple vestment clad, with holy Silence dwell?
Fair, first-born, placid child of Jove!
An humble suppliant deign to hear;
If, from thy starry-spangled sphere,
Thou stoop’st o’er mortal scenes to rove;
If ever to the lonely shed
Of Agony and Grief
Thy slow and timid footsteps tread,
To bring the balm of sure relief;
Oh! quickly come, and through each aching vein
Thy sainted balsam pour, to lull my feverish brain.
The vain, the busy world I scorn;
I seek no gaudy scenes of guile,
Where Falsehood courts with murderous smile,
And Pleasure mocks the wretch forlorn:
To unillumined caves I’ll fly,
Or climb the mountain’s crest;
And, hid from every curious eye,
Steal softly to thy halcyon breast;
Where soothing visions round my form shall move,
And one long tranquil dream my weary senses prove!
Already from my throbbing heart
The killing shaft of Anguish flies;
Hope sparkles in my grateful eyes,
And Reason blunts Affliction’s dart!
About my waist no myrtle weaves;
No rose adorns my brow;
Nor yet the poppy’s numbing leaves;
Nor yet the laurel’s pompous bough;
Then, Peace! thy healing olive let me own,
And let me steal through life—unenvied and unknown.
In Imitation of Pope.
How blest is he who, born to tread
The silent paths of sweet repose,
Finds peace beneath the rural shed,
Which pomp—ne’er knows.
Who roves with independent mind,
O’er hills, and meads, and flowery plains,
That feast on Nature’s lap to find
How blest to sing, and talk, and smile,
The busy envious world forgot,
To fear no lurking stings of guile,
In his low cot.
When high the matin lark is seen,
With fluttering wings and shrilly song,
He saunters o’er the dewy green,
Fearless of wrong.
And when the sultry sun flames high,
He seeks the silent shade or dell,
No fierce banditti lurking nigh,
With murderous spell.
As evening’s crimson shadows fade,
And twilight spreads its mantle grey,
He plods along the upland glade,
Then on some pallet clean and low,
He sleeps, nor dreams of ills the while,
And when the eastern mountains glow,
He wakes—to smile.
He shuns the pride of wealth and birth—
No vassal’s lord—no tyrant’s slave!
His hut, the haunt of modest worth,
The turf—his grave.
Welcome, thou petrifying power!
Come, fix on me thy vacant eye,
Which never on thy frozen breast
(Insensate throne of torpid rest)
Dropp’d the soft tear of sympathy,
In pity’s graceful shower.—
Whose heart ne’er throbb’d with pleasure or with pain,
Melted with fond regret, or glow’d with proud disdain.
Dull maid! to thee my willing vows I pay,
Thou whom nor fortune nor caprice can change;
With thee I’ll waste the undelighted day,
With thee, unmindful of all nature, range:
The sun-deck’d mountain or the murmuring main,
The bleak hill’s summit, winter’s frozen plain,
Appear alike, O Apathy! to thee:
Then welcome, numbing power! my idol thou shalt be.
Thy poppy wreath shall bind my brows,
Dead’ning the sense of pain;
And while to thee I pay my vows,
A chilling tide shall steal through every vein,
Pervade my heart, and every care beguile,
While my wan cheek shall bear thy ever vapid smile.
Amidst the vast expanse of scene
Which Memory traces, still my mind
Shall rest, O Apathy! serene,
Patient, content, resign’d!
When Fancy paints the past repose,
Which taught my weary eyes
On Luxury’s smooth couch to close,
And bade me with the cheerful morn to rise,
No tear shall steal my soft regret to show,
No sigh shall swell my breast, for every wo
Shall find its balm—dear Apathy, in thee!
Thou best and potent cure for human misery!
Happy are those who, taught by thee,
Behold with tranquil mind
The changes of their destiny,
The sombre and the rosy hours,
And still with opiate flowers
Their icy bosoms bind!
To them the wreath of friendship torn
Presents no agonizing thorn;
Ingratitude its fangs in vain
Upon my heart may bear,
For dead to every touch of pain,
Thine adamantine shield is there!
Sustain’d by thee, the breast of stone
Bounds not with sympathetic grace,
Nor stoops the weedy path to trace,
Where Misery’s children groan!
Pale Sickness lifts the languid eye,
To see thee pass unpitying by,
While Poverty’s gaunt sons, in silent pride,
Steal to some lonely spot obscure,
And, nobly organized, deride
Those ills which patient virtue cannot cure.59 H2r 59
When love his tyrant power would prove,
Thou, vapid dreamer, still to thee
My darksome pilgrimage shall be,
Through forest drear and unfrequented grove;
Heedless, my footsteps still shall go
O’er flowery meads or wilds of snow;
The burning beams of noon shall fall
On my scorch’d breast—unheeded all;
The cold moon, gleaming mild and pale,
Shall o’er the woody mountains sail,
Or quiver on the swelling sea,
Unmark’d by me!
For I, by Apathy possess’d,
Shall taste one dream of solitary rest,
One dark unvaried dream of solitary rest,
One dark unvaried dream—till fate
Shall from this busy wildering state
My spell-encircled soul soul set free—
Ending thy short-lived power, congealing Apathy.
To the Sun-Beam.
Thou dazzling beam of fervid light!
Thy long and potent reign,
With sultry tyranny and arrow bright,
Now desolates the plain!
The withering herbage shrinks from thee;
Thou burn’st with ruthless fire the tree;
The daisied heath is yellow’d o’er—
And dewy fragrance greets the sense no more.
Emblem of worldly joy! I see
Life’s grandest scenes epitomized by thee!
Gaudy and pleasing; but awhile;—
And then how sickening they appear—
How dark! how drear!
For when the bright hours cease to smile,
How lone the midnight gloom steals by!
And, oh! how chilling is the beamless sky!
So worldly sorrow comes, when splendour fades—
A blank of solitude, a barren waste of shades!
Unhappy has the traveller been
Who, where the languid flowerets wave,
The glittering tears of morn has seen
On beauty’s grave!
Who, when the scorching hour of day
Its fiercest lustre bade him brave,
Has shudder’d near the icy clay
Of beauty’s grave!
Who, when the tempest yell’d afar,
Has heard the sighing zephyrs wave,
As slowly rose the evening star,
On beauty’s grave!
Lorn is the wanderer who beholds
Near the swift brook’s unwearied wave,
The grass-green mantle that enfolds
Beauty’s low grave!
And sad, when twilight’s shadows close,
To hear the wild affections rave
Around the bed of still repose,
Pale beauty’s grave!
There, while the faint moon rises high,
The parent mourns, who could not save,
Yet sees his hope, his treasures lie
In beauty’s grave!
Yet on that turf the sweetest flowers,
With daisies, ruby-eyed, shall wave,
And spring shall shed its softest showers,
On beauty’s grave!
To the Memory of a Young Gentleman.
If worth, too early to the grave consign’d,
Can claim the pitying tear or touch the mind;
If manly sentiments, unstain’d by art,
Could waken friendship or delight the heart;
Ill-fated youth! to thee the Muse shall pay
The last sad tribute of a mournful lay;
On thy lone grave shall May’s soft dews be shed,
And fairest flowerets blossom o’er thy head;
The drooping lily, and the snow-drop pale,
Mingling their fragrant leaves, shall there recline,
While cherubs, hovering on th’ ethereal gale,
Shall chant a requiem o’er the hallow’d shrine.
And if Reflection’s piercing eye should scan
The trivial frailties of imperfect man;
If in thy generous heart those passions dwelt
Which all should own, and all that live have felt;
Yet was thy polish’d mind so pure, so brave,
The young admired thee, and the old forgave.
And when stern Fate, with ruthless rancour, press’d
Thy withering graces to her flinty breast60 H2v 60
Bright Justice darted from her bless’d abode,
And bore thy virtues to the throne of God;
While cold Oblivion, stealing o’er thy mind,
Each youthful folly to the grave consign’d.
Oh! if thy purer spirit deigns to know
Each thought that passes in this vale of wo,
Accept the incense of a tender tear,
By Pity wafted on a sigh sincere.
And if the weeping Muse a wreath could give
To grace thy tomb and bid thy virtues live,
Then Wealth should blush the gilded mask to wear,
And Avarice shrink, the victim of Despair;
While Genius, bending o’er thy sable bier,
Should mourn her darling son with many a tear,
While in her pensive form the world should view
The only parent that thy sorrows knew.
Inscribed to the Infant Son of S.T. Coleridge, Esq.
Born 1800-09-14Sept.September14, 1800, at Keswick, in Cumberland.
Spirit of light! whose eye unfolds
The vast expanse of Nature’s plan!
And from thy eastern throne beholds
The mazy paths of the lorn traveller—man!
To thee I sing! Spirit of light, to thee
Attune the varying strain of wood-wild minstrelsy!
O Power Creative!—but for thee
Eternal Chaos all things would enfold;
And black as Erebus this system be,
In its ethereal space—benighted—roll’d.
But for thy influence, e’en this day
Would slowly, sadly, pass away;
Nor proudly mark the mother’s tear of joy,
The smile seraphic of the baby boy,
The father’s eyes, in fondest transport taught
To beam with tender hope—to speak the enraptured thought.
To thee I sing, Spirit of light! to thee
Attune the strain of wood-wild minstrelsy.
Thou sail’st o’er Skiddaw’s heights sublime,
Swift borne upon the wings of joyous time!
The sunny train, with widening sweep,
Rolls blazing down the misty-mantled steep;
And far and wide its rosy ray
Flushes the dewy-silver’d breast of day!
Hope-fostering day! which Nature bade impart
Heaven’s proudest rapture to the parent’s heart.
Day! first ordain’d to see the baby prest
Close to its beauteous mother’s throbbing breast;
While instinct, in its laughing eyes, foretold
The mind susceptible—the spirit bold—
The lofty soul—the virtues prompt to trace
The wrongs that haunt mankind o’er life’s tempestuous space.
Romantic mountains! from whose brows sublime
Imagination might to frenzy turn!
Or to the starry worlds in fancy climb,
Scorning this low earth’s solitary bourn—
Bold cataracts! on whose headlong tide
The midnight whirlwinds howling ride—
Calm-bosom’d lakes! that trembling hail
The cold breath of the morning gale;
And on your lucid mirrors wide display,
In colours rich, in dewy lustre gay,
Mountains and woodlands, as the dappled dawn
Flings its soft pearl-drops on the summer lawn;
Or paly moonlight, rising slow,
While o’er the hills the evening zephyrs blow:
Ye all shall lend your wonders—all combine
To bless the baby boy with harmonies divine.
O baby! when thy unchain’d tongue
Shall, lisping, speak thy fond surprise;
When the rich strain thy father sung,
Shall from thy imitative accents rise;
When through thy soul rapt Fancy shall diffuse
The mightier magic of his loftier Muse;
Thy waken’d spirit, wondering, shall behold
Thy native mountains, capp’d with streamy gold!
Thy native lakes their cloud-topp’d hills among,
O, hills! made sacred by thy parent’s song!
Then shall thy soul, legitimate, expand,
And the proud lyre quick throb at thy command!
And Wisdom, ever watchful, o’er thee smile,
His white locks waving to the blast the while;
And pensive Reason, pointing to the sky,
Bright as the morning star her clear broad eye,
Unfold the page of Nature’s book sublime,
The lore of every age—the boast of every clime!
Sweet baby boy! accept a stranger’s song;
An untaught minstrel joys to sing of thee!
And, all alone, her forest haunts among,
Courts the wild tone of mazy harmony!
A stranger’s song! babe of the mountain wild,
Greets thee as Inspiration’s darling child!
O! may the fine-wrought spirit of thy sire
Awake thy soul and breathe upon thy lyre!61 H3r 61
And blest, amid thy mountain haunts sublime,
Be all thy days, thy rosy infant days,
And may the never-tiring steps of Time
Press lightly on with thee o’er life’s disastrous maze.
Ye hills, coeval with the birth of Time!
Bleak summits, link’d in chains of rosy light!
O may your wonders many a year invite
Your native son the breezy path to climb;
Where, in majestic pride of solitude,
Silent and grand, the hermit Thought shall trace,
Far o’er the wild infinity of space,
The sombre horrors of the waving wood;
The misty glen; the river’s winding way;
The last deep blush of summer’s lingering day;
The winter storm, that, roaming unconfined,
Sails on the broad wings of the impetuous wind.
O! whether on the breezy height
Where Skiddaw greets the dawn of light,
Ere the rude song of Labour homage pay
To Summer’s flaming eye, or Winter’s banner grey;
Whether Lodore its silver torrent flings—
The mingling wonders of a thousand springs!
Whether smooth Basenthwaite, at eve’s still hour,
Reflects the young moon’s crescent pale;
Or Meditation seeks her silent bower,
Amid the rocks of lonely Borrowdale.
Still may thy name survive, sweet boy! till Time
Shall bend to Keswic’s vale—thy Skiddaw’s brow sublime!
To the Poet Coleridge.
Rapt in the visionary theme!
Spirit divine! with thee I’ll wander,
Where the blue, wavy, lucid stream,
’Mid forest glooms, shall slow meander!
With thee I’ll trace the circling bounds
Of thy new Paradise extended;
And listen to the varying sounds
Of winds, and foamy torrents blended.
Now by the source which labouring heaves
The mystic fountain, bubbling, panting,
While Gossamer its net-work weaves,
Adown the blue lawn slanting!
I’ll mark thy sunny dome, and view
Thy caves of ice, thy fields of dew;
Thy ever-blooming mead, whose flower
Waves to the cold breath of the moonlight hour;
Or when the day-star, peering bright
On the grey wing of parting night;
While more than vegetating power
Throbs grateful to the burning hour,
As Summer’s whisper’d sighs unfold
Her million, million buds of gold;
Then will I climb the breezy bounds,
Of thy new Paradise extended,
And listen to the distant sounds
Of winds, and foamy torrents blended!
Spirit divine! with thee I’ll trace
Imagination’s boundless space!
With thee, beneath thy sunny dome,
I’ll listen to the minstrel’s lay,
Hymning the gradual close of day;
In caves of ice enchanted roam,
Where on the glittering entrance plays
The moon’s-beam with its silvery rays;
Or, when the glassy stream,
That through the deep dell flows,
Flashes the noon’s hot beam;
The noon’s hot beam, that midway shows
Thy flaming temple, studded o’er
With all Peruvia’s lustrous store!
There will I trace the circling bounds
Of thy new Paradise extended!
And listen to the awful sounds,
Of winds, and foamy torrents blended!
And now I’ll pause to catch the moan
Of distant breezes, cavern-pent;
Now, ere the twilight tints are flown,
Purpling the landscape, far and wide,
On the dark promontory’s side
I’ll gather wild flowers, dew besprent,
And weave a crown for thee,
Genius of Heaven-taught poesy!
While, opening to my wondering eyes,
Thou bidst a new creation rise,
I’ll raptured trace the circling bounds
Of thy rich Paradise extended,
And listen to the varying sounds
Of winds, and foaming torrents blended.
And now, with lofty tones inviting,
Thy nymph, her dulcimer swift smiting,
Shall wake me in ecstatic measures!
Far, far removed from mortal pleasures!
In cadence rich, in cadence strong,
Proving the wondrous witcheries of song!
I hear her voice! thy sunny dome,
Thy caves of ice, loud repeat,
Vibrations, maddening sweet,
Calling the visionary wanderer home.
She sings of thee, O favour’d child
Of minstrelsy, sublimely wild!62 H3v 62
Of thee, whose soul can feel the tone
Which gives to airy dreams a magic all thy own!
To the Rev. J. Whitehouse.
On receiving a copy of his Odes lately published, from the author.
In this dread era! when the Muse’s train
Shrink from the horrors of th’ embattled plain;
When all that Grecian elegance could boast,
’Midst the loud thunders of the scene, is lost!
As one vast flame, with force electric hurl’d,
Grasps the roused legions of th’enlighten’d world;
The bard, neglected, droops upon his lyre,
And all the thrills of poesy expire!—
Save where the melting melody of verse
Steals in slow murmurs round the soldier’s hearse,
While o’er the rugged sod that shields his clay
Soft pity chants the consecrated lay!
For, ah! no more can Fancy’s livelier art
Light the dim eye or animate the heart;
Can all the tones that harmony e’er knew
The sigh suppress, the gushing tear subdue!
No charm she owns the bleeding breast to bind,
The breast that palpitates for human kind.
Thus did Reflection o’er each wounded sense
Pour the strong tide of Reason’s eloquence!
As, ’midst the scent of desolating wo,
She mark’d, aghast! the purple torrent’s flow!
Man against man opposed, with furious rage,
To blur with kindred gore life’s little stage;
While high above the thickening legions stood
Dark-brow’d Revenge! bathed in a nation’s blood.
’Twas then persuasive Friendship’s Mr. Whitehouse’s Odes were conveyed through the hands of a friend. soothing power
Bade Fancy greet thee in thy classic bower!
There, from the thorny maze of ills retired,
I found the Muse! and all the Muse admired!
Fair wreaths of amaranth, a boundless store;
Truth’s golden page, and wisdom’s treasured lore;
Description’s pencil, dipp’d in rainbow dyes;
And Genius, first-born offspring of the skies,
The harp-inspired! the ever varying song;
Correct, though wild, and elegant, though strong!
There Albion’s Muse, in Grecian beauty drest,
At once could awe and vivify the breast;
In mingling cadence tune the sacred yielding wire,
To soothe, instruct, to soften or inspire!
First, the enthusiast’s Subjects of Odes, by the Rev. J. Whitehouse. energy she proved,
As o’er the chords her glowing fingers moved!
The witching wildness through each fibre stole,
And seized on all the faculties of soul!
Then fierce ambition Subjects of Odes, by the Rev. J. Whitehouse. smote the wondering string,
In strains that bid the azure concave ring;
The deafening crash awoke the nations round,
And millions trembled at the mighty sound!
Next, o’er the wondering throng impetuous War,
The lord of slaughter, roll’d his brazen car!
A flaming brand the red-eyed monster held,
And waved it high in air, and madly yell’d!
While Horror Subjects of Odes, by the Rev. J. Whitehouse. bathed in agonizing dew,
Before his rattling wheels distracted flew;
Down his gaunt breast fast stream’d the scalding tear,
And now he groan’d aloud, now shrunk with fear;
His humid front was crown’d with bristling hair,
His glance was frenzy, and his voice, despair!
Then follow’d Beauty, Subjects of Odes, by the Rev. J. Whitehouse. in whose beaming eye
Sat sainted Truth, Subjects of Odes, by the Rev. J. Whitehouse. coeval with the sky!
Her song dispensed ecstatic pleasure round,
The soft lyre throbbing to the dulcet sound!
Then elfin tribes in many groups advanced,
Flaunted their gaudy trim, and nimbly danced!
Tuned their shrill voices to the tinkling string,
Or lit with glow-worm’s eyes the grassy ring;
With wanton glee their moonlight gambols kept,
And dealt the witching spell where mortals slept.
Such is the power of Fancy! such the skill
That forms her varying shadows to the will!
To crown her altar, which old Time has chose
Where silver Cam in silent grandeur flows;
And many a turret, many a lofty spire,
Marks where pindaric Gray attuned his lyre!
Still shall enamour ’d Genius haunt the shrine,
The Muses’ triumph, and their smiles—be thine.
Yet think not, bard inspired! that o’er the wreath
Thy hand has form’d, no poison’d blast shall breathe;63 H4r 63
Though blossoms fair in mingling colours vie,
Bright, but not transient, as the rainbow’s die!
Envy will penetrate thy halcyon bower,
And crush with hurried step each rising flower;
Or tasteless rage, with voice infuriate, wild,
Bid Malice triumph where the graces smiled.
For oft, where high the tree of Genius springs,
The pale fiend hovers with her mildew wings;
Shades the rich foliage from the fostering ray,
And marks each leaf for premature decay;
Dims the warm glow that decorates the fruit,
And strikes her lightning-glances to the root;
Strips the rent fragments of each latent bloom,
Nor leaves one branch to deck the Poet’s tomb!
Such is the fate of Genius! yet when art
So sweet as thine can elevate the heart;
Though Envy’s eye, or Hate’s remorseless rage,
May strive to dim the philosophic page;
Though War’s hot breath may blast the wreath of Fame;
Immortal Time shall consecrate thy name.
To The Dutchess of Devonshire.
The nightingale with mourning lay,
Amid the twilight’s purpling glow,
May sweetly hymn the loss of day,
While Echo chants her melting wo;
But what can soothe the wounded breast,
And every aching sense beguile—
Ah! what can charm the soul to rest,
Like Devon’s voice or Devon’s smile?
The modest orb, with trembling light,
Beams through the soft and freshening shower,
And stealing o’er the realm of night,
Gives lustre to the silent hour;
But what can cheer the fainting heart,
When gloomy horror frowns severe—
Ah! what can sympathy impart,
Like Devon’s sigh or Devon’s tear?
Though nature’s proudest will combined
To give her form unequall’d grace;
And though the feelings of her mind
With fine expression mark her face;
Yet as the casket charms the view
But till the treasured gem is seen,
Her mind demands the tribute due,
Which else her beauty’s claim had been.
If there be magic in her tear,
And if her smile can bliss impart,
Her sigh is still to feeling dear,
And well her voice can soothe the heart;
Then where shall wondering fancy dwell,
Nor own exclusive power the while;
Oh! say which holds the strongest spell,
Her voice, her sigh, her tear, or smile?
Inscribed to P. de Loutherbourg, Esq. R. A.
On seeing his Views in Switzerland, &c. &c.
Where on the bosom of the foamy Rhine
In curling waves the rapid waters shine;
Where towering cliffs in awful grandeur rise,
And ’midst the blue expanse embrace the skies;
The wondering eye beholds yon craggy height,
Tinged with the glow of evening’s fading light,
Where the fierce cataract, swelling o’er its bound,
Bursts from its source and dares the depth profound.
On every side the headlong currents flow,
Scattering their foam like silvery sands below:
From hill to hill responsive echoes sound,
Loud torrents roar, and dashing waves rebound;
Th’opposing rock the azure stream divides,
The white froth tumbling down its sparry sides
From fall to fall the glittering channels flow,
Till, lost, they mingle in the lake below.
Tremendous spot! amid thy views sublime,
The mental sight ethereal realms may climb,
With wonder rapt the mighty work explore,
Confess th’ Eternal’s power, and pensively adore.
All-varying Nature! oft th’ outstretch’d eye
Marks o’er the welkin’s brow the meteor fly;
Marks where the comet with impetuous force
O’er heaven’s wide concave skims its fiery course:
While on the Alpine steep thin vapours rise,
Float on the blast—or freeze amidst the skies;
Or, half congealed, in flaky fragments glide
Along the gelid mountain’s breezy side;
Or, mingling with the waste of yielding snow,
From the vast height in various currents flow.
Now pale-eyed Morning, at thy soft command,
O’er the rich landscape spreads her dewy hand;
Swift o’er the plain the lucid rivers fly,
Imperfect mirrors of the dappled sky:
On the fringed margin of the dimpling tide,
Each odorous bud, by Flora’s pencil died,64 H4v 64
Expands its velvet leaves of lustrous hue,
Bathed in the essence of celestial dew;
While from the meteor to the simplest flower,
Prolific Nature! we behold thy power!
Yet has mysterious Heaven with care consign’d
Thy noblest triumphs to the human mind;
Man feels the proud pre-eminence impart
Intrepid firmness to his swelling heart:
Creation’s lord! where’er he bends his way,
The torch of Reason spreads its godlike ray.
As o’er Sicilian sands the traveller roves,
Feeds on its fruits and shelters in its groves,
Sudden amidst the calm retreat he hears
The pealing thunders in the distant spheres;
He sees the curling fumes from Etna rise,
Shade the green vale and blacken all the skies:
Around his head the forked lightnings glare,
The vivid streams illume the stagnant air;
The nodding hills hang lowering o’er the deep,
The howling winds the clustering vineyards sweep;
The cavern’d rocks terrific tremors rend,
Low to the earth the tawny forests bend;
While he, an atom in the direful scene,
Views the wild chaos, wondering and serene;
Though at his feet sulphureous rivers roll,
No touch of terror shakes his conscious soul;
His mind, enlightened by Promethean rays,
Expanding, glows with intellectual blaze!
Such scenes long since th’ immortal poet charm’d,
His Muse enraptured and his Fancy warm’d:
From them he learnt with magic eye t’ explore
The dire Arcanum of the Stygian shore!
Where the departed spirit, trembling, hurl’d
With restless violence round the pendent world, Shakspeare’s Measure for Measure.
On the swift wings of whistling whirlwinds flung,
Plunged in the wave or on the mountain hung.
While o’er yon cliff the lingering fires of day
In ruby shadows faintly glide away,
The glassy source that feeds the cataract’s stream
Bears the last image of the solar beam;
Wide o’er the landscape nature’s tints disclose
The softest picture of sublime repose;
The sober beauties of Eve’s hour serene,
The scatter’d village, now but dimly seen;
The neighbouring rock, whose flinty brow inclined,
Shields the clay cottage from the northern wind:
The variegated woodlands scarce we view,
The distant mountains tinges with purple hue;
Pale twilight flings her mantle o’er the skies,
From the still lake the misty vapours rise;
Cold showers, descending on the western breeze,
Sprinkle with lucid drops the bending trees,
Whose spreading branches, o’er the glade reclined,
Wave their dank leaves and murmur to the wind.
Such scenes, O Loutherbourg, thy pencil fired,
Warm’d thy great mind, and every touch inspired:
Beneath thy hand the varying colours glow,
Vast mountains rise, and crystal rivers flow:
Thy wondrous genius owns no pedant rule,
Nature’s thy guide, and Nature’s works thy school:
Pursue her steps, each rival’s art defy,
For while she charms, thy name shall never die.
To the Memory of Garrick.
Dear shade of him who graced the mimic scene,
And charm’d attention with resistless power,
Whose wondrous art, whose fascinating mien,
Gave glowing rapture to the short-lived hour!
Accept the mournful verse, the lingering sigh,
The tear that faithful memory stays to shed;
The sacred tear, that from Reflection’s eye
Drops on the ashes of the sainted dead.
Loved by the grave and courted by the young,
In social comforts eminently bless’d;
All hearts revered the precepts of thy tongue,
And Envy’s self thy eloquence confess’d.
Who could like thee the soul’s wild tumults paint,
Or wake the torpid ear with lenient art?
Touch the nice sense with pity’s dulcet plaint,
Or soothe the sorrows of the breaking heart?
Who can forget thy penetrating eye,
The sweet bewitching smile, th’ empassion’d look!
The clear deep whisper, the persuasive sigh,
The feeling tear that Nature’s language spoke?
Rich in each treasure bounteous Heaven could lend,
For private worth distinguish’d and approved,
The pride of Wisdom—Virtue’s darling friend—
By Mansfied honour’d, and by Camden loved.
The courtier’s cringe, the flatterer’s abject smile,
The subtle arts of well-dissembled praise,
Thy soul abhorr’d;—above the gloss of guile,
Truth led thy steps, and Friendship crown’d thy days.
Oft in thy Hampton’s dark embowering shade
The poet’s hand shall sweep the trembling string;
While the proud tribute See Mr. Sheridan’s Monody on the death of Garrick. to thy memory paid
The voice of Genius on the gale shall fling.
Yes, Sheridan, thy soft melodious verse
Still vibrates on a nation’s polish’d ear;
Fondly it hover’d o’er the sable hearse,
Hush’d the loud plaint, and triumph’d in a tear.
In life united by congenial minds,
Dear to the Muse, to sacred friendship true;
Around her darling’s urn a wreath she binds,
A deathless wreath—immortalized by you!
Dear to a nation, grateful to thy Muse,
That nation’s tears upon thy grave shall flow,
For who the gentle tribute can refuse
Which thy fine feeling gave to fancied wo?
Thou who, by many an anxious toilsome hour,
Reap’d the bright harvest of luxuriant fame,
Who snatch’d from dark oblivion’s barbarous power
The radiant glories of a Shakspeare’s name!
Remembrance oft shall paint the mournful scene
Where the slow funeral spread its lengthening gloom,
Where the deep murmur and dejected mien
In artless sorrow linger’d round thy tomb.
And though no laurel’d bust or labour’d line
Shall bid the passing stranger stay to weep,
Thy Shakspeare’s hand shall point the hallow’d shrine,
And Britain’s genius with thy ashes sleep.Mr. Garrick’s remains lie in the Poet’s corner, at the foot of Shakspeare’s monument, in Westminster Abbey.
Then rest in peace, O ever sacred shade!
Your kindred souls exulting Fame shall join;
And the same wreath thy hand for Shakspeare made,
Gemm’d with her tears, about thy grave shall twine.
To the Memory of Chatterton.
If Grief can deprecate the wrath of Heaven,
Or human frailty hope to be forgiven!
Ere now thy sainted spirit bends its way
To the bland regions of celestial day;
Ere now, thy soul, immersed in purest air,
Smiles at the triumphs of supreme despair;
Or, bathed in seas of endless bliss, disdains
The vengeful memory of mortal pains;
Yet shall the Muse a fond memorial give,
To shield thy name, and bid thy genius live.
Too proud for pity and too poor for praise,
No voice to cherish and no hand to raise;
Torn, stung, and sated, with this mortal coil,
This weary, anxious scene of fruitless toil;
Not all the graces that to youth belong,
Nor all the energies of sacred song;
Nor all that Fancy, all that Genius gave,
Could snatch thy wounded spirit from the grave.
Hard was thy lot, from every comfort torn;
In Poverty’s cold arms condemn’d to mourn;
To live by mental toil, e’en when the brain
Could scarce its trembling faculties sustain;
To mark the dreary minutes slowly creep,
Each day to labour and each night to weep;
Till the last murmur of thy frantic soul
In proud concealment from its mansion stole,
While Envy, springing from her lurid cave,
Snatch’d the young laurels from thy rugged grave.
So the pale primrose, sweetest bud of May,
Scarce wakes to beauty ere it feels decay;
While baleful weeds their hidden poisons pour,
Choke the green sod and wither every flower.
Immured in shades, from busy scenes removed,
No sound to solace—but the verse he loved;
No soothing numbers harmonized his ear;
No feeling bosom gave his griefs a tear!
Obscurely born—no generous friend he found
To lead his trembling steps o’er classic ground;
No patron fill’d his heart with flattering hope,
No tutor’d lesson gave his genius scope;
Yet, while poetic ardour nerved each thought,
And Reason sanction’d what Ambition taught,
He soar’d beyond the narrow spells that bind
The slow perceptions of the vulgar mind;
The fire once kindled by the breath of Fame,
Her restless pinions fann’d the glittering flame;I 66 I1v 66
Warm’d by its rays, he thought each vision just;
For conscious Virtue seldom feels distrust.
Frail are the charms delusive Fancy shows,
And short the bliss her fickle smile bestows;
Yet the bright prospect pleased his dazzled view,
Each hope seem’d ripen’d, and each phantom true;
Fill’d with delight, his unsuspecting mind
Weigh’d not the grovelling treacheries of mankind;
For while a niggard boon his wants supplied,
And Nature’s claims subdued the voice of Pride,
His timid talents own’d a borrow’d name,
And gain’d by Fiction what was due to Fame.
With secret labour, and with taste refined,
This son of misery form’d his infant mind!
When opening Reason’s earliest scenes began,
The dawn of childhood mark’d the future man!
He scorn’d the puerile sports of vulgar boys,
His little heart aspired to nobler joys;
Creative Fancy wing’d his few short hours,
While soothing Hope adorn’d his path with flowers;
Yet Fame’s recording hand no trophy gave,
Save the sad tear—to decorate his grave.
Yet in this dark, mysterious scene of wo,
Conviction’s flame shall shed a radiant glow;
His infant Muse shall bind with nerves of fire
The sacrilegious hand that stabs its sire.
Methinks I hear his wandering shade complain,
While mournful Echo lingers on the strain;
Through the lone aisle his restless spirit calls,
His phantom glides along the minster’s Bristol Cathedral. walls;
Where many an hour his devious footsteps trod,
Ere fate resign’d him to his pitying God.
Yet shall the Muse, to gentlest sorrow prone,
Adopt his cause, and make his griefs her own;
Ne’er shall her Chatterton’s neglected name
Fade in inglorious dreams of doubtful fame.
Shall he whose pen immortal Genius gave
Sleep unlamented in an unknown grave?
No—the fond Muse shall spurn the base neglect,
The verse she cherish’d she shall still protect.
And if unpitied pangs the mind can move,
Or graceful numbers warm the heart to love;
If the fine raptures of poetic fire
Delight to vibrate on the trembling lyre;
If sorrow claims the kind embalming tear,
Or worth oppress’d excites a pang sincere—
Some kindred soul shall pour the song sublime,
And with the cypress bough the laurel twine,
Whose weeping leaves the wintry blast shall wave
In mournful murmurs o’er thy unbless’d grave.
And though no lofty vase or sculptured bust
Bends o’er the sod that hides thy sacred dust;
Though no long line of ancestry betrays
The pride of relatives, or pomp of praise;
Though o’er thy name a blushing nation rears
Oblivion’s wing—to hide Reflection’s tears!
Still shall thy verse in dazzling lustre live,
And claim a brighter wreath than wealth can give.
To the Memory of Werter.
Written in Germany, in the year 17861786.
When from day’s closing eye the lucid tears
Fall lightly on the bending lily’s head!
When o’er the blushing sky night’s curtain’s spread,
And the tall mountain’s summit scarce appears;
When languid evening, sinking to repose,
Her filmy mantle o’er the landscape throws;
Of thee I’ll sing; and as the mournful song
Glides in slow numbers the dark woods among,
My wandering steps shall seek the lonely shade
Where all thy virtues, all thy griefs are laid!
Yes, hopeless sufferer, friendless and forlorn,
Sweet victim of love’s power! the silent tear
Shall oft at twilight’s close and glimmering morn
Gem the pale primrose that adorns thy bier;
And as the balmy dew ascends to heaven,
Thy crime shall steal away, thy frailty be forgiven.
Oft by the moon’s wan beam the love-lorn maid,
Led by soft Sympathy, shall stroll along;
Oft shall she listen in the lime-tree’s At the corner of the church-yard are two lime trees, ’tis there I wish to rest. Sorrows of Werter. shade,
Her cold blood freezing at the night-owl’s song;67 I2r 67
Or, when she hears the death-bell’s solemn sound,
Her light steps echoing o’er the hollow ground,
Oft shall the trickling tear adorn her cheek,
Thy power, O Sensibility! in magic charms to speak!
For the poor pilgrim, doom’d afar to roam
From the dear comforts of his native home,
A glittering star puts forth a silvery ray,
Soothes his sad heart, and marks his tedious way;
The short-lived radiance cheers the gloom of night,
And decks Heaven’s murky dome with transitory light.
So from the mournful Charlotte’s dark-orb’d lids
The sainted tear of pitying Virtue flows;
And the last boon the churlish priest forbids,
On thy lone grave the sacred drop bestows;
There shall the sparkling dews of evening shine,
And Heaven’s own incense consecrate the shrine.
The Sicilian Lover:
A Dramatic Poem, in Five Acts.
Count Alferenzi, a noble Sicilian.
Leonardo, Brother to Valmont.
The Prince Montalva, an illustrious Milanese.
Duke Albert, his Son.
Ricardo, Captain of Banditti.
Francisco, an old Steward.
Honoria, Daughter to the Marquis Valmont.
Constantia, Abbess of a Convent.
Agnes, the Friend and Attendant of Honoria.
Scene I.A Pavilion at Valmont. Enter the Marquis Valmont and Prince Montalva.
Val.It shall be so! Think not, my honour’d liege,
That after a long life of busy toil
My reason can be sway’d by a weak girl:
From the first dawn of helpless infancy,
I’ve taught her mild obedience to my will,
And count upon her duty more than love.
Mont.I know her fix’d aversion to my son.
Val.So weak a thought will not disturb my hopes.
Firm to my purpose, though the heavens should yawn,
And hurl their red bolts on my aged head,
I would not waver! For your son has worth
That makes his high descent his second claim!
This day, in single combat, he shall prove
The bravest youth that Lombardy e’er saw.
Mont.The sacred friendship that has link’d our minds,
From the warm sunny hour of lusty youth
To the chill winter of declining age,
First turn’d my fancy towards the fair Honoria!
Yet, rather than by sorrow’s icy touch
To bend so sweet a blossom to the grave,
I would renounce my hopes, and her, for ever.Enter Duke Albert.
Alb.To Val.Valmont I greet you, noble Sir; and in your looks
Behold the herald of my future joy.
Mont.Alas! my son, fate frowns upon thy hopes;
The fair Honoria, rich Italia’s star――
Alb.Say, what of her? Is there from nature’s hand
So rare a model of transcendent worth?
The brilliant Hesperus that leads the day
Is not so cheering to the pilgrim’s sight
As she to mine!
Now, Albert, hear me speak:
When last I saw her, on the tender theme,
I mark’d on her pale cheek a trickling drop
The silent herald of approaching wo!
Alb.O! ’tis the pure and fascinating gem
That nature gives to maiden modesty,
To make her work more lovely! Does not the flower
Most court the sense when deck’d with morning’s tears?
Mont.And wouldst thou blast the sweet, the drooping bud?
Come, like a nipping, an untimely frost,
And wither all its beauties to the dust?
My son, I will not think so basely of thee;
A noble nature cannot taste of joy
That leaves another bankrupt and forlorn.
Alb.I know that love can take all forms to please;
And think not that I nurse too vain a fancy,
If I dare hope Honoria will be mine!
A blush of meek complacency o’erspread
The snow of her pure bosom, when I told
My tale of tender import. Thus we mark
The lily, blended in a garland sweet,
Flush’d with the soft reflection of the rose.
Val.And do we fear to feast our raptured sense,
Lest we may find conceal’d a wounding thorn?
But see, she comes! The insolent disdain
That sits imperious on her haughty brow
Be it thy task to combat and subdue.Enter Honoria.
This day, Honoria, must decide thy fate;
Thou art Duke Albert’s bride, or not my daughter.
Hon.Indeed! I think this mandate somewhat cruel.
Relentless power may drag me to the altar;
But the free soul shrinks from the tyrant’s grasp
And lords it o’er oppression.
Val.Silence, rash girl!
Again I urge, and with a father’s right,
A proud alliance with the noble Albert.
Hon.Perish his name! for it is hateful to me.
Oh! I had rather the poorest wretch
That on the barren mountain stands forlorn,
An exile from his kindred and his home,
Than barter honesty for empty show!
Those who for paltry gold would part with peace
At best can prove themselves but thrifty fools.
Val.Grasping Honoria’s hand. Take heed, ungrateful girl, and mark me well;
The soul of Valmont cannot brook denial.
Hon.――By yon azure dome
That flings its wondrous concave o’er the world,
I will encounter poverty or death
Rather than sell my freedom! This proud heart
Would burst with indignation, could my tongue
Pronounce a vow degrading to its honour!
Does the vain suitor arrogantly hope
To buy me like a slave?
Val.Think on the splendours that await thy will.
Hon.Can the gay wreaths that bind a victim’s breast
Conceal the agony that throbs within?
Give to the child of Folly toys for fools;
My soul disdains them! I am Valmont’s daughter;
Nor will I e’er disgrace my noble name
By being less than what that title makes me!
Val.I would augment the lustre of thy days,
Place thee amidst such dazzling rays of glory,
That every eye should wonder to behold thee!
Hon.So the fierce flame of a meridian sun
Gilds the poor insect which it dooms to death.
Val.Perverse destroyer of a father’s hopes!
And dar’st thou disobey, when I command?
Hon.I dare not sell my soul!
Val.Go, self-will’d fool!
Thy disobedience covers me with shame.
Oh! had thy mother lived, her gentle heart
Had throbb’d with anguish at thy wayward scorn;
’Tis for thy honour I this union urge,
What else can prompt me?――
Hon.Ambition!—not that emulative zeal
Which wings the towering souls of godlike men;
But bold, oppressive, self-created power,
That, trampling o’er the barrier of the laws,
And scattering wide the tender shoots of pity,
Strikes at the root of reason, and confines
Nature itself in bondage. Oh! tis vile.
But, thank the Gods! no spells can curb the mind,
While splendour’s proudest claim is less than virtue.
Mont.Honoria, spare thy anguish and thy scorn;
And know, that ere the glories of my name
Should dimly gleam beneath a tear of thine
I would behold them perish: cursed be those
Who, to advance their own ambitious hopes,
Would trample on the rights of truth and nature!Trumpets without.
My son, that summons chides thy tardy lance!
I will attend thee, boy. Valmont, farewell.Exeunt Montalva and Albert.
Hon.Who is the cautious hero that accepts
The vaunting challenge of the haughty Albert?
Val.I dare not tell—for ’tis the stranger’s wish
That none should seek to know his rank or name.
From Sicily he comes, and nobly born;
Right well he wields the lance, and is most apt
In feats of chivalry and bold exploit.
Hon.From Sicily! my soul is chill’d with fear! Aside.
Sir, I attend your will, and proud shall be
To witness Albert’s valour—for believe,
Although I cannot love, I can be just;
Nor will the hero’s youthful laurels fade
Because they twine not with the myrtle bough.Exuent.
Scene II.Opens, and discovers a spacious court in the palace of the prince Montalva, splendidly decorated for a tournament. Various spectators seated on rising benches; on one side a canopy, beneath which are seated, Honoria, (attended by Agnes) the Prince Montalva (with Albert standing near him) and the Marquis Valmont. On the opposite side of the stage stand three knights in armour, each wearing a scarf and helmet of the same colour as the standard borne by his page, who waits near him: Alferenzi stands at some distance, nearer the wing than the other knights, with his page also. Standards.
- 1st. Yellow, with a burning mountain.
- 2nd. Green, with a wreath of flowers and fruits.
- 3rd. Composed of silver waves, plain.
Alb.To the first. If that my senses do not play me false,
Or my eyes dazzle with your noble bearings,
Methinks I read, beneath these quaint devices,
Illustrious names! This flaming standard,
Emblem of Etna’s brow, that scorches heaven,
This crest of gold, that like a meteor burns,
Mocking the noon’s fierce fires, do give thee out
Messina’s prince, illustrious Belmonti!
Alb.To the second. This verdant ensign this enamell’d wreath
(Tinted with rainbow dyes) which seems to grow,
And, while its perfume scents the unseen air,
Blushes with modest grace, I well devise
Sprang from the ’witching garden of the world,
Luxurious Italy! and therefore greet
Verona’s noble duke, the brave Lorenzi!The Duke bows acknowledgment.
Alb.To the third. This silvery banner, that doth like the waves
Play in fantastic gambols with the air,
Dancing light-blossom’d in the sunny beam,
bespeaks the Adriatic! Beauteous sea!
That doth encompass Venice with a zone
Bright as the morning sun! Thou dost declare
The offspring of Bellarmo, Duke of Venice.The Duke bows acknowledgment.
Alb.Approaching Alferenzi. Now gallant stranger, let me ask, nor think
I mean uncourteously to mock your fancy,
Why thus conceal’d you enter in the lists?
What are your rights armorial!Alferenzi points to his Standard.
Alb.’Tis not enough
That innate lustre beams about your soul!
What are your claims to mingle in the contest?
Alf.Those claims that place the good above the proud!
The stream that rushes through these ardent veins
Flows from a source that never knew pollution!
Though sprung, brave Albert, from a sire whose arm
Has made the enemies of virtue tremble,
I scorn to shield me with another’s name,
And only boast the honours I achieve.
Alb.Most nobly urged! What is your passport here?
Alf.Nor gold, nor gems, nor purchased adulation,
Nor vapourish vaunting, nor the breath of fools,
Nor flattery’s airy fame that bubbles down
The broad stream of the world, and bursts at last
In blank oblivion!
Beguile with magic power the sense they seize,
And cheat it into faith. But ere your name
Shines on the list of valour, of your worth
’Tis fit you give some sample.
Alf.Take my scorn! Throwing his gauntlet.
Thus do I hurl my gauntlet at your feet
And mock your scrutiny; the hand it owns
Has neither palm’d with fools, nor let the base
Its blood contaminate! what would you more?
Alb.If that thy soul be lofty as thy speech,
Thou art indeed right noble! I shall expect
That thou wilt give me proof without delay.
Alf.I do not fear; my lance will do that for me. The onset begins; Alferenzi stands more forward than the rest on the stage. Albert vanquishes Belmonti.
Alf.Aside. So falls the vaunting self-enamour’d fool!
The flame that soars too high evaporates,
And wastes in empty nothing!Albert disarms Lorenzi.
Alf.Aside. Honours full blown, like summer flowers, decay!
I thought thy emblem was too fair to last!Albert vanquishes Bellarmo.
Alf.Aside. So the swift storm scowls o’er the sunny spheres;
Brave offspring of the proud and silvery main,
Thou see’st that fame is fickle as the waves!Albert advances and gazes at Alferenzi.
Alb.Now, haughty stranger, I will prove thy lance;
And either dim it with dishonour’s stain,
Or sink beneath thy scorn!
Scene III.—A Pavilion.Enter Honoria and Agnes.
Hon.It is my Alferenzi, gentle Agnes!
He is the conqueror, and he well deserves
The proud affections of my captive heart!
Oh! didst thou mark him, when his glittering lance,
Like the blue lightning arm’d with threatening death,
Rush’d on the bosom of his vanquish’d foe?
Agnes.Each eye with admiration follow’d him
Through all the varying conflicts of the scene!
What is his parentage? his name is noble!
Hon.His father is a man of loftiest birth,
A brave Sicilian! This, his only son,
Was train’d to arms, and all Calabria’s shores
Have rung with plaudits at his bold exploits!
Illustrious in himself, all outward show
Borrows those graces which it cannot lend,
For he derives no dignity from power,
By fortune less distinguish’d than by fame!
Some few months since in Tuscany we met,
And there profess’d such vows of tender faith,
As neither time nor absence e’er can change.
Hither he came disguised, in hopes to win
My father’s love by deeds of chivalry;
He has unlock’d the treasure of his heart
To my relentless parent, whose stern mind
Is still devoted to Montalva’s heir.
Agnes.Alas! I know not how to give you counsel.
Hon.I did not think that Nature’s finest art
Could fashion Reason to sustain such wo!
Heaven knows there’s nothing so forlorn as I!
The sea-beat mariner, who on the shrouds
Hangs at the mercy of the warring winds,
Rock’d by the howling spirits of the deep,
May count him in a cradle of repose,
And think the roaring blast a zephyr’s breath,
Compared with passion’s wild and maddening storm!
Amidst the mingling labyrinths of thought,
Bewilder’d Patience turns, and turns again,
Till, hopeless and o’erwhelm’d, she faints and dies!
Agnes.From childhood uncontroll’d, your soften’d mind
But ill can combat life’s perplexing thorns.
Sole mistress of the castle’s rich domains—
Hon.Ay! There again, oh! most disastrous state!
A mother’s care in infancy I lost,
But the sad hour or manner of her death
I never yet could learn; my father’s frowns,
Whene’er I press’d inquiry of her fate,
Still awed me into silence. Oh! if she lived,
Though poor, deserted, friendless, and oppress’d,
I would, o’er burning plains, or wastes of snow,
A barefoot wanderer, seek her out, and bless her!
Agnes.Strange rumours have been buzz’d abroad, and some
Have dared accuse—
Alb.Honoria! is my destiny decreed?
Wilt thou not bend thy footsteps to that altar
Where meek-eyed pity bathes the wounds of love?
Hon.Never! yon host of saints that know my thoughts,
Know they are fix’d, and towering o’er my fate,
Like the vast rocks that bound the stormy main!
Let the fierce tempest of a father’s rage
Dash my soul’s purpose, as the foaming waves
Waste their vain fury on the flinty shore!
I can with patience bear all human ills;
All that gaunt poverty can heap upon me;
The cold disdain of insolence and pride,
Peace-wounding calumny, or death itself!
Rather than break my vows to Alferenzi.
Alb.Perdition blast his hopes! the daring villain!
But he shall perish!
Hon.What—because he loves!
Oh! do not scatter my wild thoughts to frenzy!
’Tis not the province of a noble nature
To plunge a poniard in the vanquish’d heart!
Stain not thy glowing laurels, won by valour,
With the pale lustre of a woman’s tears.
Albert, embattled legions have beheld
Thy dauntless crest bound with immortal wreaths!
Then know, the sword that’s steep’d in gallant blood
Should at the fount of pity cleanse its stains,
Ere reason aches to see it! Spare thy foe,
Nor let the poison fell of private hate
Disgrace thy kindred or thy country’s fame!
Alb.I will be calm, if thou wilt bid me hope.
Hon.There’s not a wretch that breathes but dares to hope.
The wither’d tenant of a dungeon’s gloom,
Who, shut unpitied from the face of heaven
Almost forgets the radiance of the sun,
Still in his prison sees effulgent hope,
That dissipates the horrors of still night,
And bids him smile upon his galling chain!
That power instinctive braves the tyrant’s nod;
Secure within itself, the conscious soul
Still feeds on hope, and triumphs to the last!
Scene IV.—Evening. Before Valmont’s Castle.Enter Alferenzi.
Alf.This is the hour, when on yon lofty terrace
Honoria comes to taste the evening air,
And with the dulcet tinkling of her lute
Bids the lorn nightingale forget his tale,
And pause, in wonder rapt! The crimson west
Gilds the grey battlements with blushing gold,
And viewless myriads o’er the fainting flowers
Close their long sultry day with humming song.
As through the valley pensively I wander’d,
At every cottage door the weary hind
Sat ’midst his infant race, with ditty old,
Cheating the traveller Time; while twilight’s hand
O’er the still landscape drew a dusky veil:
Ere now, the freckled carle forgets the world,
And in his unbarr’d chamber sweetly sleeps,
Lull’d by the music of the mountain breeze.
Val.I thought to find the victor—Alferenzi!
Alf.Then thou art not deceived, for I am he—
Val.It ill becomes a valiant son of honour
To lurk at this still hour, and seek occasion
To act a scene of darkness. Turn thy thoughts
To the broad field of conquest and renown;
Nor waste in amorous folly manhood’s prime,
While glory and ambition claim your sword.
Alf.I do not need your counsel, for I know
A soldier’s valour is his country’s fame.
Yet Heaven forbid ambition’s furious tide
Should whelm the milder virtues of the soul:
The proudest triumphs that await the brave
Look not so beauteous in the sight of Heaven
As mercy’s humblest tear.
Val.A weak evasion!
Again I tell thee, that Honoria’s heart
Is pledged to brave Montalva’s only heir.
Alf.Her hand, thou mean’st;—but may the God of battle
Amidst whole legions of the foe forsake me,
May foul dishonour blight my fairest hopes,
If ever I renounce thy peerless child!
Cursed be the sordid wretch whose grovelling soul
Would bind in golden chains a trembling slave;
Or, like a dastard, traffic with the base,
To sell that freedom Heaven design’d for all!
Val.Thy rage, rash youth, can only move my pity;
Nor will I dim the lustre of my sword
To curb or to chastise—a daring stripling.
Alf.Drawing his sword. Defend thyself!— yet, soft, a moment’s pause—
Thou art the father of my soul’s best darling
The source of all the light that gilds my days!
And therefore—I forgive thee.
What then, at last thou prov’st thyself a braggart!
An empty, bold, an arrogant presumer!
Boy, the young blood forsakes thy quivering lip—
Is it the touch of fear or secret malice?Alferenzi raises his sword, then lowers it.
Guilt! conscious guilt unnerves thy trembling arm,
While her pale ensign blanches o’er thy cheek;
Nay, frown again, while I with smiles repay
The foe I scorn to combat.
Alf.Sheathing his sword. Have a care!
I do conjure thee, venerable man,
Urge not my hand to do a deed of horror!
I would not be thy murderer—
Then swear by faith, by honour, and your sword,
Never again to see her. Dost thou pause?
Alf.Oh! bid me rather curse yon glorious orb,
That rolls his burning chariot through the sky;
Tell me, with base and sacrilegious hands
To murder smiling infants, or profane
Religion’s still and consecrated shrine;
Bid me rush forth a damned parricide,
And drink the life-stream of a parent’s heart!
There is no deed of horror so abhorr’d
As violation of my faith to her.
Val.She will but mock you; for to-morrow’s dawn
Will see her Albert’s bride; and till that hour
She keeps her chamber—such are my commands;
And she respects a father’s right too much
To think of Alferenzi!
Alf.’Tis false as hell.
She will not so degrade the soul she owns,
Nor will I brook a rival: Tell him so;
Tell the vain boaster that a father’s pride
Shall by a lover’s vengeance be chastised.The Castle bell strikes.
Val.The bell now calls me home to evening prayer.
Mark me, rash boy—if ever you approach
These castle walls again, without my bidding,
That hour shall be your last! Think, and be wise.Exit.
Alf.To-morrow! if thou opest thy golden eye
To see Honoria wedded to duke Albert,
Thy parting glance shall shine upon my grave!
Now will I to my solitary home,
To taste a lover’s only food, sharp sorrow!
To paint on Fancy’s tablet my soul’s joy,
And dream of bliss—though I should wake to madness.
Scene I.—A Gothic Hall, with a Gallery and Staircase.Enter Honoria and Agnes.
Hon.A prisoner, said’st thou?—in my father’s castle!—
Here! where from infancy my growing reason
Has taught me to look forward with delight!
Is this the noontide of so blithe a promise?
Oh, Agnes! happy is the mountain peasant
That wakes exulting with the morning beam,
And, still a stranger to the cares of greatness,
Sinks to soft slumbers with the setting sun!
The seasons are to him but pleasing changes
Of labour and repose; his wife, his infants,
The smiling subjects bound by Nature’s laws
To decorate his little world of love!
Agnes.Yet ’tis not always thus; for oft we see
That Virtue, to the rugged wild retired,
Still finds the thorn affliction in its way.
Hon.But the rough child of nature knows no guile;
No honied poison meets his healthful lips,
Steep’d in the gilded chalice of deceit:
By poverty, from envy far removed,
No fawning sycophant assails his door,
Where holy innocence presides, secure!
Agnes.Give not your thoughts to melancholy musing;
By pondering o’er past wo we oft neglect
The means of future joy.
Hon.Now, hear me, Agnes;
This night I promised in the forest’s gloom
To meet my Alferenzi; there to pour
All my vast store of sorrows in his breast,
And then to seek oblivion.
Be not so rash; parental rage is transient,
And nature bends the heart to suffering virtue!
Hon.Oh! could transcendent virtue’s charm subdue
The haughty spirit of my father’s soul,
He had not with remorseless rage deprived
An only child of a fond mother’s care.
But she’s in Heaven.
Agnes.Yet, see thy Alferenzi—
Hon.Ah! do not mock my anguish; gods! to see him,
O’er the bleak desert or the craggy mountain,
Bow’d by the yelling blast and beating tempest,
No light save that the livid flash afforded,
Still would I wander, pleased and unrepining!
Agnes.Attend—without the prospect of such danger,
You may hold converse freely; the stern guard
Your father makes the keeper of your prison
I can persuade to pity; if you’ll venture,
The western portal shall be open to you,
And in the forest, by the midnight moon,
You may confer in safety, and unseen.
Hon.O! blessings on thee!—soft, this ray of hope
Dazzles my aching senses, and I start
As from a dream of horror, where the brain,
Stampt with the semblance of some phantom dire,
Reflects it, waking, to the fearful gaze!
Now, gentle Agnes! seek my Alferenzi!
Tell him, the gloom that hides a maiden’s blush
Presents no terror to the spotless soul!
Guilt fears the ’witching hour of spectred night,
When on the murderer’s front the starting drop
Sits like the dew upon the poisonous toad!
But virtue, guided by its own pure ray,
Treads the rude path, undaunted and secure.
Now to thy task, and may the powers of pity
Guard thee from every ill! I will away,
And in my prison chamber wait thy signal.Exeunt severally. Valmont descends from the gallery.
Val.Go, disobedient fiend!
Long shalt thou wait before thy minion comes:
The midnight moon, reflecting what she sees,
Shall veil her placid brow with tints of blood!
No sound shall greet thine ear with signal kind;
But the lone owl, with horror-boding shriek,
Shall pierce thy love-sick, palpitating heart.
How like her mother look’d the froward girl!
On that dread night, when her proud father fell,
So did she lure me to her fatal snare.—
Away, reflection! vengeance calls me hence;
And I obey the summons.
Scene II.—Before the Castle. Moonlight.Enter Albert, wrapped in a Venetian cloak.
Alb.I cannot be deceived!
I heard the voice of Agnes from the terrace
Call soft on Alferenzi! if he attends
The guilty bidding, ere the twilight gleams,
Or he or I must fall! now sullen night
Flings her star-spangled mantle o’er the globe,
And spirits hostile to the soul of man
Weave the dark web of mischief! bodings strange
Knock at my heart and make my pulses beat
As though the life-stream struggled with my fate.A light appears in the Tower.
That is Honoria’s chamber; and she wakes
At this unusual hour; ’tis passing strange!
Hah! she approaches!Albert draws back. Agnes comes forth from the Castle.
Agnes.Francisco is our friend;
Thus far kind fortune smiles upon our hopes!
How lovely is this silence! The faint breeze
Sleeps like an infant lull’d by its own song!K 74 K1v 74
Scarcely three hours have wing’d their tardy flight,
Since from the watch-tower I distinctly mark’d
The pensive Alferenzi: on a bank
O’er-canopied by odorous myrtle boughs,
With folded arms, like one not loving life,
Mournful he stood, inclining o’er the stream,
That seem’d to soothe him with its murmuring sound.She hears footsteps.
Now all the spirits of the night protect me!Exit.
Alb.Oh! busy, cunning minister of ill!
Thou draw’st thy victim to that dizzy point
From whence my sword shall hurl him to destruction!
Come, sweet revenge, thou haggard imp of hell,
Come, let me riot in thy iron arms,
And glut my soul with luxury of hate!
Some one approaches—to my hiding place
Till I make sure of vengeance!Retires into the wood.
Val.Ha! does the coward shun me
Thus have I caught the thief in his own snare:
It must be Alferenzi, like a traitor,
Lurking in ambush, with a villain’s hand,
To steal a father’s treasure. Day’s proud lord
Soon as he decks his eastern car with fire,
Shall see the wily serpent writhe in death!
Thou God of retribution! Thou whose voice
Bids the pale caitiff dread the thunder’s bolt,
Now shield my arm, and let it strike securely.
Hon.Agnes, oh! speak! is Alferenzi there? A deep groan issues from the wood. Valmont starts.
Do my startled senses yet deceive me,
Or did I hear a soul-departing groan
In yon dark tangled wood? Who passes there?
Speak, or the castle bell shall raise the country.
It must be some unwary traveller,
Benighted in this solitary gloom,
Waylaid and murder’d by conceal’d banditti!
Val.Fearfully. Be still, Honoria, ’tis thy father, child.
Send round a vassal to unbar the gate,
For I am faint with anguish.
Hon.Heavens! why that piercing tone of trembling fear?
I thought, ere now, that sleep had folded you
On the soft couch of safety and repose.
I will despatch a vassal instantly
To give you entrance.
Val.Oh! thou blushing sword!
Thou instrument accursed, that gave away
My foul, sin-spotted soul, where shall I hide thee?
Scene III.—Honoria’s Chamber.A lamp burning near a window. A door open to the battlements, from which Honoria enters. The moon seen half concealed by clouds opposite the door.
Hon.Who wears the scarf of Alferenzi. Agnes not yet return’d! That groan of death
Still vibrates on my brain, and bids me fear
For Alferenzi’s safety—Heaven protect him!
Hon.Prophetic powers! Hah! What am I to think?
Why is that hand so gash’d, and stain’d with blood?
Speak, ere the current of my heart congeals,
And all my faculties freeze up with horror!
Thou’rt deadly pale! and the cold dew of fear
Doth glisten on thy brow! Alas! my father!
Val.Wildly. Peace! be silent. Heard you not the tempest
That shook our lofty towers from their foundation?
Saw you the back wing of the howling blast
Sweeping our turrets, red with human gore?
Hon.I pray thee, help me bind this bleeding hand.
Ah! let me call assistance—thou art faint!
Val.Call, call the world’s vast multitude to curse me!
Let hungry vultures batten on my heart;
Pluck out mine eyes to feed the eagle’s brood,
Lest they, by gazing on thee, fear thy beauty!
Hon.Whence comes this strange disorder of thy brain?
Val.From that infernal gulf where guilty souls
Howl in despair! Oh! ’twas a stormy hour.
The earth was palsied, and the vaulted spheres
Flash’d forth indignant flames, while all around
Pale spectres yell’d in triumph o’er the deed!
Hon.Thy fancy doth beguile thy better reason;
A night more still and calm I ne’er have seen.
’Tis the sweet pause when nature sinks to rest,
To wake again with renovated charms.
No object seems to move, save the thin clouds,
That, slowly floating o’er the grey expanse,
Veil the bright forehead of the silvery moon.
Val.Thou art deceived—
There is a fiend abroad with mildew wing,
Blighting creation! Hell yawns forth monsters,
And the blue air is choked wiith poison’d mists,
Thickening to hide the general wreck of nature.
Say, wilt thou aid the ministers of wrath
To curse an aged father?
Hon.Heaven shield me from the thought!
Why dost thou ask such incoherent questions?
Whose were the crimson drops that stain thy sword?
Val.He met me on my way—he cross’d my path—
Revenge, unsated, panted for his blood!
Would I had perish’d ere my sword had reach’d him.
Hon.Whom dost thou mean?
Hon.Oh! monstrous and inhuman! quit my sight,
Lest I should, darting o’er the bounds of reason,
Tear all the bonds of filial love asunder,
And brand thee with the name of an assassin!
Go, hide thyself for ever, rash old man,
For thy deep-furrow’d cheek is stampt with murder!
Val.Restrain thy frenzy: know, a father’s life
Depends upon thy silence: I must hence
Before the broad and blabbing eye of day
Glares on the scene of slaughter! Fare thee well!
I would embrace thee ere we part for ever,
But that these red contaminated hands
Would stain thy white and unpolluted soul!Going.
Hon.Thou shalt not leave me:
Thou, whom the voice of nature taught me first
To love and honour, art more dear than ever,
Because thou art more wretched.She goes to embrace her father, sees the bloody sword, and recoils with horror.
Put up that sword! It blasts my shatter’d senses!
Oh! I am lost! my wild ethereal spirit
Springs o’er the confines of this world’s despair,
And flies to Alferenzi!
Val.Sheathing his sword. Already the grey dawn steals o’er the forest,
And tips our battlements with dusky light;
Danger comes trembling on the wings of time,
And time, not daring to record the deed,
Flies swiftly on! Come, let me lead thee, love.
Hon.Wildly. Oh! lead me where all memory shall fade;
Where blank oblivion desolates the scene!
Yet, stay; I have a secret to unfold.
Seest thou yon star, that in the rosy East
Stands, like a lacquey, at the gates of day,
Scattering afar the shadow-vested clouds
That on the glittering threshold lingering hung?
All will be well! The sun will warm his breast,
And Heaven’s own tears, unseen by mortal eyes
Will consecrate his grave! so pure is pity!
Hon.To Fran. wildly. Well? Is he dead? What else has brought thee hither?
All guiltless souls devote this hour to sleep;
Then why are we still waking? Who art thou?
Fran.Forgive me, lady , for this bold intrusion;
But the deep groans I heard beneath our walls
Urged me to seek the Marquis――
Hon.Why? what is it to him? He knows not of it;
And if he did, ’tis now, alas! past cure.
Val.This is the wandering of her scatter’d thoughts;
Do not disturb her farther; now, good night;
Get thee to bed sternly, and when the sun peeps forth,
We’ll to the forest—but your lady’s safety,
Her mind disorder’d by some unknown cause,
Requires that I should watch her for a time:
Nay, no reply. Francisco, fare thee well.Exit Francisco.
Come, let me lead thee.
Hon.Would it were to my grave!
Scene IV.—A Pavilion at Montalva’s Castle.Enter the Prince Montalva meeting Francisco.
Fran.Oh! venerable Prince! I’ve news to tell
Will seize the feeble fibres of thy brain,
And though thy nerves could mock the temper’d steel,
Would shiver them with horror!
Mont.Where’s my son?
All the long night I watch’d for his return.
Heaven grant no ill betide him.
Fran.Well I know,
He that reports ill news ungracious seems,
Howe’er his phrase be fashion’d: therefore hear
A tale that mocks all harmony of speech!
Startled by groans of anguish, I arose
Ere I had press’d my pillow one short hour,
And to the forest, where the towers of Valmont
Rear their dark battlements, pursued my way;
There, hold my heart while I reveal a story
Big with all Hell’s worst horrors! your brave son76 K2v 76
Lay by the thicket side, a piteous corse;
The ruddy stream once mantling o’er his cheek
Had flown to drench a dire assassin’s sword!
Mont.Nay, then, my weary journey soon will end,
And my long pilgrimage of worldly wo
Fade like a ferverish dream! The source is still
From whence my spring of rapture rose so bright!
The flower that deck’d my silver hairs is dead!
Blasted and scatter’d by the ruthless storm!
Fran.Oh! ’twas a cruel deed—
And shall I never see my child again?
Never, in converse sweet, beguile the hour
That closes life’s dull scene? It is most strange,
So near the castle, and at night’s still noon,
When every moaning breeze distinctly steals
O’er meditation’s ear, to be so butcher’d!
Fran.I know not what to think; yet much I fear
Some secret malice urged the murderer’s sword
More than the hope of plunder.
Oh! good Francisco! Heaven absolve my soul,
If, without proof, I judge a fellow creature;
But shrewd suspicion points at Alferenzi:
A rival’s hate alone could prompt an act
So fraught with ruin! Oh! my gallant Albert!
Fran.Say, shall I lead you to him? The rude swains
And village girls have strew’d his graceful corse,
And every fragrant bud was steep’d in tears.
Mont.Ah! let me not behold him for my eyes,
If once they fix’d upon my murder’d boy,
Would start with anguish from their humid spheres,
And yield me up to darkness! Here I swear,
Never to cherish hope or seek repose
Till I have dragg’d the cursed assassin forth,
And, by the last deep groan that rends his heart,
Appeased the spirit of my valiant son!
Scene V.—In the Castle of Valmont.Enter Alferenzi and Agnes.
Alf.Gone! said’st thou, Agnes? Both at break of day,
Their course unknown, sudden, and unattended,
What can it mean? Tell me, good gentle damsel,
Left she no word of kind remembrance for me?
Agnes.I knew not of their flight till they departed;
Before the midnight hour crept half way on
To that which time proclaims the new-born day,
With sighs and tears, and many earnest prayers,
She vow’d her love and truth to Alferenzi.
Alf.Say on, fair Agnes! To the tortured wretch,
Stung by the poisonous spider to the heart,
The sound of minstrelsy is not so sweet!
Agnes.Wrung to the soul by a stern father’s rage,
Last night she form’d the fatal resolution,
In cold monastic gloom to end her days;
And scarce an hour before her sudden flight
Me she despatch’d to give you timely notice,
That to the forest she would steal at midnight,
And, by the waning lustre of the moon,
Bid her fond hopes and you farewell for ever.
Alf.Oh! most inhuman thought! most barbarous wish!
Why did she fail to keep her promise then?
Agnes.Alas! I know not: after tedious search
To find you wandering at th’ appointed place,
I hasten’d to the castle, where I found
The outward gate unbarr’d—I pass’d along
The solitary courts, o’erwhelm’d with fear!
No light appear’d around the spacious pile,
Save a small lamp, which at a lattice grate
Shot from the western tower a feeble ray.
Alf.Why from the western tower? Who rested there?
Agnes.It was the prison of my lovely mistress. Alferenzi starts.
The melancholy stillness of the night
Made my own footsteps echo as I trod
The gothic cloisters that surround the courts:
On the white marble of the banner’d hall
I mark’d fresh drops of blood! and further on—
Alf.Hold! and be careful, I conjure thee, Agnes;
There is more terror in those little words
Than in the prospect of eternal pangs.
The father of Honoria! Oh! my soul,
This is thy last dread trial—she is dead!
The barbarous fiend has blotted Nature’s page,
And written murder with his poniard cursed
Steep’d in the fountain of his daughter’s heart!
Agnes.Next to the chamber of my darling mistress
I flew, with hurried step and beating heart;
There, strew’d about, I saw her rich apparel,
That deck’d her person when I parted from her;
Her cross of brilliants, and her emerald zone,
Thrown carelessly aside.
Alf.Oh! damned monster!
Agnes.Then, wild with horror! to the northern tower,
Where the stern father erst was wont to pass
The midnight hour in sullen meditation,
I rush’d impatient; ’twas the dawn of day,
And through the painted casement’s purple light
Cast a faint lustre on the fearful gloom.
I gazed around me—
Alf.Was the blood there too?
Agnes.Yes; on the garment of the haughty marquis:
The vest he wore last night was crimson-spotted
With human gore; scarce cold when I beheld it!
Alf.Oh! ’tis most sure.
Agnes.Now hear me, Alferenzi;
Prepare thy soul to meet another proof,
As black as hell itself! I then descended
By a small winding staircase, dark and damp,
To the long gallery where, in pictured pomp,
The steel-clad ancestors of Valmont hung.
The clock struck three! Beneath the fretted roof
The hollow-sounding echo lingering stole!
I started! Horror chain’d me to the spot!
When, gazing on the ground with fear-fix’d eyes,
I mark’d this blood-stain’d scarf, which, when I left
My angel mistress, veil’d her beauteous breast!
Grow to my anguish’d heart. Oh! wounded nature!
If in my breast one spark of mercy gleams,
Let these red drops extinguish it for ever!Enter Francisco.
Francisco, where’s thy mistress? quickly speak.
Fran.I fear, most noble Sir, she’s in her grave.
When last I saw her—
Alf.Was she not living?
Fran.Scarcely, my lord; so sadly wan she look’d,
That my old eyes did make my manhood blush
Through many a trickling tear.
And didst thou leave her so, unfeeling slave?
Fran.My lord, I left her to a father’s care;
She seem’d most deeply troubled; for her words
Were incoherent, wild, and sorrowful!
I would have call’d assistance, but the marquis
Commanded me to leave them.
Fran.Alone, my lord; I dared not disobey;
His looks were terrrible and much I fear
Some direful purpose rankled in his soul.
Alf.Francisco, get thee hence; and let thy zeal
Give strict observance to thy searching eye.
Explore all secret corners of the castle,
Each darken’d niche, and every lofty tower;
Murder’s a lurking fiend, and shuns the gaze
Of broad-eyed Honesty! Now fare thee well.Exit Francisco.
Agnes, this father is a vile assassin!
A barbarous monster, sacrilegious slave!
Who to the demon of insatiate wrath
Has sacrificed the life of his dear child!
Oh! thou fell wolf, could not so sweet a lamb,
With all the graceful eloquence of nature,
Arrest thy butcher hand, and turn the knife
On thy own cursed and most relentless bosom!
All Erebus, conspiring with thy fate,
Sent forth its blackest fiend to aid the deed,
And drag thy trembling soul to deep perdition!
Agnes.’Tis likely noble Albert interposed
Too late to save Honoria, and was slain
By the rash marquis to impede pursuit.
Alf.Impossible! none but the famish’d tiger
Would kill the thing it loved; if Valmont’s soul
Could bend a moment from its churlish mood,
That Albert was the dearest to his heart.
Alas! Honoria was his only victim!
Her bosom was the unpolluted temple
Where innate truth, majestically throned,
Fear’d not the subtle glance of malice fell,
Till, like the basilisk, it seal’d its prey,
And feasted on its idol! All the earth
I’ll traverse o’er to seek the monstrous villian;
And may the blue-wing’d bolts of heaven destroy me,
If e’er I rest till vengeance is complete!
Scene I.—The inside of a cavern. The setting sun seen through a chasm in the rock. Ricardo and other banditti discovered drinking.
Ric.’Tis strange, that through this solitary wood
No traveller has pass’d since yester-dawn!
Beshrew me but I’m weary of our trade;
Knaves are so multiplied, that honest men
Live better than ourselves; and more secure,
For each depends upon himself alone.
2d Rob.Ricardo, dost thou doubt our firm alliance?
Ric.In truth, not I; it is the time’s disease
That palsies honesty; for villains thrive
In such profusion of victorious guilt,
That secrecy is useless to our calling.
Why skulk in cavern’d mountains, shrink from light,
And lurk in ambush for the traveller’s gold,
While in the broad effulgence of full noon,
In cities throng’d with gaping multitudes,
The bolder caitiff plunders all secure!
3d Rob.Thou know’st the world, Ricardo.
To make me shun one half the race of man,
And pity all the rest! so frail is nature!
1st Rob.Discrimination finds no easy task
In searching the gay paths of busy life,
Where all is outward artificial show,
Put on to varnish falsehood.
Ric.True; but deception wears so thin a mask,
That stern philosophy ne’er fails to note it.
Whatever shape, complexion, or disguise,
Hypocrisy may take, of ermined robe,
Or threadbare vestment scant, or witching smile,
Or cynic brow austere, it cannot hide
The base deformity that lurks within;
The bold and ragged knave less dangerous still
Than he who pranks him in a cloth of gold!
Val.Without. Hillo! within there.
Ric.Silence, good fellows:
Let us retire, and shrewd observance make
Of our unwary guest; perchance some poor
And wo-worn pilgrim here would find a nook
To shield his body from the midnight blast:
Do not forget, my comrades, we are men.
Val.Here nothing can molest thee. Night draws near,
And ere dim shadows shroud the twilight gleam
I’ll venture forth; not far from this lone spot
I mark’d a clustering vineyard, whose scorch’d bank
Was kindly freshen’d by a limpid spring,
That from the neighbouring steep meandering flow’d;
They shall supply our solitary meal;
And, when the smiling yellow-vested morn
Crowns with a wreath of gold the eastern hill,
We will pursue our journey. Cheerly, love;
Look up, and all our miseries will end.
Hon.Think’st thou that murder will not cry aloud,
And rouse the fates to vengeance? Will yon Heaven,
Whose beamy eye encompasseth the world,
Wink at the deed of horror? Every thorn
That festers in the deeply-wounded mind
May from Time’s lenient power a balsam take
To draw its poison forth; save where the hand,
Blurr’d with the life-stream of a fellow creature,
Contaminates the means ordain’d to heal,
And leaves the wretch past cure.
Val.Grasping his sword. ’Twere best to die!
That cure at least is ready to my grasp;
Thou know’st I am no coward—
Oh! wouldst thou then destroy thy better part,
Turn from the balsam Heaven in pity leaves
To cleanse thy soul’s deep wound and seal its pardon?
Wouldst thou sum up the dark account of horrors,
And, by the sure damnation of thy deed,
Rush from this transitory scene of anguish
To the dread chaos of eternal wo?
Val.The complicated pangs that rend my heart
Would melt the ministers of wrath to mercy.
Hon.But will not justice urge her sacred claim?
Will not the tongues of men denounce the act
That bids humanity recoil, aghast?
Val.Why did I quit my home? My lofty state
Had silenced busy clamour, and forbade
The breath of columny to taint my name!
Hon.Oh! empty sophistry; delusive hope!
’Tis in thy greatness thy conviction lies.
Unseen, the sweetest low-born buds decay;
But the proud cedar, towering on the rock,
Stands like a land-mark to attract men’s eyes;
And, though it shares the bright meridian blaze,
It cannot ’scape the pelting of the storm.
Val.Soon as my footsteps greet Helvetia’s land,
I may defy my fate, for there, secure,
What slave shall menace Valmont?
Ric.Observing them from the inner cave. Valmont!
Val.Hah! heard’st thou not a voice, with hollow sound,
Repeat the name of Valmont?
Hon.Such it seem’d—
’Twas but the echo of this vaulted cave.
Now let me rest; and while you venture forth
To seek refreshing fruits, I’ll watch and pray!
Val.I will not leave thee long; and Heaven, I trust,
Will guard me till my weary steps return.Exit.
Hon.Now all is still, and terrible as death!
Here meditation fearfully employs
The melancholy hour; yet unappall’d
Hood-wink’d destruction seems to stalk secure!
What, if my father should no more return?
How shall I find my way? where seek repose?
Oh, Alferenzi!Taking a picture from her bosom. if thy spirit blest
Could visit these dread haunts thou wouldst appear
To soothe me with a gleam of consolation!
Ric.Still observing her. I will protect thee.
Hon.Celestial Powers! again the airy voice
Of some prophetic spirit strikes my soul
With petrifying sounds! Perhaps this cave,
Fill’d with enchantment, is the dark abode
Of spectres horrible, whose bleeding wounds
Make ghastly show of murder unavenged!
An icy langour creeps along my veins,
Forewarning me of danger near at hand!79 K4r 79
My father, oh! return.—He hears me not!
Where shall I hide me? all within is death!
And all without, a solitary wild,
Bestrew’d with thorns and perilous to tread!
This inner cavern will be less exposed
To the night’s nipping air—The Robbers rush forth.
O God! defend me! What is your intent?
I do expect some mercy, as you hope
yourselves to be forgiven!
2d Rob.What are you, lady?
Hon.The wretched offspring of a wretched sire;
A wandering exile from my native home;
Too poor for plunder, and too proud to weep;
For I believe that virtue bears a charm
Which bids the boldest villain shrink appall’d.
3d. Rob.Seizing Honoria. Nay, if you brave us—you shall know our power!
Ric.Ruffian! stand back. Sweet lady, you are safe!
For he that lifts his sacrilegious hand
To strike at helpless woman, shames mankind,
And sinks his coward soul so deep in hell,
That nature scorns to own him! Spare your thanks;
I will defend you; we are desperate men;
But cruelty can never urge that sword
Which courage vaunts the bearing.
Now I can weep! But they are thankful tears!
Wrongs urge the soul to vengeance, and call forth
That pride which proves the antidote to grief;
But kindness steals so sweetly o’er the sense,
So melts the throbbing heart with tender joy,
That, as the sun darts forth amidst the storm,
The eye of grateful rapture beams through tears!
Ric.Soon must I leave you, for the hour draws near
Which calls us to our watchful occupation.
Hon.Kneeling to Ricardo. O! hear me.
If in your pathway you should chance to meet
A venerable man, for my sake spare him!
His years are nearly number’d; let him live
To make his peace with Heaven! for much, I fear,
He’s not prepared for death.
Ric.He shall be safe.
Now, let me counsel you to seek repose.
In yon small cavern lies a rushy couch,
Where innocence may taste of balmy dreams,
For guilt has often slumber’d there secure!
Lady, Heaven guard you!Exeunt banditti.
Hon.Thou art not used to pray! and yet thy voice
May find swift passport to the realms of grace,
When pious fraud may supplicate in vain;
For thou art merciful! Alas! I fear
Some savage thing hath cross’d my father’s way;
The prowling wolf; or, what is far more fell,
Man, without pity for his hapless kind!
Thou solitary den, where guilt retires
To hold fierce converse with the fiends accursed,
Undaunted I approach thee! for that power
Which guards the cradled infant while it sleeps,
Sustains the labouring bark amidst the storm,
And, while the tempest rends the mountain pine,
Shields the poor shepherd’s cot, will not forsake
The child of sorrow in the hour of rest!
Scene II.—Night.On one side, the Apennines, with the entrance of a Cavern half way up; on the other, a thick wood. Enter Valmont.
Val.Oh! what a lost and wretched thing is man!
Who, bold in hell’s worst embassy, will start
At the small rustling of a beetle’s wing!
The wind that moans along these cavern’d cliffs
Seems like the murmurs of a thousand tongues
That tell my soul’s undoing! The faint stars,
The many-million eyes of prying Heaven,
Gleam humid, and surcharged with nature’s tears!
Yet what of that? ’Tis but my mind’s disease,
That feeds faint reason with portentous signs,
And makes it sicken at the touch of thought!
What have I not committed that Heaven loathes?
First, in the ghastly train of hellish crimes,
A noble brother, who in my defence
Slew a proud Milanese, beheld in me
His cursed accuser; and, to exile driven,
Left me the lord of all his vast domains.
Next, a chaste wife I banish’d from her home;
My fickle sense was sated with her charms,
And meaner beauties triumph’d in their turn!
Where shall my feverish conscience find repose?
All the long sunny day, when Summer smiles,
And leads old Time in flowery garlands on,
A living spectre, hopeless and forlorn,
I journey forth to an oblivious grave?
Nor at that fearful goal will the dread strife
Feel blissful termination; for beyond
The rending pangs that warn the trembling soul
From its clay habitation, reason tells
Of something terrible! and yet so sure,
That nature starts to think on’t! Hark, what stirs?Alferenzi appears in the wood, and the day begins to dawn.
Is it the potent fever of my brain
That takes my coward fancy prisoner,
Or do I hear the sound of mortal tread?After listening and looking round.
’Twas but the waving of the sun-parch’d boughs,
Whose tawny canopy o’erspreads the wood.
Val.Horrible spectre! wherefore dost thou haunt me?
Why from the shrouded pallet of the grave
Present the form of murder’d Alferenzi?
In pity hence; for know, that spirits pure
Can hold no converse with a damned wretch,
In whose convulsive soul all hell is raging!
Alf.Valmont, thy hour draws near;
I know thee, and will try what guardian fiend
Will blunt my sword, uplifted to destroy thee!
What wraps thee so in horrible conceit?
Val.Thick mystery! that dims the mental eye,
And makes us, scarce believe us that we are,
Seeing, what cannot be! ’Tis all illusion.
Alf.Strike at my heart, inexorable parent!
Or guard thy own, for one of us must fall.Drawing his sword.
Val.If Alferenzi lives, then all is well!
Alf.All is not well, prevaricating slave!
Draw, draw thy sword; let Heaven decide between us.
Val.Drawing his sword. Then be it so! Though thou hast once escaped;
Thou’rt not invulnerable: now, come on;
I’ll teach thy tongue to quell its lofty phrase,
Or perish in the combat.
Hon.Oh! spare him! spare him! Alferenzi drops his sword.
Barbarian, do not kill an aged man,
Or stay thy sword, and let me perish with him.
Alf.Thou sainted spirit! shade of my Honoria!
That, like an angel, comest to turn my sword,
And save my soul, thirsting for blood of man,
Do not approach me! every trembling nerve
Obeys thy potent eye, and the cold drops
That bathe my brain will quench the ray of reason.
Hon.Val.Valmont. leans against a tree. He lives! he lives! It is my Alferenzi!
Light of my life! dearer than life itself!Embracing.
Oh! do these eyes behold thee once more breathing?
My father, here, before the face of Heaven,
Kneel, and adore the minister of pity,
Who, bending from its sphere, restores him to us!Valmont appears pale and faint. Honoria supports him,
Speak! art thou hurt? Hah! from thy mangled breast
The life-stream gushes! Ye relentless powers!
Turn not the measure of my joy to wo!Valmont falls; Honoria kneels.
Let me support thee: look upon thy child:
Oh! speak, for I must hear thy voice once more,
To say, that thou forgivest me: Save him, Heaven!
Val.Sweet image of a chaste and injured saint!
A dying father’s blessing shall be thine.
Hon.Thou shalt not die; I cannot live to see
Those darling eyes closed in the sleep of death!
Val.Brave Alferenzi! I believed thee murder’d;
In the dark-tangled wood that skirts our castle,
I saw thee fall, thrice wounded by my sword.
Alf.Thy victim was duke Albert! Hapless Valmont,
Heaven’s sure to hear when murder cries for justice!
Hon.Oh! misery supreme! oh! my lost father!
Val.If yet the noble Leonardo lives,
Seek out his lone asylum, and restore
The just possession of his rich domains;
Tell him, that Heaven at last avenged his wrongs,
And humbled his proud brother to the dust!
Now let me press thee to my streaming heart;To Honoria.
Alas! my parting sigh will soon extinguish
The feeble lamp of life, and my last pang
Pay the dread forfeit which my crimes demand!
Hon.To Alf.Alferenzi Now, is thy rage appeased? If thy fell soul
Still pants for Valmont’s blood, strike here! this heart,
This bursting heart, will scorn to sue for pity.
Alf.Do not distract me with thy fierce reproaches;
A dread coincidence of time and act
Drew me from Reason’s empire to Despair!
Dire and disastrous as the deed may seem,
’Twas to avenge thy wrongs that I am guilty;
For I believed that Valmont—thy assassin!
Let me entreat thee to be patient, love.
Hon.Hence with thy feign’d contrition! my weak brain
Burns with the frenzy thou hast heap’d upon it.
Alf.This sight will make thee mad! Quit, quit the scene,
Nor feed the gnawing anguish of thy soul.
Soon will I bear thee to my native shores,
Where, ’midst the fond endearments of new friends,
Of noble kindred, and resplendent joys,
The memory of past grief shall fade away.
Hon.Rising. Oh! ’twill not be! This is my destined home!
I’d rather wander like a pilgrim poor!
Toil, like a slave who in the torrid blaze
Curses the sun that mark’d him for despair,
Than journey thither: here will I remain.
Oh! the vast sum of my disastrous life
Seems like an atom to this world of wo!Honoria returns to the body. 81 L1r 81
Yet let me kiss that cheek, pale and distorted.
Stern was thy aspect, yet my soul would give
Half its dear hopes of an immortal crown
To see those eyes but once more gaze upon me.
But they are dark, closed in the sleep of death.
Alf.Let me conceal thee in some spot secure,
While to the earth I give this breathless corse.
I do not covet life, deprived of thee,
And wilt thou doom me to the torturing rack?
Canst thou behold this throbbing, loyal heart,
Mangled and bleeding as a public show?
Wilt thou not shudder when the rabble’s shout
Shall drown the agonizing groan of death?
Hon.Oh! do not torture me; alas! my soul
Already shrinks beneath its weight of grief.
Wherefore deny a murder’d father’s dust
The holy incense of a filial tear?
No other rite will consecrate his grave!
Alf.Delay brings danger; see, the purple dawn
Is gayly tissued o’er with beamy gold!
The merry birds begin their matin songs,
And new-born glory animates the scene!
Let me conceal thee in yon cavern’d cliff.
Hon.Ha! now I do bethink me, wretched man!
This is no place for parley! Yon dark cave
Is the dread haunt of robbers: get thee hence;
Danger and death await thee! Oh! begone.
Alf.What! leave thee to the mercy of banditti?
Forsake thee, helpless, faint, forlorn and sad,
To be the victim of wild rioters!
The sport of ruffians—lawless, cut-throat knaves!
Beside yon mountain a poor clay-built shed
I slightly noted as I pass’d along;
Fly, fly thee thither; I will follow soon.
Hon.Oh! dread alternative! oh! cruel task!
Betake thyself to flight, ill-fated man!
For we must meet no more! One little word,
One parting sigh, still struggles at my heart!
Ha! look not so upon me! Is it thus
Our intercourse must end? our radiant morn
Of love, and hope, and youth, and tender joy,
Shadow’d by sorrow, and convulsed with storms!—
Go to thy splendid home, thy friends await thee;
Death is preparing in the silent tomb
A lonely bed, where I shall sleep at peace.Exit.
Alf.Now in yon cave will I conceal this corse;
And then, O God! teach me to hide myself
From my own knowledge! Busy, busy thought,
Away, and let oblivion be thy grave!
Scene I.—A Wood. Morning.Enter the Prince Montalva and Francisco.
Mon.’Twas at the entrance of this lonely wood
My mules were to be station’d—are they come?
Fran.Not yet, my lord; so, please you, wait awhile
In this cool shade; the sun swift journeys high,
And soon will shed intolerable day.
Mon.Is there no lowly hut where we may rest?
Affliction preys upon my feeble frame,
And bends me to the earth: I fain would live
A little while, to do an act of justice.
My vassals all are arm’d, and on the watch,
And yet we have no tidings! Let us seek
Some hospitable shed to stay their coming.
Fran.Among the craggy hills, not far from hence,
An hermit dwells; a poor, but holy man!
Time that has furrow d o’er his meagre cheek
Ne’er saw it blush for any act of shame:
His herds, his vineyard, foster’d by his hand,
Repay his labours with that homely fare
Which conscious virtue renders passing sweet!
If in so low a dwelling you can rest,
I think you’ll be right welcome.
Mon.Well I know,
’Tis not beneath the gilded dome of state,
Nor ’midst the gaudy sycophantic tribe,
That peace delights to dwell; she bends her way
To the poor hermit’s hospitable roof,
Where liberty, the fairest child of Heaven!
Smiles on his board, and with her sacred voice
Bids him look down upon the high-born base,
Though great in splendour, if they’re less than men.
Now to the mountain hut. Lead on, Francisco.
Scene II.—Among the Apennines. Leonardo, as an hermit, comes forth from a small hut, with two baskets and a wicker bottle.Enter the Prince Montalva and Francisco.
Fran.Good father, bless you!
Leon.Thanks for your greeting;
And bless you, gentle son; is it your wish
To stay awhile, and mend your strength with food?
Mont.We’ll enter, honest heart, with your good leave;
And for your cheer will recompense you nobly.
Leon.Divine benevolence repays itself;
And much it grieves me to deny your suit:
But my good-will is shackled by restraint,L 82 L1v 82
While seeming churlishness, in truth, is pity.
Mont.We will not be denied.
Leon.Guarding his hut, and setting down his basket, &c. Sooth, but you must!
Not for an empire should your footsteps pass
This narrow threshold. I will bring you food.
Fran.What dost thou mean? Thy miserable hut
Hath never shelter’d yet a guest so noble.
Leon.Think’st thou I prize the gifts which fortune owns?
If he has true nobility of soul,
He towers above the attributes of wealth,
And wants no other charm to make him great!
But wherefore scoff at this, my poor abode?
It is mine own—these withered hands did raise it:
My board is simply strew’d; but what of that?
’Tis with the gifts of heaven! and who shall say
The proudest mortal can be better fed?
I flatter no man, and am no man’s slave!
My garb is coarse and scant; but let the vain,
Wrapp’d in the vital labours of the worm,
Say if their pulses beat as calm as mine!
No bed of down or canopy of gold
Here pampers feverish luxury to rest;
But on my lonely pillow temperance waits,
And prompts repose that splendour cannot give!
How many deck’d in all the pride of state,
With ermine stole, and starry wreath of gems,
Would gladly lay their guilty trappings by,
To taste the tranquil joys that mark the hours
In what thou call’st, my miserable hut!
Mont.Taking out his purse. Then do not act the churl; and drive us hence,
Wanting the lowly lodging we would hire
At ten-fold value: this will buy men’s souls,
And tempt the sternest sanctity to sin!
Bid the cold anchoret renounce his vows;
The rosy vestal sell her youthful hopes,
To wed with shrivell’d age; and, with its gloss
So dazzle mortal eyes, that Nature smiles
To see philosophers the slaves of fools,
And her own dross, the bribe of their dishonour.
What cannot gold subdue?
That sympathetic love of human kind
Which instinct cherishes in souls sublime!
Which bids pale misery raise the languid eye,
While the recording cherub seals the bond
That Heaven repays with rapture!
Mont.Thy words most strangely contradict thy deeds!
Thou talk’st of kindness, yet with churlish mien
Bidst the lorn traveller with hunger faint.
Shame on the wretch who vaunts humanity
But to draw forth the misery he mocks,
With curious eye to scrutinize the heart,
And yet refuse the pity that would heal it!
He has no right to pry into my fortunes
Who has no tear to mitigate their woes!
Leon.Nay, now you rate me with reproach so keen,
That my old eyes are drown’d in drops of grief!
Full twenty winters have my weary feet
Trod the white pathway of these frozen hills;
Yet never did I bar my humble cell
Against the traveller faint; but I have sworn,
And may I perish if I break my oath,
To shield from every eye the gorgeous gem
That casket rude contains! Forth I repair’d
To gather fruits and rob the limpid spring
For my sweet fugitive, who seems most sad
And vanquish’d by despair. Are ye not men?
And can ye blame or wonder at the zeal
That snatches beauteous woman from the grave?
Long have I braved the bleak and stormy wind;
Forsworn all intercourse with worldly joy;
Lived a poor hermit, cheerless and alone!—
When the fann’d snow fell fast upon my roof,
Whole nights I’ve listen’d to the howling wolves;
Fear never thrill’d my heart, nor blanch’d my cheek;—
Yet have I not the courage to behold
A fellow creature fall, whom I could save!
Mont.A task so pious must not be delay’d.
Pursue thy way, good heart, and, trust my word,
I will not trespass, or with curious eye
Profane thy dwelling blest! but near the door
Will watch with zeal so pure, that none shall dare
To pass the threshold.
Leon.I will soon return;
My vineyard is hard by: be of good cheer.Exit Leonardo.
Fran.Oft have I seen this melancholy sage,
When by the side of these snow-mantled cliffs
I chased the fire-eyed wolf. His manners mild
And hospitable cell have spread his fame
Beyond the borders of the rushing Po;
For many an infant, on its grandsire’s knee,
With fond attention and inquiring eye,
Prattles of good Anselmo.
He that is named the hermit of the cliffs?
Fran.The same; and much it moves surprise in all,
That so much virtue, and so rich a mind,
Should give to solitude their cheerless days.Re-enter Leonardo.
Leon.First to my beauteous fugitive, and then
Together we will make our healthful meal.
Here, courteous stranger, spread the frugal treat
On the green bank, and I’ll return to bless it.
Leon.She sleeps! The weary senses charged with grief
Are numb’d by their own anguish, stealing health
E’en from the poison that did sicken them!
Mont.In truth, good hermit, you excite my wonder!
Nor can ingenious reason find a cause
Why choice should lead you to a spot so drear,
That spurr’d necessity recoils to view it!
Leon.Alas! a story so replete with wo,
So full of horror, will but move your pity!
Sprung from an ancient race, my morn of life
Gave the bright earnest of a lustrous day;
But in those hours when young intemperate blood
Seizes the fever of uncurb’d desire,
It is not strange that reason’s sober ray
Was quench’d and smother’d by impetuous breath.
A friend!—Oh! how did he blaspheme the name!—
Woo’d a sweet lady: she was Milan’s rose;
That shed rich lustre on each humbler flower!
Her sire adored her, and with tender care
Sought such alliance as might grace her birth.
My friend was but his father’s youngest son,
And small his means, compared with his descent.
One fatal night, ’twas when the blushing spring
Fann’d my warm bosom with the austral breeze,
Flush’d with the grape, in merry, harmless mood,
Beneath her lofty window we repair’d,
And, with the dulcet tinkling Mandolin,
Beguil’d her of her rest. The father watch’d,
And on my young associate fiercely sprang,
Who, all unarm’d, was sinking to the ground.
Mont.So fell my gallant boy! and did he perish?
Leon.Urged on to frenzy by this bold assault,
I rush’d between them, saved the friend I loved,
And smote the barbarous ruffian on the breast:
He fell, his own stiletto reach’d his heart!
’Twas a rash deed, but could I tamely see
The dear companion of my youthful days
Vanquish’d and murder’d by a villain’s hand?
Mont.And did he wed the cause of your mishap?
Leon.He did; and to requite my honest zeal,
Turn’d, like a serpent, on my fostering breast,
And stung the heart that loved him! With fell rage,
Threaten’d, himself, to be my base accuser,
And spurn’d me from him like a guilty slave!
Disgusted with the treachery of his soul,
I fled; and from that fatal hour have been
The solitary tenant of this cell,
The scene of meditation, prayer, and peace!
Mont.Cursed be the villain, wheresoe’er he dwells!
Leon.Oh! do not curse him; for he was— my brother!
Mont.Of noble birth, and yet so vile a soul!
Leon.All outward semblance of attractive grace,
Hereditary splendours, beauty, valour,
Wit, learning, fancy, eloquence divine!
Where godlike virtue dwells not in the soul,
May feed upon the vapour, adulation,
And boast an unsubstantial glittering name,
That dazzles only for a fleeting day.
But innate glory shall outstrip the grave!
And shine when all of pageantry and pride,
Like the false meteors on the wings of night,
Shall waste in empty air!
Mont.Mysterious Heaven! Honoria still alive! Aside.
Hon.Hapless Montalva! whither bend thy way?
I counsel thee to seek thy peaceful home,
Nor thus pursue the phantom of revenge.
Remember, he who can forgive his foe,
Is nobler far than he that bids him die!
We all can kill; and, vaunting our own strength
We crush the thing we hate; but can we give
The spark that bids the meanest reptile breathe!
Oh! did the powerful dare with impious rage
To murder the defenceless, who, alas!
Could look with rapture for to-morrow’s dawn?
Mont.I go to seek the murderer of my son.
Hon.Then spare thy feeble age such thriftless toil;
The murderer of thy son sleeps in the grave!
He was as dear to this afflicted heart
As Albert was to thine.
Thy caution thinly veils the wretch thou lov’st;
That villain, Alferenzi, was’t not he?
Hon.Old man, I will not tell thee who it was;
For, if his death will not appease thy wrath,
Thou hast no Christian mercy in thy soul,
And art not worth my pity!
Alf.Speaking without. Where is this cell, good fellow?
Thou dost not give thy feet that willing zeal
Which my impatience urges. Montalva!Enter Alferenzi. Seeing Montalva and Honoria, he stops suddenly and amazed.
Hah! how is this? Am I at last betray’d?
My feet seem rooted to this speck of earth,
And guilty pangs convulse my tortured frame!
Shake off thy blood-stain’d garb, my trembling soul,
And let a brighter semblance cheat men’s eyes.
It will not be! I dare not meet their glance.
Hon.To Alferenzi, aside. Thy crime is secret as the will of Heaven.
Alf.Montalva and Leonardo talk aside.
I cannot spurn this busy fiend away:
Is this what men call conscience? Oh! ’tis hell!
I am a wretch, a coward! Leave me, leave me.
Mon.Well may’st thou start, and tremble at my gaze,
Thou homicide abhorred! now meet thy fate;
’Tis Albert’s sword that strikes thee.
Honoria.Rushing between them. He did not kill thy son; the murderer was――
Hon.My father! Marquis Valmont.
Hon.Oh! all ye hosts of heaven! Do I behold
The venerable, noble Leonardo!
Leo.Let my tears answer thee, before their source
Is petrified with wonder! O my child,
Art thou the offspring of ill-fated Valmont?
Mon.Most injured Leonardo, heaven at length
Has paid the recompense thy virtues claim’d.
We will return to Valmont, where thy life
Shall, like the sun that triumphs o’er the storm,
Amidst resplendent glory sink to rest!
Leon.Now let us, in my solitary cell,
Refresh our weary spirits for a time;
Then each shall tell his melancholy tale,
And shed a kindly sympathetic tear,
To wash away the traces of past wo!
Alf.Ah! stay, Honoria! Do not leave me thus;
Look up, my love, nor let affliction’s shaft
Bathe in the ruby current of thy heart.
Time will wear out these dark corroding spots,
And wing thy hours with joy!
Hon.Oh! Never! Never.
Time, that with ceaseless labour can unfold
The wondrous page of nature! that can lay
The loftiest temples level with their base!
Steal the soft graces of the fairest form,
And, by the shadow of his restless wing,
Eclipse the sun of intellectual light!
Can bring no meliorating balm, to heal
The wounded sense, where memory still lives!
Day after day the cankering worm, reflection,
Feeds on the withering fibres of the heart,
And poisons all its hopes!
Alf.Where wouldst thou seek repose, oh! tell me, sweet?
Hon.In death! where he whose undelighted days
Have been but tardy scenes of chequered wo,
Assail’d by poverty, despair, and pain!
On the same pillow lays his weary head
Where kings must sleep, when earthly power shall fade,
And nature whispers, here thy journey ends!
Alf.Think not so deeply, love; oh! look upon me;
Thy Alferenzi’s fate is link’d with thine.
Hon.That I have loved thee, Heaven can bear me witness,
Beyond what truth can paint or fancy form!
With thee I could have lived, and been content,
Beneath some mountain hovel’s rushy roof;
Have shared the busy task of daily toil,
And smiled and sung the weary hours away!
When gaudy summer deck’d the glowing scene,
I would have trimm’d our citadel of joy,
Have call’d our humble meal a princely feast,
Our myrtle bower a canopy of state!
Or when stern winter swept the frozen plain,
And tumbling torrents drown’d the valley’s pride,
I would have crept, half trembling, to thy arms,
And mock’d the howling of the midnight storm!
But visionary scenes of joy are past;
Horror and guilt assail where’er I turn,
And all is anguish, frenzy, and despair!
Alf.Dress not thy fancy in such weeds of grief!
Let hope and love enchant thee to repose.
Hon.Can love or hope restore a parent lost?
Ah! little dost thou know the tender claims
That bind in feathery spells each vagrant thought.
Love should be gentle as the twilight breeze,
And pure as early morn’s ambrosial tears,
Spangling the lily on the mountain’s side.
I cannot wed the murderer of my father!
Alf.Oh! do not call it murder! He whose life
Pays the due forfeit to offended Heaven,
Having by outrage blurr’d his country’s laws,
Deserves that country’s hate; and only falls
To benefit her safety.
Hon.Yes; but when rigour cherish’d by revenge,
Treads on the heels of justice, thrusting back
Humanity itself, the trembling scale
Preponderates at will, and makes the deed
Scarce less than legal murder! Be resign’d,
Appease the wrath of Heaven, and let me rest!
Alf.O hope! inconstant as the summer gales
That kiss the fragrant bosom of the rose,
Thou shalt no more beguile me: I awake!
Conviction tells me, in this wondrous mass,
All joy is transient, and the fairest scenes
Fraught with deception! Earth, air, seas; e’en man
Deceives, while most he is himself deceived,85 L3r 85
Glozing with smiles the hypocrite he hates!
The flowery path we tread is sprinkled o’er
With poisonous weeds, and dews that threaten death.
The skilful pilot plought his glittering way,
Nor fears the coming danger, till the deep,
Blackening and foaming, now a yawning gulf,
And now a liquid mountain, swells with rage,
And the gay gallant bark—is seen no more!
The eagle grandly soars to greet the sun;
Sweeps the bland concave with his lordly wing,
And revels in the plentitude of day!
Soon, on the viewless pinions of the storm,
The rolling clouds obscure the beamy plains,
Th’ imprison’d lightnings break their sulphur bonds,
And ’midst the blaze th’ exulting tyrant dies!
Oh! blissful termination of all ills!
Ambrosial drop that lingers in the dregs
Of Fate’s embitter’d cup! oblivious death!
Would I could taste thee, and forget my woes!
But coward misery clings to airy hope,
Grasping from hour to hour a feeble chain,
Which breaks at last, and hurls him to despair!
Scene I.—The Front of an old Monastery; with a View of the Apennines at Sun-set.Enter Honoria.
Hon.Here, in this awful, this monastic gloom,
I trust my weary soul will find repose!
As late I stood upon the cavern’d cliff,
Listening the cataract’s desolating roar,
I mark’d the spires of this lone habitation
Red with the lustre of the sinking sun!
The solemn silence that surrounds these walls
Well suits the shrine of holy meditation,
And feasts the mind with luxury of thought.
This is the goal where, faint with life’s dull toil,
The feeble wo-worn traveller stops, and smiles
To know the busy hour of grief is past!
For, after all, what is this feverous state?
A transient day of sun-shine and of storms;
A path, bestrew’d with thorns and roseate wreaths;
We journey on with hope, or lag with fear,
Still, minute after minute, cheating time,
Till, at the close, we stumble on the grave.Light appears through the painted windows of the Chapel.
It is the hour of vespers, which prepares
The mind serene of virgin innocence
For slumbers undisturb’d by ruthless care;
Oh, apathy! thou kindly numbing power!
Thou opiate! rivalling the Theban drug,
Lulling the nimble passions of the soul,
And binding fast in sweet oblivious spells
The wild rebellious fancy, here thou dwell’st.
But I shall know thee not; my weary life
Unfading memory presents before me,
Dark as the clouds that shroud the coming storm,
When will the day-star rise, that shall proclaim
My morn eternal in the realms of bliss.
Con.I heard the voice of misery complaining,
While at the holy altar of our saint;
And Heaven forbid the temple of religion
Should e’er be shut against the child of wo!
Hon.Alas! I ask but little, reverend mother.
Con.Make your request; I only wait your will.
Hon.A lonely speck of consecrated earth!
A narrow pallet in the silent grave!
Con.Have you no kindred to relieve your cares?
Hon.I had a father when the sun did rise.
Con.And does he let thee wander thus forlorn!
Where is he, gentle stranger?
Hon.He’s in Heaven!
Is he in Heaven?—Yes, yes; I hope he is!
He was a very stern and rash old man;
But still he was my father. He is gone!
Cold drops of blood freeze on his silver hairs.
Like the small flowers that peep through Alpine snow!
Con.Holy Saint Peter! Was he murder’d, lady?
Hon.Confused. I fear he was: most sure I am he died!
His cheek was pale, and petrified, and cold!—
But I entreat you let us change the matter,
For ’tis a wounding subject; and, alas!
I own I’m strangely wild when I do think on’t!
Con.Oh! my heart feels thy sorrows in its own;
Like thee, sweet maid, in youth’s exulting bloom,
I found within these solitary walls
A blest asylum from oppressive wo!
My noble kindred long have mourn’d me lost;
For since this awful sancturay I sought
No tidings have I sent to tell my fate.
Hon.Indeed! I pray you, do not count my youth
Too apt and forward, if with curious speech
I question you, how long in this deep gloom
Your beauty has been shrouded from the world?
Con.Just twenty summers, half my days of wo,
Here have I pass’d sequester’d and unknown.
So long has sufferance borne affliction’s thorn,
Deep rankling in the breast of wedded love.
Hon.Of wedded love! art thou then married? Speak!
Con.Oh! would I were not! But th’ omniscient power,
I trust, in pity, will, with tenfold joys,
Requite my child for all her mother’s wrongs!
If yet she breathes, Heaven shower down bless ings on her,
And guide her through this wilderness of wo!86 L3v 86
Oh! could I once behold her ere I die,
Could I but clasp her in my fond embrace,
I would forgive her father’s cruel scorn
And bless the name of Valmont.
Hon.Oh! ’tis she!
I am thy child! thy loved, thy lost Honoria!
The hapless offspring of the murder’d Valmont.
Con.Support me, Heaven!
Hon.Supporting her. What has my rashness done?
Oh! do not leave me, angel! mother! Speak!
Honoria calls thee! let not death’s fell grasp
Tear the fond parent from her long lost child!Constantia revives.
She lives! she breathes! Oh! cherish in thy heart
The only comfort of thy widow’d days:They embrace.
We will, when fainting hope denies to cheer us,
Mingle our tears, and smile at ruthless fate,
In all the proudest luxury of wo!
By day I’ll strew thy lonely path with flowers,
And all the live-long night thy slumbers watch,
And chant my orisons for blessings on thee!
Con.Alas! my child! such pious hopes are vain;
Here must I stay for ever! Thou art born
For gaudier scenes of splendour and delight!
Hon.Not for the globe’s vast treasures would I leave thee!
Thou shalt return to Valmont; to thy home;
The noble Leonardo’s close of life
Will bloom a second spring of youth and joy,
Blest in the converse of a saint like thee!
Con.That cannot be; nor must thou here be known.
My vows for ever bind me to this goal,
Where, till my last funereal peal shall sound,
My vesper prayers, my early matin songs,
Must still confirm my solemn league with Heaven.
Thou art o’erwhelm’d with persecuting wo;
Come, let me lead thee to the shrine of peace.
Hon.Oh! best of angels! Here will I remain;
This venerable pile shall be our tomb,
Where we will rest together! Moss-grown shrines,Approaching the gate.
Where persecution shrinks from pity’s gaze,
And penitence prepares the soul for heaven,
Oh! welcome to my dreary feverish soul!
Scene II. A thick Wood. Night. The Convent’s painted windows seen at a distance.Enter Alferenzi, meeting an old Peasant.
Alf.Well! hast thou found her? Every tangled dell,
Each thorny labyrinth, and lonely glade,
In vain I’ve search’d and traversed o’er and o’er!
I will not lose her so! What, like a coward,
Yield up my hopes, and be the passive fool
That fortune makes her plaything? All is still!
The moping bat has wheel’d his circling flight,
And hies him weary to his haunted home!
No wandering insect winds his little horn
To bid the drowsy traveller beware,
While perilous oblivion grasps the scene!
Oh! if I find her not, the gathering mists,
That hasten round us on unwholesome wings,
Will chill her gentle bosom—
Pea.Heaven forefend! Lightning.
’Twill be a stormy hour. Oh! gracious Sir!
In truth my heart is sorely wrung with pity;
For countless are the dangers that beset
The midnight wanderer in these lonely haunts;
Nor are the famish’d wolves that roam for prey
More to be dreaded than the lawless swords
Of merciless banditti!
Alf.I fear them not. Thunder and lightning.
Horrors on horrors crowd so thick upon me,
That pall’d imagination, sick’ning, spurns
The sanity of reason! man can but bear
A certain portion of calamity;
For when the pressure heap’d upon the brain
O’erwhelms the active faculties of thought,
The pang acute subsides, and leaves the mind
A chaos wild of gorgeous desolation!
Pea.I hear the feet of passengers; their steps
Give hollow signal on the sun-burnt ground.
Alf.Here, take this good stiletto, honest carle,
And guard thy breast, if any ill should threaten.
1st. Rob.My poniard is prepared with mortal poison,
And he that feels it dies.Lightning.
[Alferenzi,p[Perceiving the Robbers by the lightning.
Alf.Ruffian! thou know’st thy life is in my power;
Now tell me, if in this sequester’d gloom
A beauteous lady met thee? quickly speak,
Or thou shalt perish!
2d. Rob.Such a one I met,
And saw her towards the convent bend her way;
Yon light will guide you thither; she is safe.
I could not harm the maid, she look’d so lovely!
Alf.Oh! Caitiff! if thou hadst, thy barbarous soul
Should in the lowest hell have howl’d for mercy!
One act of virtue cancels all thy crimes;
So take thy life; repent, for I forgive thee.Exit Robber.
How much more merciful this villain seems,
Who on the instant gives the mortal wound,87 L4r 87
Than he who by oppression wrings the heart,
And makes the wretch spin a long thread of life,
Steep’d in perpetual tears! The storm is past;
Thou know’st this convent! let us hasten thither.
Pea.Good noble youth, you faint; your voice doth faulter.
Alf.’Tis but a trifle; ’twas the coward’s sword
That slightly pierced my side. Now lead the way;
If I behold her angel face once more,
Not all the demons of despair shall part us.
Scene III.—The Chapel of the Convent.An altar, &c. The corpse of Honoria on a bier in the middle of the aisle, covered with a white transparent pall, edged with black velvet. As the curtain rises slowly, the nuns, arranged round the chapel, sing a solemn dirge, beginning low, and rising to full chorus. That done, the first nun comes forward, and the other nuns arrange themselves in a semicircle that hides the bier.
1st Nun.Thus have we offer’d up our fervent prayers
For the meek spirit of this beauteous maid.
Her mien bespoke her noble; and her breast
Seem’d the rich casket which contain’d a jewel
Glowing with native and resplendent light!
Ere from her fading lip the quivering breath
Fled its fair mansion, to my care she gave
This costly picture: Take it, pious sister,
Take it, she cried, and keep with holy awe
The once-loved image of my Alferenzi!
That done, she knelt, and raised her eyes to Heaven—
Her piercing eyes—dark as her adverse fortune!
Breathed a short prayer, and, like a spotless flower,
Bow’d by the pitiless and pelting storm,
Sunk to the earth, and died! Who knocks so loud?A loud knocking at the Convent gate,
Alf.Oh! pious sisters, frown not on my rashness;
I am a man the most accursed and wretched!
Driven by the deadly storm of rending passions
To this my last asylum! Have ye seen,
Since evening’s star peer’d in the golden west,
A drooping angel, agonized with grief?
More sweet than infant innocence, more pure
Than sainted spirits journeying to the sky?The Nun turns from him.
Speak; and, if pity dwells within your breast,
Do not behold me perish!
Nun.Showing the picture. Know’st thou this?
Alf.Oh! I have found her, for exulting bliss
Springs to my heart, and triumphs o’er despair!
This is the proud meridian of my days,
And my last glowing hour shall set in joy!
Now, call her forth; tell her ’tis Alferenzi;
She will, in pity, answer to the summons.
Alf.Wildly. Hah! Who has done this deed?
Is that her wedding suit? How pale she looks!
Soft; do not wake her; she is sick with sorrow;
The priest is waiting, and the perfumed bands
Are gaily strew’d about the holy shrine;
I mark’d the spangling drops that hung upon them;
Some said that they were dying lover’s tears;
Were they not right? Soft, soft; where am I?
My senses much deceive me, or that corse,
So beautiful in death, is Valmont’s daughter!
Con.Where is the wretch whose bold and impious rage
Has dared profane the sacred rites of wo?
Alf.I came to seek the gem of this world’s wonders!
But she, too precious for this hated earth,
Now beams a constellation in that Heaven
Where I shall never see her! Oh! I loved her,
Better, far better, than I loved my soul,
For in here cause I gave it to perdition!
Con.Ill-fated man! See in this faded form
The wife of haughty Valmont; twenty years
Have pass’d, in silent solitary grief,
Since I beheld my persecuted child.
Oh! my long-lost, my beautiful Honoria!
My earliest comfort, and my last fond hope!
I did not think to close thy eyes in death,
Or bathe thy ashes with a mother’s tears!Kneels by the corpse of Honoria.
Alf.Is there on earth a wretch so cursed as I?
What is my crime, ye minsters of hell,
That persecution, with a scorpion scourge,
Should drive me to the precipice of fate?
E’en there, the fiend will on the margin greet me,
And, as I gaze upon the gulph below,
Where mad revenge stands ’midst the foaming surge,
And smiling feeds upon the hearts of men,
Will snatch me back to linger in despair!
Is there no yawning grave in the green ocean,
No deadly venom in the teeming earth,
No lightning treasured in the stagnant air,
To end my weary pilgrimage of pain?
Peas.Tempt not the rage of Heaven with impious breath.
Alf.Approaching the bier. Yet let me look upon her: ’Twill not be! 88 L4v 88
A burning torrent rushes through each nerve,
And more than frenzy feeds upon my brain!
The villian’s sword was steep’d in mortal poison;
Its course, though slow, each antidote defies:
Now, now it freezes, and its icy thrill
Checks the faint current of my withering heart.
I thank thee, Caitiff—thou indeed wert kind!
1st Nun.Restore him, Heaven!
Alf.The fiends surround my soul! They are deceived;
My heart-strings will not break, for they have borne
The miseries of love! Away! away!Falls.
Let the same grave conceal our mouldering ashes;
And if the pilgrim, penitent and poor,
Should drop a tear to consecrate the sod,
I ask no other requiem. Death is kind;
He flings his icy mantle o’er my sense.
And shuts the scene of horror! Oh! farewell!
1st Nun.Farewell, sad victims of ambition’s power!—
Now let us raise to heaven our holy song,
For the freed souls of these ill-fated lovers!
While Nature shrinks to contemplate the scene,
And stern-eyed Justice drops a silent tear,
The angel Pity, bending from the sky,
Shall draw the veil that hides their woes for ever!
The Savage of Aveyron.
’Twas in the mazes of a wood,
The lonely wood of Aveyron,
I heard a melancholy tone:—
It seem’d to freeze my blood!
A torrent near was flowing fast,
And hollow was the midnight blast
As o’er the leafless woods it past,
While terror-fraught I stood!
O! mazy woods of Aveyron!
O! wilds of dreary solitude!
Amid thy thorny alleys rude
I thought myself alone!
I thought no living thing could be
So weary of the world as me,—
While on my winding path the pale moon shone.
Sometimes the tone was loud and sad,
And sometimes dulcet, faint, and slow;
And then a tone of frantic wo:
It almost made me mad.
The burthen was Alone! alone!
And then the heart did feebly groan;—
Then suddenly a cheerful tone
Proclaimed a spirit glad!
O! mazy woods of Aveyron!
O! wilds of dreary solitude!
Amid your thorny alleys rude
I wish’d myself—a traveller alone.
Alone! I heard the wild boy say,—
And swift he climb’d a blasted oak;
And there, while morning’s herald woke,
He watch’d the opening day.
Yet dark and sunken was his eye,
Like a lorn maniac’s, wild and shy,
And scowling like a winter sky,
Without one beaming ray!
Then, mazy woods of Aveyron!
Then, wilds of dreary solitude!
Amid thy thorny alleys rude
I sigh’d to be—a traveller alone.
Alone, alone! I heard him shriek,
’Twas like the shriek of dying man!
And then to mutter he began,—
But, O! he could not speak!
I saw him point to heaven, and sigh,
The big drop trembled in his eye;
And slowly from the yellow sky,
I saw the pale morn break.
I saw the woods of Aveyron,
Their wilds of dreary solitude:
I mark’d their thorny alleys rude,
And wish’d to be—a traveller alone!
His hair was long and black, and he
From infancy alone had been:
For since his fifth year he had seen,
None mark’d his destiny!
No mortal ear had heard his groan,
For him no beam of hope had shone:
While sad he sigh’d—alone, alone!
Beneath the blasted tree.
And then, O! woods of Aveyron,
O! wilds of dreary solitude,
Amid your thorny alleys rude
I thought myself a traveller—alone.
And now upon the blasted tree
He carved three notches, broad and long,
And all the while he sang a song—
Of nature’s melody!
And though of words he nothing knew,
And though his dulcet tones were few,
Across the yielding bark he drew,
Deep sighing, notches three.
O! mazy woods of Aveyron,
O! wilds of dreary solitude,
Amid your thorny alleys rude
Upon this blasted oak no sun beam shone!
And now he pointed one, two, three;
Again he shriek’d with wild dismay;
And now he paced the thorny way,
Quitting the blasted tree.
It was a dark December morn,
The dew was frozen on the thorn:
But to a wretch so sad, so lorn,
All days alike would be!M 90 M1v 90
Yet, mazy woods of Aveyron,
Yet, wilds of dreary solitude,
Amid your frosty alleys rude
I wish’d to be—a traveller alone.
He follow’d me along the wood
To a small grot his hands had made,
Deep in a black rock’s sullen shade,
Beside a tumbling flood.
Upon the earth I saw him spread
Of wither’d leaves a narrow bed,
Yellow as gold, and streak’d with red,
They look’d like streaks of blood!
Pull’d from the woods of Aveyron,
And scatter’d o’er the solitude
By midnight whirlwinds strong and rude,
To pillow the scorch’d brain that throbb’d alone.
Wild berries were his winter food,
With them his sallow lip was dyed;
On chesnuts wild he fed beside,
Steep’d in the foamy flood.
Chequer’d with scars his breast was seen,
Wounds streaming fresh with anguish keen,
And marks where other wounds had been
Torn by the brambles rude.
Such was the boy of Aveyron,
The tenant of that solitude,
Where still, by misery unsubdued,
He wander’d nine long winters, all alone.
Before the step of his rude throne,
The squirrel sported, tame and gay;
The dormouse slept its life away,
Nor heard his midnight groan.
About his form a garb he wore,
Ragged it was, and mark’d with gore,
And yet, where’er ’twas folded o’er,
Full many a spangle shone!
Like little stars, O! Aveyron,
They gleam’d amid thy solitude;
Or like, along thy alleys rude,
The summer dew-drops sparkling in the sun.
It once had been a lady’s vest,
White as the whitest mountain’s snow,
Till ruffian hands had taught to flow
The fountain of her breast!
Remembrance bade the wild boy trace
Her beauteous form, her angel face,
Her eye that beam’d with heavenly grace,
Her fainting voice that blest,—
When in the woods of Aveyron,
Deep in their deepest solitude,
Three barbarous ruffians shed her blood,
And mock’d, with cruel taunts, her dying groan.
Remembrance traced the summer bright,
When all the trees were fresh and green,
When lost, the alleys long between,
The lady pass’d the night:
She pass’d the night, bewilder’d wild,
She pass’d it with her fearless child,
Who raised his little arms, and smiled
To see the morning light.
While in the woods of Aveyron,
Beneath the broad oak’s canopy,
She mark’d aghast the ruffians three,
Waiting to seize the traveller alone!
Beneath the broad oak’s canopy
The lovely lady’s bones were laid;
But since that hour no breeze has play’d
About the blasted tree!
The leaves all wither’d ere the sun
His next day’s rapid course had run,
And ere the summer day was done
It winter seem’d to be:
And still, Oh! woods of Aveyron,
Amid thy dreary solitude
The oak a sapless trunk has stood,
To mark the spot where murder foul was done.
From her the wild boy learn’d alone,
She tried to say, my babe will die!
But angels caught her parting sigh,
The babe her dying tone.
And from that hour the boy has been
Lord of the solitary scene,
Wandering the dreary shades between,
Making his dismal moan!
Till, mazy woods of Aveyron,
Dark wilds of dreary solitude,
Amid your thorny alleys rude
I thought myself alone.
And could a wretch more wretched be,
More wild, or fancy-fraught than he,
Whose melancholy tale would pierce a heart of stone.
Sir Raymond of the Castle. The following little Poems are written after the model of the Old English Ballads, and are inscribed to those who admire the simplicity of that kind of versification.
Near Glaris, on a mountain’s side,
Beneath a shadowy wood,
With walls of ivy compass’d round,
An ancient castle stood.
By all revered, by all adored,
There dwelt a wealthy dame;
One peerless daughter bless’d her age,
A maid of spotless fame.
While one fair son, a gallant boy,
Whose virtue was his shield,
Led on the dauntless sons of war,
Amidst the crimson’d field:
For o’er the land dissention reign’d
Full many a direful year,
And many a heart’s best blood had stain’d
The proud oppressor’s spear.
Young Ella’s charms had spread her fame
O’er all the country wide;
And youths of high descent and brave
Had sought her for their bride.
To win her love Sir Raymond came,
Sprung from a princely race;
Right valiant in each warlike art,
And blest with every grace.
In tournaments renown’d afar,
For manly feats admired;
His brilliant fame, his bold exploits,
The damsel’s bosom fired.
Her blushing cheek, her down-cast eye,
Her secret flame confess’d;
The gallant Raymond’s circling arm
The beauteous Ella press’d.
From her fond mother’s doating eyes
The radiant gem he bore;
The weeping maids and village swains
Beheld her charms no more.
Where the swift billows of the Rhine
Their shining curls disclose,
With many a gilded turret crown’d,
His splendid palace rose.
The festive scene had scarce began,
When near the castle wall
A messenger of warlike mien
On Raymond’s name did call.
Come forth, thou valiant knight, he said,
Thy prowess quickly show,
With speed prepare thy lance and shield
To meet the dauntless foe:
The blood of many a noble Swiss
Doth stain the country round,
And many a brave aspiring youth
Lies vanquish’d on the ground.
The daring chief, whose shining spear
With purple gore is dyed,
Oh! direful news, prepare to meet
The brother of thy bride.
Enraged, the haughty Raymond cried,
Base wretch, receive thy doom!
For thy bold errand thou shalt die
Within a dungeon’s gloom.
Speechless the mournful Ella stood,
Despair her heart did wound,
When from the echoing tower she heard
The trumpet’s dreadful sound.
Her cold wan cheek, her quivering lip,
Bespoke her soul’s deep wo,
From her blue eye the crystal drop
In silent grief did flow.
For shame! shake off those woman’s tears,
The frowning bridegroom cried,
And know, Sir Raymond’s warlike breast
Disdains a timid bride.
In vain you weep, ignoble dame;
Behold yon neighing steed;
My soldiers wait, my bosom burns
To conquer or to bleed.
Forth went the knight:—the frantic bride
To the high rampart flew;
With trembling heart she climb’d the wall
Th’ embattled plain to view.
On either side, by turns she thought
Proud victory graced the field;
Till vanquish’d by her brother’s sword,
She saw her husband yield.
For refuge to his castle gate
The bleeding warrior flew;
And from the battlements on high
His daring gauntlet threw.
Three days from dawn to setting sun
The hardy soldiers stood,
Till faint with toil, by famine press’d,
They saw their chief subdued.
Oh! haste my page, Sir Raymond said,
The captive youth set free,
And bid him to the conqueror’s feet
This message bear from me.
Treasures immense of massy gold,
Rich gems and jewels rare,
As ransom will I freely give,
If he our lives will spare.
If he consents, let garlands green
Thy peaceful brows adorn;
If hostile yet, beneath our walls,
Thrice sound thy bugle-horn.
Gaily he pass’d the outward gate;
But sadly he return’d;
His bugle-horn he sounded thrice,
No wreath his brows adorn’d.
Thy gold, he cried, the conqueror scorns,
He claims thy forfeit life,
Thy precious gems, and jewels rare,
He gives thy beauteous wife.
Your lands are free, your soldiers too,
And for young Ella’s sake,
To prove his truth, the generous chief
This solemn vow did make.
That whatsoe’er she holds most dear,
At morrow’s dawn of day,
Her pages to some distant place
May safely bear away.
At dawn of light fair Ella came,
Fresh as the rose of May;
Sir Raymond in a chest of gold
Her pages bore away!
She pass’d the gate with throbbing heart,
She pass’d the ranks among;
The praises of her peerless charms
Fell fast from every tongue.
Halt, halt! they cried, right noble dame,
’Tis fit we should behold
Whether thy coffer ought contains
But gems and massy gold.
O stay me not, ye gallant youths,
For soon it shall appear
This burnish’d coffer doth contain
All that I hold most dear!
Take heed, my brother, ah, take heed,
Nor break thy sacred word;
Nor let thy kinsman’s blood degrade
The glories of thy sword!
The hero smiled—fair Ella’s cheek
Glow’d with vermillion dye;
Fear chill’d her heart, the starting tear
Stood trembling in her eye.
Subdued, abashed, her brother flew
And snatch’d her to his breast,
Then with an angel’s pitying voice,
The vanquish’d chief address’d:
Come forth, Sir Raymond, valiant knight,
Behold thy peerless wife;
Receive thy sword, and from her hand
Accept thy forfeit life.
Here shall the bloody contest end,
Let peace o’erspread the land;
More homage than the conqueror’s sword
Can beauty’s tears command.
Donald and Mary.
On Scotia’s hills a gentle maid,
The fairest of the rustic throng,
When round the glittering moon-beams play’d,
Oft pour’d her sad and plaintive song,
Her eye was dimm’d with sorrow’s tears,
Which from their azure fountain roll’d;
Her throbbing heart was fraught with fears;
Pale was her cheek, and deadly cold!
By friends forgot, by foes oppress’d,
By Fortune’s chilling frown subdued,
Fierce Frenzy hover’d o’er her breast,
And wither’d Grief her steps pursued:
But, ah, more fatal e’en than those;
The worst of pangs ’twas hers to share;
While Envy, smiling, mock’d her woes—
For Envy feeds on human care.
A gallant youth, of Scottish birth,
Had woo’d and won the gentle maid;
Not all the treasured gems of earth
Like Donald’s music could persuade;
Not all that India’s shores supply,
Or all the wealth of Britain’s isle,
Could charm like Donald’s speaking eye,
Or win the soul like Donald’s smile.
But Glory, lifting high her crest,
His glowing fancy lured to arms;
Fame filled his young and panting breast—
He left his Mary’s world of charms.
Ill-fated Donald fought and bled!
The green sod veil’d his manly form,
While round his dark and clay-cold bed
Bleak blew the wild and wintry storm.
No marble trophies deck’d the spot,
To ask the pensive traveller’s sigh;
No verse to tell his hapless lot,
Or bid the valiant learn to die.
But there the snow-drop, meek and pale,
With morning’s tears would oft o’erflow;
And there the bird of sorrow’s tale
Repeated Mary’s tender wo.93 M3r 93
Ah! who has seen my gallant boy,
In martial trim, and rich array?
Ah! who has heard my only joy
Sing to yon moon his roundelay?
His laurel shines in yonder sky,
The brightest of the starry train;
Though in the grave his beauties lie,
All crimson’d o’er with many a stain.
Ah! have you seen my Donald brave,
Enthroned on yonder passing cloud?
Or gliding o’er yon whitening wave,
Or chaunting, ’midst the tempest loud?
Now, o’er yon hill the day-star peeps,
The merry birds awake to glee;
Low in the grave my Donald sleeps,
Nor hears their song, nor thinks of me!
Give me his sword, of mickle fame,
And give me too, his bonnet gay;
On the green-turf to carve his name,
And decorate his hallow’d clay.
Ye costly graves, where monarchs lie,
With crowns and sceptres, won by birth;
Vainly your glittering baubles vie
With Donald’s sword, and Donald’s worth!
By weeping Evening’s fading light,
Far o’er the thistled heath she stray’d,
Till, lost amidst the frowns of night,
The cold blast chill’d the beauteous maid:
Along the dreary, desert gloom
Her mournful song was heard to glide;
With joy, she said, I meet my doom!
Then sigh’d her Donald’s name—and died!
Llwhen and Gwyneth. From Mr. John Williams’s prose translation of a lately discovered Welsh Poem, preserved in the Collection of Arthur Price, Esq. It is supposed to have been written by Tateisin, in Ben Batridd, 0534A. D. 534.
Written in the year 17821782.
When will my troubled soul have rest?
The blue-eyed Llwhen cried;
As through the murky shade of night
With frantic step she hied.
Now the grey morning’s silvery light,
Dawn’d in the eastern skies,
When at the lofty lattice grate
Her lover’s form she spies.
He lives! she cried, My Gwyneth lives!
Youth of the crimson shield!
The graceful hero of my heart,
The glory of the field!
Come down, my soul’s delight! she said,
Thy blue-eyed Llwhen see!
Yrganvy’s daughter, thy true love,
Who only breathes for thee:
Ah! have you seen a mother’s joy
In cherub sweetness dress’d,
Seized by the numbing hand of death,
Expiring at her breast?
Or the fond maid, whom morrow’s dawn
Had hail’d a wedded fair,
Doom’d to behold her lover’s corse
Scorch’d by the lightning’s glare?
So stood the hopeless, frantic maid,
Yrganvy’s graceful child,
Cold was her cheek, her dove-like eyes
Fix’d in amazement wild!
This panting heart, at length she cried,A sharper pang doth feel Than thine, brave youth, when rent in twain By Banworth’s poison’d steel.
Thrice did he ope the lattice grate,
And thrice he bade adieu;
When, lo! to join the parting shade,
The maiden’s spirit flew!
Anselmo, the Hermit of the Alps.
Where, mingling with Helvetia’s skies,
The snow-clad mountains glittering rise;95 M4r 95
Far from the din of busy life,
From specious fraud, and envious strive;
From trivial joys, and empty show,
And all the taunting tribes of wo;
Deep in a forest’s silent shade,
For holy meditation made,
Anselmo lived!—his humble shed
Rear’d, ’midst the gloom, its rushy head.
Full many a flower, of loveliest hue,
Around his mossy threshold grew:
His little vineyard food supply’d,
His healthful cup the rippling tide;
The wood his tranquil bower of noon,
His midnight lamp the silvery moon;
His simple garb and modest mien,
The emblems of the soul within.
Lost to the world, by all forgot,
No envious fiend assail’d his cot;
His matin prayer, his evening song,
Proclaim’d a conscience void of wrong;
While, with a pure and feeling mind,
He wept the woes of human kind.
For when the young Anselmo try’d
The paths of luxury and pride,
He found in every gaudy scene
Light vanity, with wanton mien,
And base Self-Interest, grovelling guest,
And Envy, with deep-wounded breast,
And Power that spurn’d the hapless race,
And splendour gilding o’er disgrace;
And bold Oppression’s ponderous chain,
To load the groaning sons of pain!
Anselmo’s heart, with virtue stored,
Disgusted every path explored;
For still in each a thorn he found,
Whose hidden point was sure to wound:
Friends murdering with a specious smile,
And kindred bosoms fraught with guile;
And reptiles who, in baseness bold,
Unblushing barter’d love for gold!
Blest might have been his lot obscure!
What cannot patient worth endure?
But, ah! within his feeling heart,
Long-cherish’d Passion fix’d its dart,
And, braving Reason’s powerful aid,
Had bid his cheek’s bright crimson fade.
With every mental joy at strife,
Its poisons dash’d the sweets of life;
Brought Discontent, and all her train,
To wring his soul with ceaseless pain,
Each morn with clouds to cross his way,
To haunt his path at sinking day;
And when his midnight couch he press’d,
With weedy mischiefs sting his breast.
Despairing, lost, perplex’d to find
No balm to heal his tortured mind
At early dawn, at twilight’s close,
Still wounding thought deny’d repose.
In vain, to quit the maid adored,
Anselmo solitude explored:
For e’en amidst the glooms around
Her peerless beauty still he found.
In every rose her blushing cheek
Seem’d with resistless grace to speak;
The lily fair, in perfumes drest,
Pourtray’d her spotless fragrant breast;
The stream, reflecting back the sky,
Brought to his mind her azure eye;
The sun, in amber lustre roll’d,
Glow’d like her locks of silky gold;
The lonely turtle’s plaintive moan
Recall’d her song’s celestial tone;
And every dew-drop, trembling near,
Gave to his soul—her parting tear!
Oh! fatal hour, when friends severe
Beheld unmoved that parting tear,
When, vanquish’d by the sordid crew,
Anselmo bade the world adieu;
When, bow’d to rigid duty’s sway,
He saw his fairest hopes decay,
His short-lived visions of delight
O’erwhelm’d, and lost in endless night.
Once more in search of peace to roam,
Anselmo left his hermit’s home:
For three long years had bid him prove
That absence cannot conquer love;
That in the breast where passion burns,
Each nerve officious reason spurns;
Though in the gulph of misery cast,
It loves to ponder on the past;
While Memory, with a keener sense,
Still paints the eye’s soft eloquence,
Still marks the blush of feeling meek,
Still whispers more than words can speak,
Still bids tumultuous throbbings prove
That language was not made for love!
Still Fancy cheats the wounded breast,
With momentary raptures blest;
And, e’en when Hope denies relief,
Reflection feeds the source of grief.
Perish the thought! Anselmo cried,
That hearts, by mutual vows ally’d,
Should passive crouch to tyrant power,
And darkening youth’s effulgent hour,
Sink in oblivion’s whelming tide,
The victims of insatiate pride!
Roused from his dream, the hermit sought
The scene once more, with misery fraught;
Clad in a pilgrim’s mean array,
From morn’s approach till parting day
The toilsome thorny path he trod,
No guide but Hope,—no friend but God!
And when the shades of night o’erspread
The misty mountain’s breezy head,
Exhausted, on earth’s humid breast,
He kiss’d his cross, and sunk to rest.
At length, his weary weeping eyes
With joy beheld the day-star rise:
For morning gave his raptured sight
The long-lost scene of fond delight,
Where gentle Rosa, peerless maid!
Once like a sun illumed the shade;
Or, as the jewel gilds the mine,
Bade dazzling lustre round her shine.
How throbb’d Anselmo’s heart, when near,
The well-known vespers hail’d his ear!
How did he watch declining day,
How pant to greet its parting ray!
For welcome to the lover’s sight
Appear the murky shades of night;
And sacred every haunt must prove,
That hides the timid blush of love.
Now Hope inspired his bleeding breast—
Now fear each thrilling joy suppress’d,—
While to his Rosa’s proud abode
Forlorn Anselmo sought the road,
And near her lofty window crept,
When all her sordid kindred slept;
While the chaste moon, with pitying light,
Stole veil’d across the dome of night,
And every zephyr, wandering near,
Kiss’d from his cheek a sacred tear.
Come, Rosa fair! the Hermit said,
Bright star of beauty, cheer the shade!
Anselmo calls!—ere rising day
Exulting spreads its envious ray,
Beam comfort on my dark despair,
Light of my life, my Rosa fair!
Yet all was silent, all was drear,
Anselmo’s soul was chill’d with fear!
The sun rush’d forth, his beamy gold
Around the misty mountain roll’d:
The landscape glow’d with colours gay,
New gilded by the eastern ray;
While every blossom trembling near
Dropp’d from its leaves a crystal tear,
And seem’d, by sympathy, to show
That Nature weeps a lover’s wo!
Fear bade Anselmo’s feet depart,
While anguish wrung his burning heart;
With devious step he sought the wood,
Where, ivy-crown’d, a convent stood;
Where many a young and noble maid,
Like a fair floweret doom’d to fade,
In Superstition’s mournful gloom,
A weeping angel—graced a tomb!
Anselmo now, with throbbing breast,
Approach’d the shrine of fancied rest:
With trembling touch the latch he raised,
Then, kneeling, cross’d his brow, and praised!
The gate on creaking hinges moved,
And loud his daring hand reproved.
While through the cloister drear he pass’d,
Cold blew the whistling northern blast;
The turrets tottering o’er his head,
Shook his faint soul with conscious dread;
Till by the taper’s quivering ray
To the long aisle he bent his way,
Where, chaunting o’er a sable bier,
Begem’d with many a holy tear,
The white-robed virgins kneeling paid
Sad tribute to a sister’s shade!
Anselmo’s garb, and downcast look,
A pilgrim’s penitence bespoke!
Though sorrow mark’d his manly face,
His eye retain’d celestial grace.
A welcome guest, he join’d the throng,
The sacred rites, the heavenly song!
Till bending o’er the funeral bed,
The consecrated oil to shed,
He started back in wild amaze,
Death-wounded by the fatal gaze!
For there his darling maid he found,
And, maddening at the sight, fell lifeless to the ground!
Gliding o’er the moonlight heath,
Mark the shadowy tribes of Death!
Hark! their airy voices say,
Haste thee, Mortal! haste away!
All is silent!—yon black cloud
Soon the waning moon will shroud:
All is dark!—the moaning wind
Turbid vapours haste to bind.
Now the severing skies again
Cheer with light the spangled plain:
Now low murmurs sadly say,
Stay thee, gentle wanderer, stay.
What art thou, slow gliding by,
With snowy robe, and glaring eye?
Quickly fleeting shadow, say
Whither wouldst thou bend thy way?
Why invite my steps along
To yon pale and warlike throng?
Wherefore wave thy lily hand,
Beckoning back the ghastly band?
Stranger, hear my mournful strain,
Ere the day-star gilds the plain;
Ere the rosy beams of light
Bid me fade from mortal sight!
This is Bosworth’s fatal field,
Plough’d with many a shatter’d shield!
This is Bosworth’s silent grave
Of chieftains bold, and bowmen brave!
Here the flower of England’s pride,
Wading through a purple tide,
Forced the ranks the tyrant led
O’er the heaps of mighty dead!
While, amidst a sea of blood,
Norfolk, The Duke of Norfolk, Earl of Oxford, and Earl of Pembroke. The former was slain at the Battle of Bosworth. Oxford, The Duke of Norfolk, Earl of Oxford, and Earl of Pembroke. The former was slain at the Battle of Bosworth. Pembroke, The Duke of Norfolk, Earl of Oxford, and Earl of Pembroke. The former was slain at the Battle of Bosworth. stood;
England’s bane, and England’s boast,
Rush’d to arms,—a dauntless host!
Yonder valiant Richmond’s breast
Onward to the tyrant press’d!
Yonder, mad with many a wound,
Hellish Richard gnaw’d the ground!
See his faulchion deep embued
With valiant Brandon’s Sir William Brandon, standard-bearer to the Earl of Richmond, a gallant knight, slain by the hand of the tyrant Richard, at the Battle of Bosworth. vital blood;
See its crimson’d fragments glare
Hideous through the stagnant air!
Start not, mortal!—Hear my tale:
See my cheek so deadly pale,
Once the fairest freshest flower,
Placed by Heaven in Leicester’s Leicester is the nearest town to Bosworth Field. bower.
Peerless Bertha was my name,
First in beauty, first in fame!
Gallant Hubert was my pride:
Hubert fell, and Bertha died!
Ermined robe and tissued vest
Never more shall wrap this breast;
Now my death-bed trappings view,
Pale and gem’d with frozen dew!
Perfect was my Hubert’s mind,
Train’d to arms, by love refined!
Speaking was his hazle eye,
Smooth his cheek, of ruddy dye.
Raven black his glossy hair,
Shading o’er his forehead fair:
Night’s impervious curtains so
Veil the mountain’s spotless snow!
Onward rush’d his palfrey white,
Deck’d with silver bosses bright;
Bosses, doom’d their rays to shed
O’er my Hubert’s funeral bed!
O’er his golden helmet gay
Gaudy plumage fann’d the day:
Hapless plumes! ye wave no more,
Hubert’s crest is drench’d in gore!
When the battle’s fierce alarms
Lured my hero from my arms,
Who my parting throb can tell?
Who, but those that love as well?
But, when o’er the tented heath
Horror wing’d the lance of Death;
When my gallant Hubert fell,
None, alas! my woes can tell.
Three short moons beheld me rave
O’er my mangled lover’s grave!
Countless moons shall see my ghost
Hovering near yon shadowy host!
Nightly will I glide along
Near the vast terrific throng!
Nightly shall my mournful strain
Echo o’er this haunted plain!
For, perchance, amidst the throng
Hubert’s shade shall catch the song;
Though a strain of rending wo,
Hubert Bertha’s strain will know!
Then, my love again may join
Tender sighs and plaints to mine;
Or to some more peaceful shore
We may glide, to part no more!
See, the yellow dawn appears!
Gentle wanderer, check thy tears:
See, my shadow shuns the day!
Haste thee, mortal, haste away!
The Doublet of Grey.
Beneath the tall turrets that nod o’er the dell,
A dark forest now blackens the mound;
Where often, at dawn-light, the deep-sounding bell
Tolls sadly and solemn a soul-parting knell,
While the ruin re-echoes the sound.
Yet long has the castle been left to decay,
For its ramparts are skirted with thorn;
And no one by moonlight will venture that way,
Lest they meet the poor maid, in her doublet of grey,