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Miscellaneous Poems,


and
a Tragedy.

By Mrs. West.

“Thus sang the uncouth Swain to th’ Oaks and Rills, While the still Morn went out with Sandals grey, He touch’d the tender Stops of various Quills, With eager Thought warbling his Dorick Lay.” Milton’s Lycidas.

York:
Printed by W. Blanchard; and sold by R. Faulder, London;
T. Burnham, Northampton; W. Harrod, Harborough;
and N. Collis, Kettering. 1791MDCCXCI.

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Advertisement.

Mrs. West, at the same time that she returns her
best thanks to her friends, begs leave to apologize to
those who favoured her with their names at the commencement
of the work, for the length of time that
has elapsed since they did her that honour. The delay
originated from causes she could neither foresee nor
obviate, and it was the more vexatious to her, as it
seemed to imply a want of what she strongly felt—
respectful attention to her subscribers in particular,
and to the public in general.

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Dedication.

To the Countess Harcourt, &c. &c.


Madam,


Instead of indulging
myself in expatiating on the merits of your
Ladyship’s character, permit me to avail myself
of those virtues, and that refined taste, which
are universally acknowledged. In making it
publicly known that the efforts of my humble
Muse have been honoured with your Ladyship’s
approbation, I shall not fear to offer to the
world those Poems which I am permitted to
inscribe to Lady Harcourt; and, anticipating
their success in consequence of this high honour,
I subscribe myself,


Madam, your Ladyship’s
most grateful and devoted
humble servant,

Jane West.

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Preface.

The Author of the following Poems does not
affect a stoical indifference to their reception
from the world: on the contrary she acknowledges
all the perplexity and alarm that an anxious
desire of success can inspire. Such apprehensions
prompt her in a few introductory periods to bespeak
the favour of her readers. The trite excuse,
that the advice of some respectable friends encouraged
her to the present publication, might
with truth be alledged. In extenuation of the numerous
defects which she fears may be discovered,
she could plead the disadvantages of a confined
education, and the little leisure the indispensible
duties of domestic life allow for literary pursuits;
but conscious that no apologies can rescue from a2r
oblivion the jejune productions which vanity or
officious friendship attempts to intrude upon a generous
but discerning public, she waves all futile
pretences, and only intreats that her Poems may
be read with indulgence, and judged with candour.
From such a decision she wishes not to appeal.

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A List of Subscribers.

  • A

    • Hon. George Annesly
    • Hon. Mrs. Annesly
    • Sir William Andre, Bath
    • Robert Adams, Esq; Lubenham,
      Leicestershire
    • Rev. Samuel Ayscough, F. S. A.
      British Museum
    • Miss Andre, Bath
    • Mrs. Alicock, Lodington, Northamptonshire
    • Rev. John Armstrong
    • Alexander Aubert, Esq;
    • Mrs. Arden, Northampton
    • Mrs. Aldwinkle, Kettering
    • Mrs. Armytage
    • Mr. Allen, Harborough
    • Charles Anson, Esq; Christ Church,
      Oxford
  • B

    • Major Richard Henry Buckeridge
    • George Baillie, Esq; Jervis-Wood
    • Rev. Mr. Baillie
    • Mrs. Birch, York
    • J. Birch, Esq;
    • Mrs. Birch, Liverpool
    • William Burgh, Esq; York
    • Mrs. Burgh, York
    • Miss Booth, Cransley, Northamptonshire
    • Miss Ann Booth, ditto
    • Rev. John Brown
    • Mr Bockett, South Mims, Middlesex
    • Mrs. Bockett, ditto, 2 copies
    • Miss Bockett, ditto
    • Mrs. Blencowe, Northampton
    • Mrs. Robert Blencowe, ditto
    • Mr. William Butlin, Rugby
    • Mrs. Butlin, ditto
    • Mr. Butcher, Northampton
    • Miss Binyon, ditto
    • John Barwick, Esq; Clare-Hall,
      Middlesex
    • Mrs. Barwick, ditto
    • ―― Bligh, Esq; Dublin
    • Alexander Bennett, Esq;
    • INTERNAL ERROR. Please report to wwp@neu.edu that cb is unmatched.
    • Mrs. Barrington
    • Robert Bree, M. D. Leicester
    • Rev. Samuel Barwick, Burton,
      Northamptonshire
    • Rev. Thomas Barlow, Fellow of
      Trinity College, Cambridge
    • Rev. William Bidwell, Grafton,
      Northamptonshire, 2 sets
    • Rev. Mr. Bromfield, Dunchurch
    • Hon. Ed. Bouverie, M. P.
    • Edward Bouverie, Esq; Delapree
      Abbey
    • Mr. Bridges, Northampton
    • Mr. William Blanchard, York
    • Mr. Thomas Burnham, Northampton,
      2 sets
    • Mr. Berkeley, Biggin, Northamptonshire
    • Miss Blackburn
  • C

    • Madame la Princesse de Craon
    • Lady Viscountess Cullen, 2 sets
    • The Lord Bishop of Cork and Ross
    • Lord Viscount Courtenay
    • Hon. William Cockayne, 2 sets
    • Hon. Mrs. Cockayne, 2 sets
    • Lady Chester, Northampton
    • F. Cholmley, Esq; Bransby, Yorkshire
    • Mrs. Cholmley,
    • Mrs. Charleton, York
    • Capt. Cerjat
    • Mr. Cogan, Rothwell, Northamptonshire
    • Mr. Nathaniel Collis, Kettering
    • Mrs. Clay, Bilton
    • Mr. H. Cape, Northampton
    • Joseph Clarke, Esq; Northampton
    • Hon. Mrs. Chetwynd
    • Right Hon. Lord Coleshill, Christ
      Church
      , Oxford
    • G. J. Cholmondeley, Esq; 2 sets
    • Miss Chalie, Bedford-square
    • Mrs. Colmar, Upper Seymourstreet,
      Portland-placea3rii
    • Major Cooke, Thedingworth, Leicestershire
    • Rev. Mr. Clellan, Church Brampton
    • James Cocks, Esq; Christ Church,
      Oxford
    • Mrs. Cazalet, Bath
  • D

    • Lord Bishop of Durham
    • The Lord Bishop of Dromore, 2 sets
    • Lady Viscountess Downe
    • Sir William Dolben, Bart.
    • J. English Dolben, Esq; Finedon,
      Northamptonshire
    • Mrs. Dolben
    • Miss Dolben, Abingdon-street,
      London
    • Rev. Wadham Diggle, Esher, Surrey
    • Mrs. Diggle, ditto
    • Mrs. Day, Portland-place
    • S. R. Dottin, Esq; 3d regiment
      dragoon guards
    • Miss Dring, York
    • Rev. Mr. Dixon, Boughton, Northamptonshire
  • E

    • Earl of Exeter
    • Right Hon. Lady Eardley
    • Hon. Miss Eardley
    • Sir Henry Englefield, Bart.
    • Gerrard Noel Edwards, Esq; M P
    • Mrs. Edwards, Henlow Grange,
      Bedfordshire
    • Mrs. G. Edwards, ditto
    • Rev. Mr. Egerton
    • Miss Elliot, Hackney, 4 sets
    • Mr. Earl, Rugby
    • Herbert Evans, Esq; Christ Church,
      Oxford
  • F

    • Hon. Mrs. Fane, Fulbeck, Lincolnshire
    • Hon. Mr. Fermor, Easton, Northamptonshire
    • Mrs. Fairfax, York
    • Mrs. Farrer, Harborough
    • Rev. Mr. Fowler, Palace, Dublin INTERNAL ERROR. Please report to wwp@neu.edu that cb is unmatched.
    • Mrs. Fendal, Portland-street
    • Miss Fitzhugh, Portland-place
    • Miss Harriot Fitzhugh, ditto
    • Miss Charlotte Fitzhugh, ditto
  • G

    • Her Grace the Duchess of Grafton
    • Miss Govey, Cosgrove, Northamptonshire
    • Rev. Edward Griffin, Dingley,
      Northamptonshire
    • Mrs. Goodricke, York
    • Rev. Joseph Gregory, Leicester
    • Henry Grimston, Esq; Etton
    • Francis Glanville, Esq;
    • William Gillman, Esq;
    • Miss Green, Brixworth
  • H

    • The Earl Harcourt, 4 sets
    • The Countess Harcourt, 4 sets
    • John Peach Hungerford, Esq; 2 sets
    • Hon. Sir George Howard, K. B.
    • Hon. Mr. Howard, Dublin
    • Dr. Hunter, York
    • Mr. Serjeant Hill, Bedford-square,
      2 sets
    • Mrs. Hill, ditto, 4 sets
    • Rev. Dr. Hill, Thorpe Malsor,
      Northamptonshire, 2 sets
    • Mrs. Hill, ditto
    • Miss Hill, ditto
    • Rev. George Haggitt, Rushton
      Northamptonshire
    • Miss Haggitt, ditto
    • Rev. Francis Haggitt, Nuneham,
      Oxfordshire
    • Right Hon. Sir Richard Heron
    • Mr. Horner, Rugby
    • Mrs. Harris, ditto
    • William Hanbury, Esq; Kelmarsh,
      Northamptonshire, 2 sets
    • John Harpur, Esq; Burton, Northamptonshire
    • J. Heathcote, Esq;
    • William Haines, Esq; Glen, Leicestershire
    • Rev. John Heathfield, North Hall,
      Middlesexa3viii
    • B. A. Heywood, Esq; Manchester
    • A. Heywood, Esq;
    • Rev. J. Hutton, Houghton-House,
      Durham
    • Miss Hutton
    • Miss Hilliyard, Northampton
    • Mr. William Harrod, Harborough
    • Mr. Hunt, ditto
    • Mrs. Hawkins, Bedford-square
    • Mrs. H. Hay
    • Nathaniel Hornby, Esq; Christ
      Church
      , Oxford
    • Charles Hudson, Esq; ditto
    • J. B. Hadden, Esq;
  • I

    • Lady Viscountess Irwin
    • Lady Isham, Lamport
    • Mrs. Isted, Bath
    • Miss Harriot Isted, ditto
    • Rev. Edward Jones, Uppingham
    • Rev. Mr. Jackson, ditto
    • Mrs. Johnson, Northampton
    • Mrs. Ives, ditto
    • Mr. Thomas Johnson, ditto
    • Miss Isham
    • Mr. Illiffe, Desbrough, Northamptonshire
  • K

    • Capt. Kerr, Northampton
    • Rev. Mr. Knight, Kettering
    • Mr. Kentish, Rugby.
  • L

    • Her Grace the Duchess of Leeds
    • The Countess of Lincoln
    • The Countess of Lonsdale
    • Lady Langham, Cottesbrooke
    • Edw. Leeds, Esq; Bedford-square,
      2 sets
    • Miss Langham, Bristol
    • Miss F. Langham
    • Mrs. Loddington, Kettering
    • R. Long, Esq; Wimpole-street
    • George Lock, Esq; Christ Church,
      Oxford
    • Matthew Lewis, Esq; ditto
    • Charles Long, Esq; ditto INTERNAL ERROR. Please report to wwp@neu.edu that cb is unmatched.
    • Rev. Mr. Lemman, Winharston,
      Suffolk
    • Mr. Locock, Northampton
    • Rev. Robert Lucas, Ripple, Worcestershire
    • Sir Egerton Leigh, Bart.
    • Miss Lodge, Clare-Hall, Middlesex
  • M

    • Countess of Mount Edgecumbe
    • Right Hon. Lady Monson
    • Rev. William Mason, Aston
    • John Maxwell, Esq;
    • Hon. Mrs. Maxwell
    • Mrs. Morritt, York
    • Mrs. Christopher Morritt, ditto
    • Miss M. Metcalf
    • Tho. C. Maunsell, Esq; ThorpeMalsor,
      Northamptonshire, 4 sets
    • Mrs. Maunsell, ditto, 4 sets
    • Miss Eliza Maunsell, Limerick
    • Thomas Ridgate Maunsell, Esq;
      Thrapston
    • Mr. Matthews, Rugby
    • Miss Maling, ditto
    • Mrs. Marryatt
    • Mrs. S. Marryatt, Chancery-lane
    • Thomas Mercer, Esq; Hackleton,
      Northamptonshire, 2 sets
    • Mrs. Mercer, ditto, 2 sets
    • Charles Morris, Esq; Loddington,
      Leicestershire
    • William Muke, Esq; Dublin
  • N

    • F. North, Esq; Christ Church,
      Oxford
  • O

    • Mrs. Orlibar, Hinwick, Bedfordshire
    • Mrs. Mary Orlibar, Ecton, Northamptonshire
  • P

    • The Countess of Plymouth
    • Lord Bishop of Peterborough
    • Sir John Palmer, Bart.
    • Hen. James Pye, Esq; Poet Laureat
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    • Mrs. Mary Anne Petit, Charlottestreet
    • Mrs. Prowse, Wicken Park, Northamptonshire
    • Mr. John Price, Leicester
    • Miss Peppin, ditto
    • Mrs. Peachey
    • Charles Poole, Esq;
    • William Pickering, Esq; Christ
      Church
      , Oxford
    • Edward Lockwood Percival, Esq;
    • Hon. Edw. Sexton Perry, Dublin
  • Q

    • Rev. Hen. Quartly, Maids-Norton
    • Henry George Quin, Esq; Dublin
      Castle
  • R

    • Her Grace the Duchess of Rutland
    • Lady Robinson, Cranford
    • John Robinson, Esq; Bath
    • Rev. Mr. Robinson, York
    • Mr. Rogers, Rugby
    • Mrs. Rogers, Berkeley-place
    • Rev. Tho. Reynolds, Little Bowden,
      2 sets
  • S

    • Dowager Lady St. John
    • Mrs. Spencer Stanhope
    • William Syme, M. D. Northampton
    • Mrs. Saltmarsh, York
    • Miss Strickland, ditto
    • Mrs. Swainston, ditto
    • Rev. James Stonehouse, M. D. rector
      of Great and Little Cheverel,
      Wiltshire
    • John Stonehouse, Esq; Bengal
    • Rev. Timothy Stonehouse, A. M.
      Oriel College, Oxford
    • Rev. Charles Manners Sutton
    • Mrs. M. Sutton
    • Mrs. Shuttleworth, Thorpe Lubenham,
      Northamptonshire
    • Mrs. Skinner, Goulders Green,
      Middlesex
    • Christopher Smythe, Esq; Northampton
    • Rev. Wm. Smythe, Great Linford INTERNAL ERROR. Please report to wwp@neu.edu that cb is unmatched.
    • Mr. Christopher Smythe, Christ
      Church
      , Oxford
    • William Scroop, Esq; ditto
    • Miss Shadwell, Charlotte-street
    • Richard Brooke Supple, Esq;
    • Mrs. Supple, Great Oakley, Northamptonshire
    • William Sharp, Esq; Fulham
    • Miss Sharp, ditto
    • Mrs. Ja. Sharp, Leadenhall-street
    • Miss Catherine Sharp, ditto
    • Granville Sharp, Esq; ditto
    • Mrs. Judith Sharp
    • Mrs. Frances Sharp
    • Mrs. Watson Samwell, Upton
      Northamptonshire
    • Mrs. Stevens, Quarndon, Leicestershire
    • Miss Seward, Litchfield
  • T

    • The Earl Tyrone
    • ―― Tryon, Esq;
    • Mrs. Taylor, Irthlingborough,
      Northamptonshire
    • Mrs. Catharine Thornton, Mears
      Ashby
      , ditto
    • Rev. Mr. Thornton, Rothersthorpe,
      ditto
  • U

    • Mrs. Umfreville, Bedford-square
  • V

    • Lord Viscount Valentia
    • Lady Viscountess Valentia
    • Right Hon. Lady Vernon
    • Hon. Miss Vernon
    • Hon. Miss A. Vernon
    • Hon. Mr. Verney
    • Mrs. Vigor, Marlborough Buildings,
      Bath
    • Edward Vincent, Esq;
    • ―― Villebois, Esq; Christ Church,
      Oxford
  • W

    • His Excellency the Earl of Westmoreland,
      2 sets
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    • Her Excellency the Countess of
      Westmoreland
      , 2 sets
    • Lady Charlotte Wentworth, Wimpole-street,
      2 sets
    • Lady Borlase Warren
    • John Wilmot, Esq; M. P.
    • Mrs. Wilmot
    • Mrs. Warburton, York
    • Mrs. Wasey, Queen Anne-street,
      Westminster
    • Mrs. Prudence West, Barnet
    • Mrs. West, Northampton
    • Mrs. Barbara Whalley, ditto
    • Mrs. Sarah Whalley, ditto
    • Michael Woodhull, Esq; Thenford,
      Northamptonshire
    • Miss Wraughton, Hadley, Herts
    • Miss Wrather, Portland-place
    • Miss Wrather, Leadenhall-street
    • INTERNAL ERROR. Please report to wwp@neu.edu that cb is unmatched.
    • Sam. Williams, Esq; Esher, Surrey
    • Mrs. Williams, ditto
    • Mr. Thomas Woolstone, Adderbury,
      Oxfordshire
    • Rev. Richard Walker, Harborough
    • Lewis Way, Esq; Christ Church,
      Oxford
    • Rev. Dr. Wigley, Guilsborough,
      Northamptonshire
    • William Wartnaby, Esq; Harbro’
    • Miss Wartnaby, ditto
    • Mr. Wyeman
  • Y

    • Right Hon. Sir Geo. Yonge, K. B.
    • Lady Yonge
    • Allen Young, Esq; Orlingbury,
      Northamptonshire
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Poems.

Ode I.

INTERNAL ERROR. Please report to wwp@neu.edu that regMe is unmatched.Ecclesiastes, chapter I, verse 2. “Vanity of Vanities, saith the preacher, Vanity of Vanities, all
is Vanity.”

I.

And thus doth Jury’s sapient King,

Who full felicity enjoy’d,

The dirge of disappointment sing,

And deeply mourn the total void?

With festal roses see him crown’d;

The nymphs of Sion, gather’d round,

Expect delight, and love the theme.

He modulates the harp’s soft flow

To numbers of expressive woe,

And proves our dearest joys are but a shadowy dream.

A1v 2

II.

Yet haply, in that distant time,

Long ere the dawn of polish’d taste,

The pageant feasts of Judah’s clime

Refin’d enjoyment never grac’d.

Though commerce, at a king’s command,

Search’d Tyre and Ophir’s distant land

To find the exquisite and rare;

Yet if constraint, a silent guest,

Intruded on the regal feast,

Pleasure would instant fly the ostentatious glare.

III.

Thee, Attica, a name endear’d

By grateful learning to mankind:

In thee voluptuousness appear’d

With elegance and science join’d

Beneath the citron’s loaded bough,

The zephyrs’ told Anacreon’s vow

In whispers to the God of wine:

Menander wooed the Idalian boy:

And the philosopher of joy Epicurus.

Evinc’d, by reasons sage, that pleasure is divine.

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IV.

Did not the joys of wine and love,

The luxury of letter’d ease,

The bath, the banquet, and the grove,

Form’d ev’n to extasy to please,

With full delight possess the soul?

Ah! no; satiety oft stole

On the gay revel’s lengthen’d hours;

The Mind perceiv’d an aching void,

And, sensual pleasures unenjoy’d,

Sigh’d for a nobler bliss adapted to her powers.

V.

Did martial Rome, whose genius high

Grasp’d at unlimited controul,

With stately pageantry supply

This good, proportion’d to the soul?

Ah! hear the mighty dead avow,

That with the laurels on their brow,

Envy, and anxious care enwreath’d.

Let Africanus, doom’d to shame;

Let Fabius, great, but slander’d name;

Let murder’d sar tell, what conqu’rors oft atchiev’d.

A2v 4

VI.

Not in the public walks of men

Can we possess our full desires:

Behold! to some sequester’d glen

Defeated Enterprize retires.

There Solitude, and quiet rest,

Shall drive Ambition from his breast;

Would it could drive remembrance too?

But all the wrongs of base mankind,

Engraven on the feeling mind,

Shall o’er his soul diffuse Misanthropy’s sad hue.

VII.

Yon cottage see. The mantling vine

O’er the white wall redundant strays:

Content! this residence is thine;

The rosy tenants chaunt thy praise.

Ah no! the honest rustick’s joys,

Fatigue, and penury destroys,

He must the curse of Adam bear:

Though temperance shall his board controul,

Though moderation curb his soul,

The numerous wants of life shall waken constant care.

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VIII.

Now let the Social Duties tell

Their pleasures. First, be Friendship heard.

Friendship! thy title is a spell

E’en to idolatry rever’d:

Sweet is the intercourse of mind,

When virtuous souls, alike refin’d,

One taste, one sentiment express;

Welcome is sympathy’s warm glow

To the lone breast of frigid woe;

Welcome is counsel too to those whom doubt oppress.

IX.

Oh Friendship! thy enchanting strains

Have charm’d my ravish’d soul so long,

Fain would I banish all thy pains

Both from my mem’ry and my song.

So would thy ever during smile

My future task of life beguile.

Oh! let not time or mis’ry tire,

Let not reserv’d neglect appear,

The causeless, yet distracting fear,

The gloom of jealous doubt, or anger’s sudden fire.

A3v 6

X.

It cannot be. The crime of Eve

With imperfection marks mankind.

Errors shall pain, and sorrows grieve,

And Friendship’s strictest cord unbind.

The mother, who with high wrought joy,

Strains to her breast the wanton boy,

“Hope of her age, pride of her youth,”

May, when a few short years are o’er,

In bitterest agony deplore

“Filial ingratitude, worse than the serpent’s tooth.”

XI.

The youth, whom admiration draws

To sacrifice at Beauty’s shrine,

’Till mad’ned with his own applause,

He deems the mortal nymph divine,

How does he time, and fate upbraid,

’Till wedded to th’ all perfect maid.

But then the fond illusion flies:

Fancy to solid thought will yield,

And many a fault till then conceal’d

Burst from the mist of love on pain’d discernment’s eyes.

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XII.

Why should the muse the theme prolong

The miseries of guilt to tell?

In the abodes of shame and wrong

Can the light Sylphid pleasure dwell?

Can opulence, by meanness sway’d,

Can power, that honour has betray’d,

Can rash unsatisfied desire,

The state of solitary pride,

The bowl to madness near ally’d,

Oh happiness! can these to thy rich prize aspire?

XIII.

Hear Prudence: “Cease, the search is vain,

Fate will your wishes still prevent;

Yet treat not Prudence with disdain,

And she shall lead you to Content.

Tho’ ’tis not mine with transport high

Each ravish’d sense to gratify;

Secure tranquillity I give.

Where the still waters softly flow,

Distant alike from bliss and woe,

There shall the happy few, who own my guidance, live.”

A4v 8

XIV.

Yet Prudence! e’en thy humble plea

Sedate experience disallows.

Canst thou from sickness set us free,

Nor suffer age to load our brows?

See awful Death! his arrows strike

The wary and the rash alike:

Canst thou against his power contend?

He with anticipated shroud

Veils all the joys to man allow’d,

And in the grave’s dark gloom bids all our prospects end.

XV.

And are a few uncertain years,

Of doubtful bliss, of deep distress,

Of blessings, circumscrib’d by fears,

The sum of human happiness?

The heav’n-born soul, is it endu’d

With such insatiate thirst for good,

And must it ne’er desire assuage?

Must disappointment, toil, and pain,

O’er this terrestrial planet reign,

Till death and silence clear the busy crowded stage?

B1r

XVI.

Toil! drop thy ineffectual arm;

Exertion! thy vain zeal controul;

Let apathy the passions charm,

And melancholy lull the soul.

The race to speed does not belong,

The battle does not grace the strong,

Nor yet is honour wisdom’s meed.

Oh Vanity! thus let me sing,

With Salem’s well experienc’d King,

Oh earth! thy best delights are Vanity indeed.

B B1v 10

Ode II.

INTERNAL ERROR. Please report to wwp@neu.edu that regMe is unmatched.Psalm viii.――v.4. “What is man that thou art mindful of him?”

I.

Why should the melancholy Muse

Repress the ardour of the soul,

And o’er young Hope’s enchanting views,

Devolve affliction’s sable stole?

While fancy’s groves inviting spread,

Shall she the vale of mourning tread?

Disease and guilt inhabit there.

Will she the cup of blessing spurn

To drink at sorrow’s bitter urn,

Which stands, with cypress crown’d, in thy dark courts, Despair?

B2r 11

II.

Has he, th’ unalterable Mind,

Whose high behests we must obey,

Call’d us to being, yet assign’d

That being to distress a prey?

In heav’n’s wide court, by angels trod,

In honour of th’ all bounteous God,

Are endless hallelujahs sung:

And when of chaos, rude and drear,

He form’d this planetary sphere,

With hymns of praise and joy the Empyrean rung.

III.

Lo! the great Maker’s eye divine

At once the wide creation view’d:

It all fulfill’d his vast design;

He saw, and he pronounc’d it good.

Crude shapeless matter, by him wrought,

Assum’d his radiant form, and thought,

And man arose with life endu’d.

To him the new-born earth was given,

Nor did the golden gates of heav’n,

From his enraptur’d view, the eternal world exclude.

B2 B2v 12

IV.

But when the proud apostate dar’d

The goodly region to invade;

When man, by artful wiles ensnar’d,

Proudly aspir’d and disobey’d,—

Aloft He rear’d his flaming crest,

And thus his hellish bands address’d:

“’Tis done: The work of ruin’s done.

No more the choral sons of morn

Shall hail yon planets newly born,

Nor tell of favour’d man, creation’s youngest son.

V.

Incens’d the stern Jehovah sees

His views defeated by my guile.

Death shall the guilty beings seize.

Destruction sinks that starry pile.—”

But as he gaz’d, in vain desire,

To see earth’s funeral blaze aspire,

Behold the work of mercy shines.

Her plea, eternal Justice hears,

Abates our contrite parents tears;

And to repentant man a Savior God assigns.

B3r 13

VI.

What tho’ the earth, now sterile grown,

Will but by toil her products bring;

What tho’ her climes no longer own

An Eden’s ever-during spring:

Use shall the native reconcile

To each adversity of soil,

Or art allay the wild extreme.

Necessity shall summon forth

The soul of energetic worth;

And labour nerve the frame, and clear the mental beam.

VII.

Revolving years, eventful all,

Progressively their round fulfill.

Kingdoms and heroes rise and fall

Obedient to th’ eternal will.

Assyria’s Kings their empire spread;

O’er vanquish’d realms the Persians tread;

Heroick palms the Grecians bear;

The sars war. Each seeks alone

To rear their perishable throne;

Yet these thy promis’d reign, oh Prince of Peace! prepare.

B3v 14

VIII.

Far, far beyond the narrow bound

The Babylonish tyrant trod,

When from his palace, turret-crown’d,

He gaz’d, himself a fancied God;

O’er ampler realms than Cyrus sway’d,

More numerous hosts than Xerxes led,

Christianity’s mild banners wave:

Where never march’d Achaia’s Prince, Alexander.

Where never Rome, on false pretence,

Invaded peaceful realms, or triumph’d o’er the brave.

IX.

Has not the sacred page foretold

(That page, which med’cines all our fears)

That ’ere the car of time has roll’d

Its period o’er allotted years,

Nations, perchance, ev’n now unknown,

The inmates of each distant zone,

The gospel’s blessing shall receive:

From ev’ry kindred, people, tongue,

Shall burst devotion’s ardent song,

And earth again to Heav’n a welcome incense breathe.

B4r 15

X.

’Tis not that lightnings rend the air,

Or icy rigours chain the soil,

Nor that humanity must bear

His destin’d lot of pain and toil,

That man complains. A different source

Those sorrows know, whose poignant force

Deepest afflict the tortur’d soul.

They spring from av’rice, envy, lust,

From cruel foes, from friends unjust,

The pang of wounded pride, or pleasure’s traiterous bowl.

XI.

Turn then, ye erring Pilgrims! turn,

Who perfect bliss on earth pursue:

Her steps ye never shall discern;

To Heav’n the radiant Cherub flew,

When Adam fell. Go seek her there

By humble virtue, ardent prayer,

And Charity’s directing light.

Not unregarded shall ye sigh:

Faith wafts your wishes to the sky,

And years of endless joy shall your desires requite.

B4v 16

XII.

No more of partial evil tell,

Suppress the false repining lay:

Will not Eternity dispell

The sorrows of life’s little day?

Ev’n Death, the last resisting foe,

To Her resigns his ebon bow,

And nerveless drops his murd’rous hand.

The Christian, by her name impell’d,

Fenc’d by devotion’s sacred shield,

Dares the seducing world and hell’s infernal band.

XIII.

Along the pilgrimage of life

To heav’n, submissive, see him go.

Secure from passion’s mental strife

He feels not passion’s restless woe.

If to his lot indulgent heav’n

A path less intricate has giv’n,

And strew’d it with some casual flowers;

Grateful he crops the blossoms fair,

And cultivates those plants with care

Whose fragrance will revive in heav’n’s ambrosial bowers.

C1r 17

XIV.

But if through desarts, wild and rude,

With dangers fraught, his journey lies,

His mind, each rebel thought subdu’d,

An intellectual calm supplies;

While Innocence, with gentle beam,

Attracts affection and esteem,

Still to the virtuous sufferer given.

Such are the antidotes to woe

These sublunary scenes bestow;

Such is our portion here; and our reversion, Heaven.

C C1v 18

Independence.

Ode III.

I.

Sweet Muse, to whose protecting shrine,

Driv’n by the spectre Care, I flee,

When oft, at busy days decline,

I sigh for leisure and for thee;

Say, in earth’s habitable round,

Can perfect happiness be found,

Proportion’d to the craving soul?

If still beneath the solar road

Bright Independence makes abode,

Her’s is this perfect bliss, this joy without controul.

C2r 19

II.

Nymph, ’tis thy animating voice

That wakes the springs of latent worth;

In thee the savage tribes rejoice;

The polish’d nations of the earth

Caught, at thy shrine, the sacred flame,

Which led to liberty and fame

The Grecian and the Roman arms,

When Kings, with unenlighten’d pride,

The native rights of man defied,

When rapine stalk’d on earth, and fill’d it with alarms.

III.

Who on the labours of the Muse

Impassion’d energy bestows?

Whose inspiration can diffuse

The warmth with which the patriot glows?

Oh, thou; the theme of many a bard,

By sages woo’d with fond regard,

In every vein a good supreme!

Without thee, weak is Virtue’s arm;

Feeble is Wisdom’s hope to charm;

Nor yet must timid Truth display her radiant beam.

C2 C2v 20

IV.

Thy favour’d vot’ries do not fear

The scorns which wealth will oft bestow;

Nor need they hide th’ indignant tear,

Stern obligation forc’d to flow.

Degrading flattery does not soil

The lip o’er which thy chearful smile

Diffuses a becoming pride.

Nor will their hearts pretend to feel

The hurry of officious zeal,

Nor cold civil wish, that hopes to be denied.

V.

These still with manly ease avow

The genuine impulse of the soul;

To Nature’s shrine alone they bow,

Obedient but to her controul.

Fastidious tastes, capricious laws,

The cant of censure and applause,

Claim’d by the fashion of the day,

Their minds with noble freedom spurn;

For merit, and for truth they burn,

And in their search employ unclouded Reason’s ray.

C3r 21

VI.

Such are the characters, who prove

To what our nature can aspire,

Who feel the dignity of love,

And friendship’s never failing fire.

Who in each state, to duty just,

Perform the delegated trust,

Guided by honour’s radiant star.

Regardless tho’ the vulgar blame;

Proof to the dangerous charms of fame,

Their hopes and fears revere a doom more awful far.

VII.

O Goddess of the brave and wise!

Where’er thy radiant seat is plac’d

Beneath mild Britain’s temper’d skies,

Or in the cold Sarmatian waste,

There still, as in their native air,

The nobler virtues flourish fair.

Firm constancy, unwearied zeal,

Courage that spurns degrading fear,

Faith unprofessing, yet sincere;

All that can greatly act, all that can finely feel.

C3v 22

VIII.

Bright object of my ardent prayer!

When will thy soul-enliv’ning beam

Dispel the wintry clouds of care,

And gild the cot by Welland’s stream?

There oft thy harbinger I see:

The ruddy sylvan, Industry:

He still directs our daily toil.

Nor yet does adverse Fate deny

Each humbler hope to gratify,

But when, ah when will tardy Independence smile?

IX.

Away, Complaint! Thy chilling spleen

With langour numbs the active powers:

For as I view the passing scene,

My path seems strew’d with festal flowers.

Millions, who bear the human form,

Assail’d by Fortune’s ruthless storm,

To heaven of hated life complain.

Adversity’s sharp stings they feel,

They cringe beneath oppression’s wheel,

They pine with hopeless woe, or faint with cureless pain.

C4r 23

X.

Ye sons of affluence and fame,

To noble independence born,

Remov’d from want’s imputed shame,

And mis’ry’s undeserved scorn,

Preserve the birth-right ye possess:

Oh! trifle not with happiness;

From lavish dissipation fly.

Force not your noble souls to bear

An irksome round of anxious care,

Nor let the sordid bribe your mean subservience buy.

XI.

Preserve the birth-right ye possess,

The banquet of the lib’ral mind,

The pow’r to succour, and to bless,

To speed the int’rests of mankind.

Ev’n, like the glorious orb of day,

Your salutary beams convey

To all within your ample sphere.

Oppressive opulence subdue,

Lead slighted merit forth to view,

Dispel the orphan’s grief, and wipe the widow’s tear.

C4v 24

XII.

Yet while with condescension sweet

Ye lay the pride of birth aside,

The injur’d sufferer to meet,

The blush of modesty to hide;

Still, when occasion calls it forth,

Assume the dignity of worth,

To check oppression’s proud decree.

Admiring nations shall perceive,

What minds unbiass’d can atchieve,

And bless benignant heav’n, which made you great and free.

D1r 25

Ode IV.

For the Year 17891789.

Written on 1790-01-01New Year’s Day 1790.

I.

Cold, distant far, the Sun scarce seems

To give his salutary ray,

Moist vapours chill his struggling beams,

And cloud the transitory day.

Soon to his glowing south he flies,

And evening, deep’ning all her dyes,

Calls full orb’d Cynthia and her train:

To me yon starry choir appear

To sing the requiem of the year,

And hail the new-born babe, predestin’d now to reign.

D D1v 26

II.

That new-born babe is hail’d by man,

Short sighted man, who soon shall mourn

That of his life’s allotted span,

No portion shall again return:

Tho’ time, now silent, steals away,

Rous’d by perceptible decay,

He shall the eagle’s flight arraign,

Hang on the pinions of the year,

And beg, with agonizing fear,

The months, the days, the hours, so oft mispent, in vain.

III.

But go, departed year! and join

The numerous synod of thy sires;

Bid them produce their actions: Thine

A noble eulogy requires.

Hear some of martial exploits tell;

Others on plagues and famines dwell;

A few gentler aspect boast

Of seas explor’d, of truths explain’d,

Of provinces from ocean gain’d,

Of many a well-form’d state, or new discovered coast.

D2r 27

IV.

Yet envy not the garland, Fame

Grateful around their mem’ry twines;

Go, for thyself the laurel claim,

Which high in Freedom’s temple shines:

For lo! in thy auspicious reign

The awak’ned nations heard the strain

Her energetic voice impress’d;

When, with divine Astrea join’d,

The goddess visited mankind,

Blew her inspiring trump, and bade the world be bless’d.

V.

Before her, in effulgent light,

With dove-like aspect Science came,

She dar’d false sophistry to Fight,

And triumph’d in her rival’s shame.

She first disclos’d the lib’ral plan,

Which ascertains the rights of man,

Not built on variable laws,

But at his first creation giv’n;

The priviledge bestow’d by heaven,

Whence he his generous love of independence draws.

D2 D2v 28

VI.

She told why rulers were assign’d,

And salutary laws ordain’d;

What fit restrictions these confin’d;

How those wild anarchy restrain’d.

She spoke with extacy impell’d:

Along the banks of foaming Scheld

The peaceful Fleming, arm’d for fight,

Bade a capricious prince, with shame,

His inconsistent schemes disclaim,

Nor hope the brave will yield their well attested right.

VII.

Sprung from a race of tyrants, see

The monarch of the Gallick shores

A captive, and his people free!

He now the policy deplores,

Which hail’d him unrestricted Lord,

And bade him with despotic sword

To spread proud empire’s purple pall;

Regardless of the nobler art,

Which, while it subjugates the heart,

Deals with benignant hand felicity to all.

D3r 29

VIII.

Thy present aims, fair France! pursue,

With glory’s palm thy brows enwreath;

No more let luxury subdue;

No more let levity deceive.

Will not the lustre of thy reign

Revive the wonted worth of Spain?

She aw’d the Roman and the Moor.

Let god-like Africanus tell,

Speak ye who at Grenada fell,

If the Iberian mind should slavery endure.

IX.

Lo! Prejudice, who vainly strove,

By time, to fortify her lyes,

From all her dark recesses drove,

Before the sun of Freedom flies:

Bright in the Western world it beams,

And shall the orient lack its gleams?

There did its ancient lustre shine

Where sleeps the manly Spartan soul;

See haughty Athens brook controul;

See enterprizing Thebes her dear-bought rights resign.

D3v 30

X.

In vain luxuriant Asia boasts

Of Nature’s gifts on her conferr’d:

Alas, along her beauteous coasts

Are slavery’s clanking fetters heard.

In silent pomp, in barb’rous state,

There Desolation stalks elate

O’er regions wasted by his spear;

The abject mind, with servile awe,

Submits to each new master’s law,

And pays with cringing dread the rites of heartless fear.

XI.

Yet here ingenious labour reigns:

For whom poor Artist dost thou toil?

Reap’st thou the profit of thy pains,

Is thine this richly cultur’d soil?

A tear suffuses his meek eye,

He faints for want; I see him die!

My breast with indignation heaves.

Stern Tyranny, is this thy joy,

Seek’st thou to blast, oppress, destroy;

Are dying groans the sounds thy idol pleas’d receives?

D4r 31

XII.

Oh! cast they eyes on Afric’s sons,

Who blacken in the solar beam;

Where Niger or where Gambia runs,

Resounds the agonizing scream

Of slaves condemn’d to ceaseless toil,

To perish in a distant soil,

Far from their country, kindred, sires.

Rous’d by reiterated groans,

Their cause indignant Justice owns,

And Man’s inherent right from brother Man requires.

XIII.

Her voice let British wisdom hear;

Let British freedom give redress:

Britain, whose name oppressors fear,

Whose aid the injur’d ever bless;

When mighty nations all around,

Sunk in servility profound,

Or arm’d but in a despot’s cause;

Impell’d by Freedom’s magic charm,

She bade her couchant lion arm,

And taught her Kings to fear the spirit of her laws.

D4v 32

XIV.

Whence was this recent tide of woe?

Can sighs from thee, stern nation, spring?

From Gratitude thy sorrows flow,

And weep the Father and the King:

Trembling she sees that mighty mind,

To fever’s burning rage resign’d,

Where late each temper’d virtue shone.

If human hopes of succour fail,

Oh! let her prayers with heav’n prevail—

The patriot king restor’d, fills his paternal throne.

XV.

To thee, fair realm, at heav’n’s award,

A year profuse in blessings came;

For when it heal’d thy wounded Lord,

It fix’d thy greatness and thy fame.

Luxuriant plenty decks thy shores,

And see, where sound yon dashing oars,

On Peace enamour’d Commerce smiles;

His lov’d society she craves,

And shews her dowry, which the waves

From every region bear to these her favorite isles.

E1r 33

XVI.

Perfect, thou youngest child of time!

Thy predecessors noble care:

Let virtue, in each peopled clime,

Freedom’s unsullied standard rear;

The sanguine sword of discord sheath,

And o’er the harrass’d nations breath

The renovating gales of peace;

Bid thy mild suns to Britain’s king

Arise with healing on their wing:

Then will his country’s joys admit no more encrease!

E E1v

Elegy I. Laodamia..

Laodamia was the wife of Protesilaus, King of Thessaly, who
was slain in the Trojan war. The night after his death his ghost
appeared to her, and she expired.

The midnight centinel has hail’d the moon,

Whose silent radiance gilds the dusky air;

Again the favouring Muse I importune,

And wander forth her converse mild to share.

In yonder grove the Goddess first appear’d,

As gathering violets I beside it stray’d:

There first the lyre’s harmonious swell I heard,

I turn’d astonish’d, and beheld the maid.

E2r 35

Fancy with flowers had wreath’d her waving hair;

Her mantling cheek with rich expression glow’d;

Sportive as youthful Hebe’s was her air;

Her sparkling eyes her birth cœlestial shew’d.

I gaz’d, I worship’d, she benignly smil’d.

“Fear not, she said, and dried the starting tear,

The Muse hath list’ned to thy numbers wild,

And oft at evening shall await thee here.”

Bless’d assignation! frequent here I’ll stray,

Oh night! to lonely musing sacred still,

When leafy boughs embrown the lunar ray,

And the faint breeze sighs to the murmuring rill.

This is the hour, when superstition reigns,

When shrouded spectres through the church-yard roam,

When sportive says mislead benighted swains,

And prowling witchcraft leaves its dreary home.

The prisoner now, in rapturous slumber bless’d,

Enjoys his liberty, and scorns his foes;

While honest Industry, by toil oppress’d,

Tastes the reviving cordial of repose.

E2 E2v 36

Now patient woe, whose meek dejected breast

Hides from the scoffing world its secret pain,

Indulges sorrow in an ample feast,

’Till weary Nature can no more sustain.

So mourn’d of old the fair Thessalian queen,

Connubial martyr to the adulterous wars;

So oft the mourner on her couch was seen,

Her streaming eyes fix’d on the radiant stars.

Alas! what anguish tore her faithful heart

As her soul struggled in a last adieu!

Whilst her lov’d Lord, by fate compell’d to part,

On full-orb’d glory fix’d his ardent view.

Love wak’d her fears, and while the Grecian train

In the wide arms of rocky Aulis lay,

She urg’d opposing oracles in vain:

The chief still panted for the martial fray.

The sails expand, behold the mourner now

Sink in th’ embraces of supporting friends,

Whilst the griev’d monarch, from the ships tall prow,

To pitying Juno his belov’d commends.

E3r 37

In vain her handmaids, with consoling care,

Exclaim “thy hero shall return with joy;

Haste, weave the purple robe; the crown prepare;

Leave sorrow to the widow’d dames of Troy.”

The pride of birth, the pomp of courts, is vain:

She sits, a monument of silent woe:

And now she fears the terrors of the main,

Now the close ambush of the wily foe.

Meantime the husband, sedulous for fame,

First draws his beaked vessels to the strand.

See him with Phrygia’s chief the combat claim,

And fall the earliest victim to his hand.

Even as his foot first press’d the hostile soil,

Tremendous Hector rais’d his mortal spear,

“Thus, proud Thessalian, terminates thy toil,

Com’st thou from Greece to feed our vultures here?”

Now reign’d dull midnight: and in short repose

The sorrowing queen essay’d to banish care,

Yet ev’n in slumber imag’d Phrygian foes,

And vow’d to Juno, sacrifice and prayer,

E3v 38

When lo! the king his shadowy form uprear’d;

His deep wound heal’d, his garments cleans’d from gore,

Beauty and sweetness in his look appear’d,

As when he first the nuptial chaplet wore.

“Come, lovely mourner, ever faithful bride,

Vain was thy parting charge, thy tender fear:

Thy prayers, thy offerings, fate’s award deny’d:

My victim life was given to Hector’s spear.

Come partner of my soul; my spirit roves

Restless, unhappy, whilst depriv’d of thee.

Together will we seek the myrtle groves,

The seat of lovers faithful once as we.”

“I come, my lord, the starting matron cried,

In spight of Hector now for ever bless’d.”

Then as the phantom fled, she groan’d and died,

Her pale cheek drooping on her snowy breast.

E4r 39

Elegy II.

To a Lady,

With the Collection of Miscellaneous Poetry,

Published by the Author in 17861786.

Friend of my soul, accept from Friendship’s hand

The grateful garland to thy virtues due;

Oh! smile propitious on the votive band

Whose flowers once shelter’d by thy favour grew.

Rude, and uncultur’d in my infant soul,

The seeds of poesy, profusely spread,

By nature sown, nor yet had art’s controul

To seemly order the redundance led.

E4v 40

Yet thee they pleas’d: thy polish’d taste approv’d

The simple carrol of my untaught lays.

And see! th’ ambitious muse, by thee belov’d,

Now stands a candidate for public praise.

Shine, sun of hope! but ah; the clouds of fear

Alternate chill me with foreboding gloom;

Bright fairy visions rise, and disappear,

As praise and censure seem, by turns, my doom.

Say, gentle friend, should scorn, with murderous smile,

Launch her keen arrow at my victim page;

Should critic censure, rich with many a spoil,

Consign my labours to oblivion’s rage:

Will not thy bosom with resentment glow?

Resentment mix’d with pity’s softening tear.

And wilt thou not appear to ward the blow

With Candour’s buckler arm’d, and Friendship’s spear?

Yet all in vain; thy pious zeal will prove,

The shaft of ridicule resistless flies;

Vain thy consoling, animating love,

The timid muse repents, despairs, and dies.

F1r 41

Then let me ask thee, when the tuneful power

“Her nightly visions” shall no more repeat?

When active duty, seizing every hour,

Shall cloud gay fancy’s visionary seat?

When sweet forgetfulness (what numerous years

Ere then shall lapse) the past indulgent veils?

When disappointment wipes away her tears,

And quiet peace and still content prevails?

Yet canst thou then approve, with preference kind,

The insipid converse of the village dame?

Tho’ taste and science quit the busy mind,

Still shall the honest heart thy favour claim.

Oh! would that health, as surely may again,

O’er thy lov’d form her healing balm diffuse;

As I shall still thy dear esteem retain,

E’en when deserted by th’ inspiring Muse.

F F1v 42

Elegy III.

To Laura.

How long, how well, we’ve lov’d; Oh Laura, say!

Bid recollection trace the distant hour

When first we met in life’s delightful May,

And our warm hearts confess’d fair Friendship’s power.

Recall the portrait of the ingenuous mind,

Which from experience no stern precepts drew:

When gay, impetuous, innocent, and kind,

From taste congenial love spontaneous grew.

F2r 43

Deep had we quaff’d the cup of childish joy;

The simple sweet our nicer taste disdain’d.

We thought youth’s promis’d feast would never cloy,

And of the future fairy prospects feign’d.

Time lifts the curtain of expected years;

Eager we rush the imagin’d good to find.

Say, if the blessing, when possess’d, appears

Fair, as the phantom that allur’d thy mind.

Doth the stern world those faultless friends disclose,

Thy guileless candour imag’d to thy soul?

Doth virtue guard thee from insidious blows,

Or sense the shafts of calumny controul?

For me! I thought the golden wreath of fame

Still in my reach, and like a trifler play’d:

But when I turn’d the glorious prize to claim,

My hopes had faded in oblivion’s shade.

The dear associates, we in youth rever’d,

The world’s rude changes from our arms have drove:

Some in the grave’s dark cells, have disappear’d;

Some lost by distance; some estrang’d in love.

F2 F2v 44

Yet there are views, which never will deceive,

In one sure prospect no false colours blend:

Death on our brows will press his cypress wreath,

And all our wishes in the dust will end.

Perchance, ere yet, yon zenith’d sun shall lave

In the salt deep, my conflict will be o’er.

Then, Laura, bending o’er my turf-clad grave,

Shall shed the tear, which I shall feel no more.

Or, if allotted many lengthened years,

We walk consociate through the tedious gloom,

’Till each lov’d object gradual disappears,

And our dim vision but discerns the tomb:

Still our try’d faith shall shame the fickle herd,

Whose civil forms are cold and unendear’d:

Nor shall a casual slight, or dubious word,

Efface the kindness we have long rever’d.

Friendship’s sweet pleasures bless’d our early hours

With tender fellowship of hopes and fears:

Our ripen’d age shall feel its nobler powers;

Its calm endearments sooth our drooping years.

F3r 45

Then, when the levities of mirth offend,

When passion ceases its tormenting strife;

How sweet in converse with an aged friend,

To trace th’ eventful history of life.

From present sorrow, lassitude, and pains,

To lift the soul to glory’s promis’d sphere:

There may we meet, and, where love ever reigns,

Perfect the union which we cherish’d here.

F3v 46

Elegy IV.

To the Same,

Upon Her expressing an unfavourable Idea of one of
The Author’s Friends.

Are souls congenial? and can Laura’s mind,

Accustom’d truth and prudence to revere,

Sink by rash censure, or contempt unkind:

Minds like her own, to truth and prudence dear?

What tho’ perchance the seeds of attic taste,

Rich efflorescence, Nature’s hand withheld;

Tho’ Science ne’er their nightly vigils grac’d

With wit and sense, like Laura’s, unexcell’d.

F4r 47

Deem not the goddess niggard in her stores;

A thousand latent talents are enshrin’d.

She blends, appropriates, contrasts, explores,

And, various as the feature, moulds the mind.

All have their uses. ’Tis to some assign’d,

As sings the sage, Dr. Johnson’s Elegy on the Death of Dr. Levet. “His virtues walk’d their ‘narrow round’.” a narrow round to tread,

To fill the lowlier uses of their kind

With silent goodness, or with sense unread.

All cannot boast, like thee, a judgment keen

Our course to point, our errors to retrieve:

Yet for fall’n man their task is not too mean,

Who mourn the woes, they know not to relieve.

The regal oak, in air supremely towers,

And amply spreads each grand umbrageous arm:

Yet not neglected glow the vernal flowers,

Whose gay enamel bids the valley charm.

F4v 48

To the tall tree, when lowering storms affright,

We fly for shelter, and its foliage bless.

In fertile vales, when peaceful skies invite,

We praise gay Nature in her humble dress.

In various trials is thy merit shown:

Then to perfection urge thy noble aim.

Worth may exist, albeit to thee unknown;

And Genius, which thy household gods disclaim.

In me mean deference would my love demean.

Can servile awe thy just esteem retain?

Shall friendship prove an oriental queen,

And fear the impulse of the soul restrain?

No! be reproof her office, and do thou,

Still as thou seest my angry passion blaze,

Teach me my fault with candour to avow,

And make me worthier of thy love and praise.

Yet cautious check my temper’s ardent force,

Would’st thou annihilate the honest zeal,

Whose big emotion bursts from Friendship’s source,

And which in all its warmth for thee I feel.

G1r 49

Elegy V.

Occasioned by Often Dreaming
Of a Deceased Friend.

Ah friend belov’d! who, when in human mould,

With care assiduous watch’d my infant hours,

Anxious to see the tender plant unfold,

Anxious to rear the frail expanding flowers.

Ah friend belov’d! whose sorrows oft hath drown’d

Thy Julia’s cheek with sympathetic tears,

When the stern world upon thy fortunes frown’d,

Or pains incessant rack’d thy drooping years.

Thy form, familiar to my mental sight,

Thy sufferings, grav’d on mem’ry’s living scroll,

Employ the passing vision of the night,

And fill with pensive retrospect my soul.

G G1v 50

Unbodied spirit! dost thou yet retain

The strong affinity of mortal ties?

Still dost thou hovering round my couch remain,

And give thy image to my closing eyes?

Oft to thy friendly bosom have I fled,

When sharp affliction stung my youthful heart,

And art thou, long th’ associate of the dead,

Yet recollective of thy wonted part?

My matron cares do these thy pity move,

As did the anguish of my childish years?

Would’st thou renew thy offices of love,

Relieve my griefs, and dissipate my fears?

’Tis surely thus, when sleep awhile suspends

The deadly pressure of this clay machine,

The mind springs forth to meet departed friends,

And catch a prospect of the world unseen.

Th’ unbounded soul, from cumbrous matter free,

Feels a short foretaste of its future powers.

It cleaves the air, it penetrates the sea,

Enjoys resplendent suns, and fairy bowers.

G2r 51

Fancy, while judgement sleeps, with mingled hues

Depicts each past occurrence of the day;

And now she blends them with gay festal views;

Now fills the scene with horror and dismay.

Whate’er she fables, her existence shews

A principle, to matter unallied,

Whose ever active essence scorns repose,

Nor needs corporeal organs to decide.

The sleep of Nature never could o’er cloud,

Oh wonderous soul! thy intellectual ray.

Nor shall the silent tomb and winding shroud

Hush thee in slumber ’till time’s final day.

No long suspension of the conscious mind,

No rest to unrepentent guilt, is giv’n.

Nor must the dying Christian wait to find

The sure, the promis’d, recompence of heav’n.

The enraptur’d soul, all base alloy remov’d,

Sees all around it worlds of bliss arise:

Or hovering o’er the friends in life belov’d,

Assist their painful journey to the skies.

G2 G2v 52

Delightful hope! then still is Mary near,

My nobler being now her care sustains,

My tender friend, my Guardian Angel here,

My future pilot to the heav’nly plains.

G3r 53

Elegy VI.

The Muses’ Vindication.

Discard the muse—thy sounding lyre forego,

Drive from thy bosom verse, and all its charms;

Why sharpen every nerve to suffer woe,

Give passion force, and weaken reason’s arms?

He, who man’s properest station can discern,

For thee an humble dwelling hath prefer’d:

Where daily care thy daily bread shall earn,

And Fame’s bewitching trump be never heard.

Drive from thy thought those fascinating powers,

Who with romantic dreams enchant thy soul.

The rugged world demands thy anxious hours,

And fortune bids thee her attacks controul.

G3v 54

Why rural talk, or rural sports disdain,

And lonely musing nightly wander far,

Chaunting to silver Cynthia some sad strain,

Of heroes slumbering on the couch of war?

’Tis thine to waste o’er books thy midnight oil,

’Tis thine to warble forth some love-lorn tale;

More blest, more useful, is the swain, whose toil

Prepares the glebe, or reaps the ripen’d vale.

Beneath yon elm, amid those humble swains,

Mortality’s last rites thy bones shall share;

No future poets shall repeat thy strains,

No strangers seek thy grave to shed a tear.

Or grant some generous friend, with active zeal,

Tears from Oblivion’s grasp thy heart-taught lays,

The studious Critic’s cold contempt to feel,

Uncultur’d nature must not hope for praise.

To wiser purpose then thy powers direct;

With active interest guard thy steady breast.

Do liberal thoughts command the world’s respect?

Do finer feelings make their owners blest?

G4r 55

Thus Prudence urg’d; when, lo! the Muse appears;

The sacred cause of letter’d ease she pleads,

Sparkling intelligence her visage wears,

And thus the graceful orator proceeds:—

Just were the censure, was our aim confin’d

To robe in tissue garb some idle tale;

To break the just gradation of mankind,

And with the phantastic shews thy peace assail:

But know our stations. Handmaids we appear,

In Virtue’s court to robe the Queen divine.

From her the high behest of truth we hear,

And thence to man transmit the lore benign.

Thou, Julia, witness, when beside the grove,

Thy hands first bound thine hair in many a braid,

As pleas’d for thee the laurel wreath we wove,

Ere we bestow’d the gift, my sisters said:

A fit companion for thy vacant hours,

This wreath and lyre in favour we bestow.

But e’er when life calls forth thy active powers,

Thou must the muse, the wreath, the lyre, forego.

G4v 56

Let not unletter’d scorn, with mean delight,

Produce thy actions to traduce thy name.

We sing the virtues we ourselves excite,

And give not indolence, but merit, fame.

From taunting satire, from unliscens’d praise,

Do thou with noble independence soar.

Give to morality thy noblest lays,

And fix thy hopes, where time destroys no more.

Then, when the virtuous precept fires thy breast,

When the sigh rises to be prais’d, and known,

Adopt the manners, which thy judgement bless’d,

And save, from folly save—thyself alone.

So shall thy eyes with angel ken survey

Fame, Pleasure, Wealth, despoil’d of all their charms;

So shalt thou sink upon thy bed of clay,

Calm as the babe now resting on thy arms.

H1r

Pastoral I.

Celadon.

Oh! Celadon, did not the hours

Appear to glide rapid away,

When with me ’mid fresh blossoming flowers

You carold the beauties of May.

When spring, with its infantine green,

Lightly ting’d the tall elms of the grove;

Ah! Celadon, sweet was the scene,

Its beauty was heighten’d by love.

H H1v 58

Of all you then sang, not a strain

But I still can distinctly repeat;

Ah! youth, but reproaches are vain,

Can you say your behaviour is meet?

Is it just to abandon with scorn

The heart you so hardly subdu’d,

And to leave the poor virgin forlorn,

Whom late you so fervently woo’d?

When you gave me the eglantine wreath,

You embellished the gift with your praise;

You only design’d to deceive,

Yet you spake to the heart in your lays.

My beauty was then all your theme,

In beauty I never took pride;

I thought it procur’d your esteem,

I knew not its value beside.

You promis’d your passion should last

Till by death’s icy rigour represt,

Yet now all your ardour is past,

And you live at that passion to jest.

H2r 59

Was the fetter that bound you too weak;

Oh! why is my Celadon strange?

’Till sorrow had faded my cheek,

I saw in the fountain no change.

Can you say my behaviour was light,

Was it easy my favour to gain,

When I promis’d your love to requite,

Could others attention obtain?

To a test all my words may be brought,

Let my life by suspicion be try’d;

You, Celadon, knew every thought,

I had none that I studied to hide.

You sure must remember the day

You wounded your hand with the hook;

Again how I fainted away

When you rescu’d my lamb from the brook.

Oh! how my heart flutters; e’en yet

I think of your danger with tears,

Yet Celadon strives to forget,

At once, both my love and my fears.

H2 H2v 60

Fond fool! do I utter my grief

To the man from whose falsehood it sprung;

Shall the nest plunder’d dove seek relief

From the stripling that ravished her young?

Yet shepherds are free from deceit,

Their manners are simple and plain;

From all kind compassion I meet,

And all thy injustice disdain.

My mother has often times read,

While I reel’d off my spindle at night,

That lions and tygers have bled;

All vanquish’d by shepherds in sight.

’Tis right for such deeds to exult,

For virtue and courage they prove;

But, oh! it is base to insult

The girl you have injur’d in love.

Your bride she is lovely, I fear,

I’ve heard she is richer than me;

The lot of the poor is severe,

Ev’n lovers from poverty flee.

H3r 61

Yet my father, I’ve often been told,

Had once a large portion of sheep,

But winter flood broke down his fold,

And buried them all in the deep.

My mother, alas! she is dead;

My sorrow she now cannot feel;

To earn her a morsel of bread

I work’d very hard at my wheel.

She said, for my duty and love,

A blessing I surely should know;

I trust I shall find it above,

For grief is my portion below.

I have heard our good curate oft tell

Many things about Angels of light,

That in virtue and truth they excel;

Such Celadon seem’d in my sight.

Oh! break thou too credulous heart,

I am sick of thy passionate strife;

The victim of Celadon’s art

Is weary of him and of life.

H3v 62

Yet the curses of vengeance to frame

Is a sin that I dare not commit;

This heart, which still throbs at his name,

Will never the outrage permit.

My wrongs, oh! they all are forgiven,

And my last dying wish it shall be;

May he never be question’d by heaven,

For vows he has broken to me.

Go fetch home thy new wedded fair,

Thy joys I will never molest;

I have found out a cure for despair;

My heart shall be quickly at rest.

No more shall the night’s peaceful air

Be vex’d by my clamorous breath

I have found out a cure for despair,

’Tis silence—the silence of death.

H4r 63

Pastoral II.

Florizel.

Intreat me not, Stella, to go

Any more to the sports on the green;

My heart is too heavy with woe,

To partake in the festival scene.

Where laughter and pleasure invite,

Let the gay and the happy repair;

But think’st thou these scenes will delight

The dim vacant eye of despair.

You tell me my tresses hang rude,

That my garments ungracefully fit;

Can a mind, by affliction subdu’d,

These trivial attentions admit?

H4v 64

Whilst musing on Florizel’s worth,

Shall my hands my loose tresses restrain?

Oh! never, unless the cold earth

Will give me my shepherd again.

When the bells of the village, to-day,

The bridals of Philida told,

I fear’d I should quite faint away;

My heart in an instant was cold.

Did you fancy it envy? oh! no,

I thought of the deep tolling bell,

When with cadence, so solemn and slow,

It rung out my Florizel’s knell.

He droop’d as the flowers droop beneath

The scythe, when it cuts down the vale;

He shrunk, in the chill grasp of death,

Like blossoms in tempests of hail.

Those flow’rets the spring will renew,

And restore the green tint to the grove;

But the grave, from my passionate view,

Will for ever detain him I love.

I1r 65

His father, in agony wild,

Has torn the grey locks from his head;

His mother still calls for the child

By whom she was cherish’d and fed.

Him the aged would ever commend,

They pointed him out to the young;

Yet his manners did never offend,

For gentleness dwelt on his tongue.

His eyes, oh! they sweetly express’d

Peace and love in their radiance serene

Sincerity glow’d in his breast,

And appear’d in his frank open mien.

I could dwell on this passionate theme,

Still musing on joys that are fled;

They are vanish’d, as flies the faint dream

That hovers around the sick bed.

You tell me my lambs are all lost,

The tidings are nothing to me;

That my bower too is stripp’d by the frost,

That bower I will never more see.

I I1v 66

Let not spring bid the violet blow,

Nor the pallid leav’d primrose unfold;

Shall the woodbine luxuriantly grow

When the hand of the planter is cold?

You talk of my beauty and wit,

Saying grief is more fatal than time;

That mortals are born to submit,

And sorrow indulg’d is a crime:—

When the heart is serene and at ease,

These precepts sound smooth to the ear;

But reasons so futile as these,

Affliction refuses to hear.

Would you soothe me, oh! talk of the youth;

Of the graces he largely possess’d:

His virtue, his courage, his truth,

And the grief that the village express’d.

Of Love! too intense to deceive,

Recall all the proofs that he gave,

And still at the summons of eve

Go with me to weep o’er his grave.

I2r 67

There I yield all my soul up to grief,

Could you think there is pleasure in tears?

Nor blame my too easy belief,

There I fancy his spirit appears.

I hear his lov’d voice in the breeze,

He calls for his Mira aloud:

Now I see him glide light through the trees;

Now he floats on the swift sailing cloud.

To my cottage exhausted I creep,

Tir’d Nature some respite demands;

’Tis in vain that I seek it in sleep,

By my side my lov’d Florizel stands.

Now he seems like the youth that I lost,

With the smile I was wont to adore:

Now he fades to a pale visag’d ghost;

Now I see the lov’d vision no more.

My friends talk of comfort, oh! where

Can I find it, in meadow or grove?

Can the heart-soothing blessing be there?

They are full of the image of love.

I2 I2v 68

To hear the sweet nightingale sing,

With him have I walk’d through the grove;

And still at the coming of spring

My flocks to the meadow he drove.

Thus through the sad visions of night,

And the scenes which the morning restores,

My soul, still with pensive delight,

Its dear but lost idol explores.

Oh! my friends, I’m in haste to be gone,

Life seems to me dreary and bare:

I have form’d one poor wish, only one,

’Tis the comfortless wish of despair.

But ye who compassionate grieve,

O’er sorrows ye cannot remove,

Allow me, to each, to bequeath

Some slender memorial of love.

While to these fond remembrance imparts

A sacred though fanciful worth,

Poor Mira shall live in your hearts,

When she moulders away in the earth.

I3r 69

I’ve a treasure from which I’ll ne’er part,

’Tis a lock of my Florizel’s hair:

I hold it full oft to my heart,

And it softens the pangs that are there.

Dear ringlet! no more shalt thou wave

In curls o’er his forehead benign:

I snatch’d thee from Florizel’s grave,

To make thee companion of mine.

Not with sorrow, or agony wild,

I look to that harbour of rest;

Thou hast seen a tir’d petulant child

Drop asleep on its mother’s fond breast.

Let yon weary labourer speak,

When at noon-tide he faints o’er his spade,

When he wipes the big drops from his cheek,

And wishes for night’s dewy shade.

That long awful night which shall last

To the dawn of unlimited day;

That slumber which will not be past

’Till the world, like a dream, fades away.

I3v 70

My friends, if your aid I decline,

And these blessings with eagerness crave,

Forgive me; affliction like mine

Can only repose in the grave.

Prepare then the slow moving herse,

On my corse be the rosemary flung;

Let the choristers o’er me rehearse

The dirge they o’er Florizel sung.

When in winter ye meet round the hearth,

The days that are past to review;

When ye talk of my Florizel’s worth,

Remember his Mira was true.

I4r 71

Pastoral III.

Geraldine.

The Scene is supposed to be in some part of the Highlands.

My language is rude and uncooth,

My manners are simple and plain:

Oh! Geraldine, scorn not a youth

Whose heart is too honest to feign.

By others thy charms are describ’d;

They talk of their kind and degree:

Such passion my soul hath imbib’d,

Thou seem’st all perfection to me.

I4v 72

In thy eye a mild energy flames,

Soft elegance floats in thy air,

And methinks every feature proclaims

A mind correspondently fair.

Dear maid! I conjure thee, appear

The angel that Nature design’d;

Be honest, at least be sincere,

Though sincerity makes thee unkind.

My temper is ardent and warm,

I was bred on the mountain’s rough side;

The labour, that strengthen’d my arm,

With courage my bosom supply’d.

My virtues resemble a soil

That boasts no improvement from art;

The offspring of nature and toil

They glow with full force in my heart.

I have met the keen wind of the North,

When it brought the thick tempest of snow;

I have seen the fork’d lightning burst forth,

When the forests have shrunk from the blow.

K1r 73

To rescue my lambs and my sheep

The loud mountain torrent I’ve brav’d:

It was clamorous, stormy, and deep,

But the tremblers I happily sav’d.

I have climb’d to the top of the cliff,

Whose summit bends far o’er the main,

From thence I’ve look’d out for the skiff

Of the fisher, beneath me, in vain.

Yet here, on its uttermost verge,

Their young ones the Penguins will rear;

What time they from ocean emerge,

And spread their broad pinions in air.

There the eggs of the sea fowl I sought,

And the samphire that redolent blooms;

From that eminence haply I brought

The feathers that form thy light plumes.

There I clung while the spray of the waves

Rose like mists o’er the rocks at my feet,

And the birds darting fast from the caves,

Seem’d with clamour to guard their retreat.

K K1v 74

I have sail’d on the lake in my boat,

When the West hath look’d dusky and red,

When the Sea-mew, with ominous note,

Seem’d to call to the feast of the dead.

From the hills the storm menacing howl’d,

The firs thund’ring fell down the steep;

O’er the sky darkness awfully scowl’d,

And horribly roar’d the vex’d deep.

My vessel o’erwhelm’d in the shock,

I rose on the salt surge up-born;

I swam to the caves in the rock,

And waited the coming of morn.

There chill’d by the keen driving blast,

And drench’d by the pitiless rain,

The day has reliev’d me at last,

But the night never heard me complain.

I have past o’er the mountain, which shrouds

Its summit in regions divine,

When the moon, sailing swift through the clouds,

Tipp’d with silver the arrowy pine.

K2r 75

There I met the procession of death;

It pass’d me in shadowy glare,

Slow it mov’d to the valley beneath,

Then melted illusive in air.

A spirit intrepid as mine,

These dangers, these terrors, could prove;

But do not, oh! damsel divine,

Bid it feel the long anguish of love.

Would’st thou bid me approve the regard

And the faith that has never deceiv’d,

Oh! think of some enterprize hard,

And thine eyes shall behold it achiev’d.

Young Carol in dancing is skill’d;

He the pipe’s touching notes can prolong:

I have listen’d with extacy thrill’d,

For love was the theme of his song.

New fashions I ne’er could devise;

He varies his habit and air;

My soul could the trifler despise,

But I hear he is lov’d by the fair.

K2 K2v 76

Then teach me, dear girl of my soul,

Every grace that thy taste shall commend;

Tho’ I brook not the nod of controul,

My mind to thy guidance shall bend:

Thou shalt smile, Oh! thy smiles will excel

The mornings that June gives to view,

When the woodbine perfumes all the dell,

And the rose blushes soft through the dew.

I would talk of my flock and my herd;

But a venal consent I detest,

’Tis sufficient what fortune conferr’d,

Contentment and industry blest.

How pleasing the toils wou’d appear

That prudence enjoin’d for thy sake;

How grateful the fruits of the year

If Geraldine was to partake.

Thou art artless and modest, my love,

But alas! thou art tender and frail;

Thou seem’st like the innocent dove,

Or the lilly that grows in the vale.

K3r 77

All delicate, soft, and refin’d,

Thou call’st for protection and care;

For the world is still false and unkind

To those who are friendless and fair.

Thy husband, protector, and friend,

Oh! let me those titles receive;

When this arm shall be slack to defend,

This bosom no longer shall heave.

Thou, Geraldine, round our recess,

The smile of chaste tenderness throw;

And the cottage thy presence shall bless,

Will seem a new Eden below.

K3v

Character I.

Fortitude.

Aurelia.

Behold the venerable Aloe meet

The frost of ages with perennial bloom:

On its firm leaf an hundred annual suns

Have pour’d from Leo’s height the torrid ray.

As oft the painted offspring of the spring

Have opened their frail blossoms and expir’d.

Disdaining transient praise, she slow unfolds

Her snowy flowers, by centuries matur’d,

To charm with fragrance children yet unborn,

And mock the perishable race of man.

K4r 79

Thou, my esteem’d Aurelia, too can’st boast

An excellence by added years improv’d.

Let beauty, like the fluttering butterfly,

Enjoy a summer’s glory. Thou can’st please

Ev’n in the autumn of declining life;

Nor is the dreaded winter of old age

Destructive to the produce of thy soul:

Still shall the experience teach, good humour charm,

Judgement convince, and polish’d sense improve.

Nor these thy only praises. Thou hast met

Those sharpest daggers of adversity,

That pierce with thrilling sense the nerves of pain;

Thy frame with weak decripitude oppress’d

Beyond the common lot, and from thy arms

Thy bosom’s treasures prematurely snatch’d,

And born in life’s full vigour to the tomb:

Yet thy calm Fortitude sustain’d the storm,

Like the firm Oak beset around with winds,

Oppress’d, but not o’erthrown. To thy abode

The gay, the happy, and the young, repair;

Assur’d to hear no querulous complaints

At wayward fortune, and degenerate times;

K4v 80

Assur’d to see thy sprightly sallies wake

The unembitter’d laugh, to humour dear.

Pleas’d they arraign the theme, which paints old age

Austere, and uncomplying. Pleas’d they find

Superiour minds, disdaining narrow views,

Assert the native dignity of man.

Pilgrims on earth, and journeying on to heav’n,

The seat of true felicity, and peace;

They never seek the beauteous exiles here,

Nor blame the want by Providence design’d.

L1r 81

Character II.

Sensibility.

Celinda.

Say, sweet Mimosa! The Sensitive Plant. wherefore dost thou fly

The gentlest touch? why droop thy shrivell’d leaves?

I would not harm thee, trembler; I but meant

To view thy glossy foliage, to explore

The wond’rous mechanism which contracts

Thy flowers susceptible. In the vast chain,

The fine gradation of created forms,

Thine is no common rank. Thou could’st not meet,

Like mountain pines, the rigour of the frost;

Or, as the oak, enroot thyself in storms.

L L1v 82

Come, let me bear thee to the shelter’d South,

Ev’n there the fervour of the noon-day sun,

Or the chill dews of eve, would fatal prove.

Too delicate exotic, wherefore quit

Thy native soil? our rugged changeful clime

Ill suits thy efflorescence frail as fair.

In this rare plant my lov’d Celinda’s mind

Is typify’d. On her the softest gales,

That from misfortunes wintry quarters blow,

Fall with the force of tempests. Tender fear,

Fond love, and sympathizing pity, form

Her mental portrait. There in vain we seek

The conscious firmness of heroic worth,

Or patient fortitude, who calmly bears

The secret bitings of the mortal asp,

And hides its wound ev’n from affection’s eye.

But, in their stead, shall pity’s pious tear

Bedew Celinda’s cheek: still shall her tongue

Sweetly repeat the melancholy tale:

Still on the breast of sorrow shall she pour

Compassion’s balm, and on pale want bestow

All, that the voice of lib’ral bounty bids.

L2r 83

Character III.

Gentleness.

Miranda.

Student of Nature! if at early prime,

When on th’ awaken’d earth Leucothia throws,

From her grey robe, the trembling pearls of dew

For Phœbus to illumine, haply then

Thou rov’st through Flora’s variegated tribes,

Whether on mead, or copse, or heath-crown’d hill,

Careless, uncultur’d, redolent, they spread;

Or those by taste selected to adorn

L2 L2v 84

The proud parterre, or through the shrubb’ry’s maze

Dispos’d in artless order. To the sun

They give their hues; their fragrance to the breeze.

Hast thou beheld the lilly, spotless queen

Of summer’s painted offspring? Hast thou mark’d

Her snowy flowers, smooth as the shining down

On the fledg’d cygnet’s glossy chest? Its sweets,

When heighten’d by the balm of evening showers,

Thou could’st not pass regardless. ’Tis with these

Hygeia shades the wreath, she annual twines,

To crown the brows of Pæon. Beauteous flower!

Fragile and transient. Transient too wast thou,

Belov’d Miranda. Oh! too early lost

For thy fond friends, too early call’d to bear

The golden palm of immortality,

The glorious meed of excellence like thine.

Retentive Friendship, (as her languid arm

Clasps to her breast thy urn, and pleas’d enjoys

The silent luxury of patient woe)

Bids thy lov’d image rise! Thy beauteous form,

Fair as the lilly, as the lilly pure;

Thy unoffending life—mild candid life.

L3r 85

No whim of wayward spleen, no stormy burst

Of haughty rage, no supercillious shew

Of talents, falsely brilliant. ’Twas thy aim

To tread the path of goodness; to delight

With easy mirth, and social converse all

Within thy sphere of action; to relieve

Those whom discerning Charity led forth

To drink of bounty’s full, yet sober cup;

To give the infant mind that happy bend,

Whose spring elastic lifts the soul to heav’n;

To heal those wounds the cauterising world

Prints on ingenuous minds, which but the balm

Of sympathy can medicine. Happy soul!

Ev’n in this sublunary planet bless’d,

Thy life the peace of virtue well display’d,

Thy death her fortitude—as infants sink

On the fond mother’s breast in slumbers calm,

So unappall’d in the chill tyrant’s grasp,

I saw thee droop beneath his ebon wand,

Dreadful to others, but despis’d by thee.

Oh! spirit soon beatified; oh! friend;

Oh! gentle monitress; companion sweet――

L3v 86

Forgive the tear which rebel Nature sheds:

The tear by Faith forbidden. Fond regret,

As on thy tomb she lays the votive wreath

Nor venal, nor by adulation wove,

Ev’n on the core of her impassion’d heart

She graves the virtues in thy life disclos’d.

Oh! may she imitate that blameless life,

Whose end was peace, whose issue is in heav’n.

L4r 87

Character IV.

Diffidence.

Stella.

For your own Stella, Muses—she whose thirst

With eager stealth Castalia’s stream pursues,

A garland weave of flowers, the happy growth

Of Heliconian groves, and bind the wreath

With laurels, crop’d from Delphos,—grace must mark

The fair selection: Taste arrange the flowers.

No gaudy foliage, no ill sorted hues,

No over-weening blossoms. Simple all

In unobtrusive elegance. It suits

The mind of Stella, the ingenuous mind,

Cultur’d by science and by sense inform’d.

Which, like the primrose, from the trodden path

Of life retires to decorate the vale.

L4v 88

Ye supercilious spirits, who despise

The blush of Diffidence, the sober charm

Of gentleness and reason, the sweet tear,

That feeling claims from timid modesty,

Alive to shame and fearful to offend,

Who with the noisy laugh of wit can drown

The faultering voice of merit, that disdains

To urge her pleas, save to attention’s ear.

Know, the rich gem, your folly proudly spurns,

Bears on its surface grav’d the heavenly form

Of unassuming genius. Friendship there,

Rob’d in her Roman stola, careful lights

Her radiant lamp at Virtue’s deathless flame.

Beside her Sympathy, a weeping grace,

Crown’d with the drooping lilly of the vale,

Sits smiling through her tears. Fidelity,

A goddess rarely found, and strongly mark’d

By truth’s irradiate beams, is there pourtray’d.

She, by the fickle world deceiv’d and scorn’d,

In Stella’s bosom finds a safe retreat,

And builds her peaceful habitation there.

M1r

A Description of
Religion.

A Fragment.

My Muse would lead thee to the fair domain,

Where, thron’d in bliss, the Sister Virtues reign:

Known by her heav’nly mein and wide command,

Benign Religion leads the hallow’d band;

Around her brow immortal roses wave,

Giv’n for her triumph o’er the ghastly grave.

For she the sacred path of Jesus trod,

And prov’d death vanquish’d by victor God.

To him, pale tyrant, now the task is giv’n

To ope to joyful saints the golden gates of heav’n.

M M1v 90

Hail! hallow’d queen, what tho’ thy piercing sight

Dwells on the regions of eternal light;

Tho’ to the snares of sin thou canst oppose

Faith’s stedfast rock, on which the just repose;

What tho’, whilst prison’d in this earthly cell,

Thy thoughts with cherubs and with seraphs dwell;

Who, pleas’d, for thee the crown and robe prepare,

And eager wish thee in their joys to share:

First-born of heaven, of all the virtues queen,

Yet no assumings stigmatize thy mein.

No scorn of others thy meek eyes express;

No modes peculiar rule thy graceful dress;

Conscious of worth, but yet intent to please,

Thy air is blended majesty and ease.

Thy truths, stupendous to the wondering sage,

The simple infants lowly heart engage.

’Tis thine the whirl of youthful blood to calm;

To palsied hands thou giv’st thy victor palm.

Thou, and thou only, canst unhurt sustain

The fiery trial of distress and pain.

Thine is the glory, unseduc’d, to rove

Through soft prosperity’s bewitching grove:

M2r 91

To force profusion from the hearts strong hold,

And give to Charity his wand of gold.

Alike to thee the world’s contempt and praise,

Unerring rectitude thy conduct sways.

But, in mortality’s last ling’ring hour,

’Tis then thou triumph’st with superior pow’r:

For, as eternity withdraws her veil,

Struck by her rays, the lights of science fail.

The soul, affrighted at the new survey,

Clings to its burden of distemper’d clay,

On the weak aids of failing sense relies,

And, shuddering, turns from the disclosing skies.

Then, whilst around the pow’rs of darkness dance,

And with fresh poisons barb each mortal lance,

’Tis thine to dissipate the hell-bred gloom,

To chace the horrors, that o’er-cloud the tomb.

For as thou spread’st Faith’s adamantine shield,

The shafts of Satan to its temper yield;

The soul, compos’d, the untry’d gulph essays,

Then soars to carol everlasting praise.

M2 M2v

On Reading
Mrs. Carter’s
Poems.

Such was the awful dignity of song,

When bless’d Urania struck her lyre of yore,

Such maxims Pallas gave th’ attentive throng,

When Athens listen’d to her sacred lore.

Away—ye fables! In such gentle tone

Religion speaks, when, with persuasive art,

She makes the awaken’d passions all her own,

And stamps conviction on the yielding heart.

M3r 93

Boast, happy Britain! thy Eliza’s strain,

By genius fraught with energy divine,

Avoiding objects perishing and vain,

Gives its full pomp of verse to virtue’s shrine.

Boast, that the hand, which elegantly dress’d

Sage Epictetus in thy chaste attire,

Thy classic stores with richer precepts bless’d,

Than ever Pagan wisdom could inspire.

Oh! boast, that Attic sweetness, in her lays,

With Revelation’s awful theme conspires,

And give the noblest guerdon of thy praise

To strains adapted to seraphic lyres.

M3v

On the Sonnets
Of

Mrs. Charlotte Smith.

The widow’d turtle, mourning for her love,

Breathes the soft plaintive melody of woe:

And streams, that gently steal along the grove,

In murmurs dear to melancholy flow.

Yet to thy strains, sweet nymph of Arun’s vale,

Harsh is the turtle’s note, and harsh the stream,

E’vn when their echos die upon the gale,

Or catch attention by the lunar beam.

M4r 95

Thy strains soul-harrowing melting pity hears,

Yet fears to break thy privacy of pain,

She blots thy page with sympathetic tears,

And while she mourns thy wrongs enjoys thy strain.

Hast thou indeed no solace? does the earth

Afford no balm thy anguish to relieve?

Still must thou feel the pang of suff’ring worth,

Taught by refinement but to charm and grieve.

Oh! if despair directs thy pensive eyes

To where death terminates terrestrial woes,

May faith from thence exalt them to the skies,

Where glory’s palm for suffering virtue grows.

There may thy lyre, whose sweetly magic pow’rs

From pain’d attentions forc’d applauding tears,

With hallelujahs fill the eternal bowers,

The theme prolonging through eternal years.

M4v 96

On Mrs. Trimmer.

If science, sense, and virtue, claims applause,

Why, daughter of the vale, is she unsung,

Whose page, describing Nature’s source and laws,

With truths fair theme informs the infant tongue?

“The poets eye may in fine phrenzy roll,” Midsummer Night’s Dream.

His breast may heave with strong conception fraught:

While inspiration, streaming on his soul,

Gives glowing diction and impassion’d thought.

N1r 97

Genius and taste may modulate the line,

And chaste correctness guide the choral Muse;

Yet still, Mentoria, ampler praise is thine,

For that thy step instruction’s path pursues.

Go, stamp fair virtue on the ductile soul;

O’er humble babes Immanuel’s rule extend;

The passions early bend to just controul,

And form the Christian, Citizen, and Friend.

The untaught child of indigence reclaim,

To happy industry its hands apply;

Oh! teach its trembling voice a Saviour’s name,

And bid it useful live, and joyful die.

Lo! infant cherubs, whose immortal powers,

Thy care adapted to heaven’s bright abode;

Dismiss’d from earth, in ever-blooming bowers,

Will bless the hand which led them to their God.

N N1v

On Miss Seward.

Strik’st thou thy lyre, Calliope, again?

The magick of these numbers must be thine:

Such the bold choral of thy potent strain,

The glow of thought, and energy divine.

No mortal ear hath ever heard its tone,

Since Thracian dames depriv’d thy son Orpheus. of breath;

Who sang divided love’s heart-rending groan

In numbers sweet as thine on Andre’s death.

N2r 99

Vain is the subterfuge, which seeks to hide

The latent goddess with a mortal veil;

Let genius, let poetic taste decide,

To whom belongs Louisa’s plaintive tale.

Hast thou not heard that Britain, favour’d long

By all thy sisters of the tuneful tribe,

Has nurs’d the bold purloiner of thy song,

The felon nymph, who dares thy lay transcribe.

Rise, injur’d Muse! thy pristine rights display,

Thine is the strain which captivates mankind;

Usurping Seward shall resign the bay,

By Britain’s erring voice to her assign’d.

N2 N2v

Pelew.


This Poem was occasioned by reading Mr. Keate’s animated description
of the Pelew islands. To those who have not had the
pleasure of perusing that performance, a few explanatory notes
may not be deemed unnecessary.

Along the star impeopled sky

Full thirty moons had run,

Since Abba Thule, The East-India Company’s ship the Antelope, being wrecked
on Oroolong, one of the Pelew islands, Abba Thule the king, and
his subjects, gave the crew a most hospitable reception, and assisted
them with every thing their country afforded.
with manly grief,

Dismiss’d his vent’rous son. The King, at the departure of the English, entrusted his second
son, Lee Boo, to the care of Captain Wilson, that he might, to use
his own words, be made an Englishman.

N3r 101

Go, youth! the prudent Monarch said,

This wond’rous England view:

Go to that distant world, disclose

The virtues of Pelew.

To useful arts thy hands apply,

To useful lore attend,

So shall the travels of thy youth

Thy riper age befriend.

For not to please thy roving eye

Thou seek’st the land unknown,

But that its wisdom, arts, and arms,

May dignify thy own.

Nor let the grandeur of the scene

With fear thy soul appall;

’Tis but a mockery, a shew,

True worth transcends it all.

Ye friendly strangers! to whose care

My darling I confide,

Oh! think, henceforth a father’s love

Must be by you supplied.

N3v 102

Good speed to all, when on this line Abba Thule enquired of Captain Wilson how long it might
probably be before his son returned, and being informed about
thirty moons, he made a correspondent number of knots upon a
piece of line, and carefully laid it by.

No record I discern,

I’ll climb the heights of Oroolong,

And wait my son’s return.

Here ceas’d the just, benignant Prince,

The flowing sails expand,

And Britain’s generous tars with grief

Forsake the friendly land.

Remember’d kindness fill’d each eye

With sympathetic tears,

Depress’d with woe each feeling heart,

And check’d the parting cheers. The English were so affected at the kindness of these islanders,
that they could scarce articulate three cheers at parting.

And now to grace his son’s return,

When free from regal cares,

The tender father, with delight,

The polish’d bone The Pelew Chiefs wear a bone bracelet, as a mark of dignity. prepares.

N4r 103

No more on the recording line

A token he discerns;

He climbs the heights of Oroolong,

No more his son returns.—

Nor yet with tidings of his fate,

Where parts the coral reef, The Western side of the islands are inclosed by a reef of coral,
upon which the Antelope was wrecked; there is an opening in one
part, with a sufficient depth of water to enable a small vessel to
pass safely.

He sees the well known English sail,

Or well known English Chief.

To-morrow’s sun perhaps may bring

The dear expected youth;

He will not yield to mean complaint,

Nor doubt the English truth.

To-morrow’s sun, Oh King! ascends,

It sets unblest by thee,

And wherefore did I trust my child

To yon unpitying sea?

N4v 104

Cold with my darling lie entomb’d

Each valiant English friend;

Or would not those I sav’d from death

To my distress attend?

The angry spirit They have a notion of a bad spirit, and future happiness to
the good.
hath prevail’d,

Its curse my hopes betray’d,

Yet in the happy isles above

My motives shall be weigh’d.

In those blue fields, those sunny clouds,

For virtue soon confess’d,

Lee Boo enjoys perpetual peace,

There too shall I be bless’d.

So spake the Sire, yet sigh’d to find

His anxious wishes vain:

Nor ere must Europe’s envy’d arts

Adorn his simple reign.

O1r 105

And now he marks the funeral plant, Their funeral rites, as described by Mr. Keate, correspond
with the above account.

And lays it on the ground:

Then bending o’er it, chaunts a dirge,

And piles the turf around.

Prince of Humanity, thy fears This amiable youth, whose gentleness and penetration endeared
him to all who saw him, died of the small pox soon after his arrival
in England.

Are just—thy son is dead,

But England’s dust, not ocean’s wave,

Conceals the stranger’s head.

He came, with confidence and joy

Her welcome pleas’d she gave—

With sweet simplicity he charm’d,

Then sunk into the grave.

Then wither’d all his father’s hopes

And all his country’s fame,

Then fled a soul which, ev’n in death,

Confess’d a patriot’s flame.

O O1v 106

His powerless but impassion’d wish,

His lov’d Pelew rejoin’d,

“To tell that England was a good place,” His dying words.

And English very kind.

Far from his country, kindred, sire,

His tomb affection rears, The Hon. East India Company expressed their gratitude to his
father, by placing an handsome inscription over his grave.

Graves with his name the votive stone,

And bathes it with her tears.

There, as she paints uncultur’d worth

And unaffected grace,

She shames the boasts of letter’d pride,

And Europe’s polish’d race.

Mild, uncorrupt, tho’ unadorn’d,

The natives of Pelew

Present the portrait of an heart,

To artless goodness true.

O2r 107

In sophistry’s deep maze unlearn’d,

In studious lore untaught,

They only know the useful law

Of acting as they ought.

In happy ignorance of all

The ills of polish’d life,

That wealth, which arms the midnight foe,

And lures the faithless wife.

Firm, not ferocious, brave, sincere,

Industrious, and content,

In scenes of inoffensive toil

Their blameless lives are spent.

And will not heav’n, for them, unclose

Her golden gates of light?

Will not the God, to them unknown,

The life he loves requite?

Will not the Saviour, whom they ne’er

Were call’d on to confess,

The charity himself enjoins

With promis’d glory bless?

O2 O2v 108

Faith’s precious ray, by Nature’s light,

But partially supplied,

Will their just Maker claim of them

The talent he denied?

Hence be the narrow mind, that views

The savage with disdain,

Hence be the arrogance, that dares

To limit mercy’s reign.

For ever open are thy doors,

Thou city of our God!

By every people, kindred, tongue,

Shall thy large courts be trod.

Then controversial pride shall meet

The brother he disown’d,

And see the children of the South

With Abraham’s sons enthron’d.

Then shall philanthropy transcend

Their systematic plan:

And only truth and goodness give

Pre-eminence to man.

O3r

The Petition
of the
Roses.

To a Friend in Ireland.

The new blown Roses to their friend,

Long absent, a petition send.

Now when thy groves redundant wear

The vernal garland of the year,

’Mongst whom the insect tribes of spring

Incessant ply the busy wing;

Oh! say; what charm, what magic power,

Keeps thee from thy Arcrasian bower. The Bower of Bliss.—See Fairy Queen.

O3v 110

Long since you pass’d, with eager haste,

Rude Cambria’s mountain-piled waste,

Which, like the hills in Classic ground,

Were wont with choral harps to sound.

The theme, the deeds of chieftains bold,

Those hills now dreary, mute, and cold,

You left and launch’d upon the tide,

Whose waves the sister isles divide.

Fearless you brav’d the wintry blast,

Which howling shook the rocking mast.

Luxurious, uncontroll’d, and gay,

You saw Ierne meet the day,

And, like a lover, strive to keep

His chariot from the Atlantic steep.

O’er many a marsh and barren moor,

In legend fam’d, you pass’d secure

To where, through Munster’s lakes and bowers,

His world of waters Shannon pours.

Hither with patient zeal you sped,

But not by roving humour led:

You went to ease the anxious cares,

Which press’d a matron’s silver hairs.

O4r 111

You went, to her endear’d caress

To give the happy son you bless,

By filial piety to prove

At once your merit and your love.

You sought, tho’ with mistaken aim,

To cherish Nature’s languid flame.

You knew not, rapture’s high-wrought strife

Breaks the fine filaments of life.

Yet seek no more, by fond complaint,

To stay the venerable saint.

Short gleams of bliss on earth is giv’n,

’Tis only permanent in heav’n.

Her virtue, by long conflicts prov’d,

Fits her to meet the God she lov’d.

The sacred relicts of the just

Giv’n to the grave in holy trust,

And every pious right fulfill’d,

That faith enjoin’d, or love impell’d,

Oh! come and taste, with mind serene,

The beauties of the rural scene,

The fearless crocus, Flora’s king,

Led forth the army of the spring.

O4v 112

Then, bold with wintry winds to fight,

The snowdrop spread her banners white.

The hyacinth, of tender form,

To soothe the anger of the storm,

Expos’d her beauty fair and frail,

And died before the ruthless gale.

The coward shrubs, at distance far,

Beheld, nor durst provoke the war,

Till May, attir’d in robes of green,

Demanded homage as their queen.

Then first the lilack gave to view

Her mantle of imperial blue.

Then the laburnum, tribute paid,

In vegetable gold array’d.

Syringa, like the lilly pale,

Diffus’d her fragrance to the gale.

The woodbine hung her vines above

To listen to the linnets love.

Unprais’d, unnotic’d, by thy eye,

These early blossoms fade and die.

True to their ’custom’d season, see

The Roses load the bending tree.

P1r 113

Shall we too seek our annual tomb,

Nor in thy moss-deck’d basket bloom?

Nor thron’d upon thy bosom shew

Our richly variegated glow?

Thy taste is wanting to dispose

The foliage, that redundant grows.

Ah! do not thy return delay,

’Till winter whitens every spray,

’Till none of all our hoarded sweets

Thy morning walk with incense greets:

And Flora must thy garland chuse

From aconite and solemn yews.

Oh! haste, while summer’s fleecy clouds

Float gently o’er the swelling shrouds.

Let not thy vent’rous bark again

Encounter the autumnal main.

Death, when stormy Centaur raves,

Prepares his numerous wat’ry graves,

And leads his cypress-crowned host

Triumphant round Ierne’s coast.

P P1v 114

Oh! haste, thy anxious friends rejoin,

(For many an anxious friend is thine)

The terrors of the stormy sea

And craggy rocks they dread for thee.

Thy smile is wanting to endear

The full luxuriance of the year;

What time the dancing lunar beam

Sheds o’er the grove a silver gleam;

When Nature takes a softer hue,

Her flowing vest impearl’d with dew,

While list’ning to the night-bird’s song,

They lack the music of thy tongue;

If thy lov’d flowers unheard complain,

Yet Friendship shall not ask in vain.

Thy groves in welcome shall renew

The early summer’s softest hue.

Come then, return, with rapture taste

The pleasures in retirement plac’d.

Again thy tranquil hours shall glide

Calm, as the riv’let by thy side.

Virtue alone these joys shall claim,

And thou and virtue art the same.

P2r

To the
Hon. Mrs. C――e.

C――e, whom providence hath plac’d

In the rich realms of polish’d taste,

Where judgement penetrates to find

The treasures of the unwrought mind,

Where conversation’s ardent spirit

Refines from dross the ore of merit,

Where emulation aids the flame

And stamps the sterling bust of fame.

Can you, accustom’d to behold

The purest intellectual gold,

P2 P2v 116

Where genius sheds its living rays,

Bright as the sunny diamond’s blaze,

Like idle Virtuosio deign

To pick up pebbles from the plain?

Pleas’d, if the worthless flints pretend

Fantastic characters to blend.

These in your cabinet insert,

And real excellence desert.

Just, the comparison will be,

If you suppose the pebble me.

My verse, inelegant and crude,

Confus’d in sense, in diction rude.

You, not content with praising, spout

To friends of fashion at a rout.

You said the author was a charmer,

Self taught, and married to a farmer;

Who wrote all kind of verse with ease,

Made pies and puddings, frocks and cheese.

Her situation, tho’ obscure,

Was not contemptible or poor.

Her conversation spoke a mind

Studious to please, but unrefin’d.

P3r 117

So warm an interest you express’d,

It was not possible to jest.

The company amaz’d, perplex’d,

Wondering what whim would seize you next,

Perhaps expecting you would praise

The muse of Quarles, or Sternhold’s lays,

Stammer’d, as due to complaisance,

The civil speech of non-chalance.

But at the instant you withdrew,

The conversation turn’d on you.

The sonnet might perhaps have merit.

You had recited it with spirit.

Your manner was so full of grace,

They could not judge in such a case.

But give each character its due,

You seem’d a little partial too.

All, to commend your taste, agreed—

But friendship would the best mislead.

A warm enthusiastic heart

Would soon be wrought upon by art.

The Poem—tho’, indeed, no wonder

Th’ uneducated Muse should blunder,

P3v 118

Had here, and there, a small defect,

But ’twere invidious to object.

One thought aliteration fine,

And lik’d it every other line.

Another, might she be so free

Would substitute—a that for the.

A third said, judges will perceive,

Crown has a harsher sound than wreath,

A witty beau observ’d, the nation

Had verse enough for exportation,

Wish’d ladies would such arts despise,

And trust their conquests to their eyes.

For, on his honour, if the whim

Should spread, they’d be too wise for him.

A man of rank grew warm, and swore

The times were bad enough before.

He offer’d to bet ten to one,

The nation would be soon undone:

For honour, spirit, courage, worth,

Were flawed-reproductionone or two charactersall flawed-reproductionapproximately three wordsbirth;

And if the rustics grew refin’d,

Who would the humble duties mind.

P4r 119

They might, from scribbling odes and letters,

Proceed to dictate to their betters.

A fellow of a college said,

He studied nothing but the dead;

For men of sense have ne’er denied

That learning with the ancients died.

A lady, of distinguish’d taste,

Much stress on well-bred authors plac’d.

Tho’ she could never time bestow

On trash inelegant and low;

Yet science was her darling passion,

And she read every thing in fashion.

With her a lovely nymph agreed,

That people should with caution read:

And really, if she must confess,

That what with visiting and dress,

Music, her ever dear delight,

And cards, the business of the night,

Her leisure was so very small,

She could not say she read at all.

Oh! that the great ones would confine

Such treatment to such verse as mine,

P4v 120

Adapted but to entertain

A partial friend or simple swain.

Yet, with a votry’s ardent zeal,

The sorrows of the Muse I feel.

While Painting, for her sons can claim

At once emolument and fame;

While Music, when she strikes the chord,

Confers distinction and reward;

Contemptuous scorn, or cold regard,

Awaits the heaven-illumin’d Bard.

No more shall wealth, with fostering care,

Fair poesy’s frail blossoms rear.

No more shall favour’s influence bland

Bid the luxuriant growth expand.

No more shall candid judgement deign

That wild luxuriance to restrain.

No more shall chiefs, in arms renown’d,

Sue by the Muses to be crown’d.

Neglected, while the wintry storm

Tears the fine fibres of its form.

Q1r 121

As if disdaining to complain

Of patronage, implor’d in vain,

It withering droops its lovely head,

And sinks upon its native bed;

Mourn’d only by the lib’ral few――

I mean the counterparts of you.

Q Q1v

To Miss C――e,

With the Adventures of the
Six Princesses of Babylon.

A King, dear Matilda, in Babylon reign’d;

’Tis a fabulous legend I quote—

Six daughters he had whom a Fairy maintain’d;

Then Fairies were people of note.

Of droll Robin Goodfellow often you’ve heard,

Benigna was one of his sort;

But wisdom and virtue by her were conferr’d—

Little Robin taught junkets and sport.

Q2r 123

These ’foresaid young ladies, observe they’d no brothers,

Were handsome as――stop, I’ve forgot;

I could mention their likeness if writing to others;

To you, I believe, I’d best not.

Now the Fairy, regardless of beauty and birth,

Bade them only in virtue seek fame,

For rank she affirm’d was enobled by worth,

And I know your Mamma says the same.

In an elegant grotto, sequester’d and cool,

Long time she her pupils did teach:

But when they were old enough all to quit school,

She allotted a journey to each.

Miranda was clever—I doubt she was idle,

So the Fairy, that fault to restrain,

For discipline bad inclinations will bridle,

Desir’d her a distaff to gain.

What a princess to spin? I assure you I’m grave.

This distaff had powers would surprize you;

It was Industry call’d, health and riches it gave,

And to gain it I strongly advise you.

Q2 Q2v 124

The lady Florisa possess’d a good heart,

But her temper her virtues obscur’d;

She would often be sullen, or answer so tart,

That her manners could scarce be endur’d.

Now her excellent governess knew of a river,

Which lay in a country far fam’d,

One draught of which courteous demeanour would give her,

Good Humour the river was named.

So the Fairy bestow’d a gold bottle upon her,

And told her what course to pursue;

But when she return’d, I declare on my honour,

I should hardly have known her from you.

Clementina, in all the warm ardour of youth,

From the grotto exulting tripp’d forth,

Her charge was to fetch, from the genius of truth,

A spear of unparalleled worth.

Poor damsel full often she met with mischance,

By the magic of falshood deceiv’d;

But firm resolution procur’d her the lance,

The fame you from Nature receiv’d.

Q3r 125

By Bonetta the Mantle of meekness was worn,

Its whiteness the snow might express;

It was bright as the lustre that waits on the morn,

Don’t you long for this elegant dress?

Allow me to mention one property more,

All who saw these fair dames did declare,

Though Bonetta was rather hard-featur’d before,

She now seem’d transcendantly fair.

Of narrow soul’d Avarice doubtless you’ve heard,

It is selfish, and odious, and mean;

Its contrast, Profusion, is rash and absurd,

But there lies a sweet virtue between.

To prove it, when free from fictitious pretence,

A wonderful magnet was wrought;

This talisman, sacred to judgement and sense,

By lovely Orinda was sought.

Would you know her adventures at large, pray pursue her,

She gives a delightful narration;

It was found by a gallant young Knight, and brought to her

On a shield which he call’d Moderation.

Q3v 126

Thus five of these ladies their wishes achiev’d,

At last your young name-sake was sent;

She too, from Benigna, a mandate receiv’d,

’Twas to fetch the white wand of Content.

Disappointment, ingratitude, envy, and grief,

Did many a peril devise;

But a cherub, nam’d Innocence, brought her relief,

And with chearfulness gave her the prize.

And now to Benigna the travellers came,

The reward of their toils to receive;

She gave them, I know you will wish for the same,

Bright virtue’s unperishing wreath.

Now was I a Fairy, I vow I would send

To Matilda this magical wealth;

But as I am not, I’ll intreat my young friend

To try to acquire it herself.

The distaff, the mantle, the spear, and the wand,

The magnet, and river, so rare,

Your Mamma, my dear girl, has them all at command,

And can tell you at once where they are.

Q4r 127

For the wreath which Benigna procur’d by her art,

You need not to Fairies appeal;

For the moment these qualities glow in your heart,

Your brow the bright cincture will feel.

To speed your exertions, I’ll tell you a truth,

Disclos’d by Experience the sage;

Without them you’ll ne’er know the pleasures of youth,

Nor the rational comforts of age.

Q4v R1r

Edmund,
Surnamed
Ironside.

A Tragedy.

“Ambition—this shall tempt to rise, Then whirl the wretch from high To bitter Scorn a sacrifice And grinning Infamy.” Gray’s Ode on Eton Coll.
R R1v

Dramatis Personæ.

Men.

Edmund, King of England.

Canutus, King of Denmark.

Edrick, Edmund’s Brother.

Cefrid, Earl of Mercia.

Kenelm, English Nobleman.

Turkill,

Harold,

Danish Noblemen.

Allwynn, Friend of Edrick,

British and Danish Lords, Servants, &c.

Women.

Emma, Queen Dowager —Widow of Ethelred.

Elgiva, Queen of England.

Birtha.

Scene, Gloucester Castle and its Environs.
R2r

Edmund Ironside,

A Tragedy.

Act I.

Scene I.

Gloucester Castle Garden. Enter Emma and Birtha.

Emma.

Here distant from the cruel rage of war,

Securely placed in peaceful solitude,

We know but little of the gen’ral sorrow.

Yon venerable grove of spreading oaks

Kindly immures this antiquated castle

From proud Ambition’s eye. It seems to court

Neglected worth and ruin’d majesty,

To fly for shelter here.

Birtha.

How my soul yearns,

As I contemplate, Britain, all thy sufferings!

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Here, nurs’d by Peace, the virtues lov’d to dwell.

Alas! how chang’d! now Discord yells aloud;

Murder and Rapine, Perjury and Fraud,

Her hated offspring flourish.

Emma.

Yet may Britain

Hope to regain her ancient happiness.

E’er this brave Edmund, her avenging King,

(Who, for his strength unequall’d, hath obtain’d

The name of Ironside) attacks her foes.

O Birtha! Conquest must attend his cause,

Since Honor, rigid Justice, steady Courage,

Unite to draw his sword.

Birtha.

Heroic Man!

Brave in distress! Wise in prosperity!

The grace—the glory of the British Kings!

His soul, disdainful of the peace, his father

Inglorious Ethelred from Denmark purchas’d,

Awoke the slumbering virtue of his people,

And dar’d the Invader to the field of war.

Emma.

The stern Canutus, Denmark’s Victor Prince,

Our mortal foe, tho’ deem’d unmatch’d in arms,

Trembles (as oft I’ve heard) at Edmund’s name,

While scowling envy dims his alter’d eye.

Birtha.

E’en as the Sun with brighter lustre seems

To paint the face of Nature, when compar’d

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With the preceding tempest, so, great Edmund,

Thy virtues, weigh’d against thy Father’s crimes,

Appear more graceful.

Emma.

Stop, my gentle Birtha,

Nor curse my husband and thy Edrick’s father.

Let Britain’s foes dwell, with malicious joy,

On his disastrous reign: a wife must weep

And hush in reverent silence all his frailties.

Birtha.

Call’st thou him Husband? Oh! that sacred name,

Importing tenderest guardianship and love,

Sat but ungraceful on your tyrant Lord.

Love, the kind union of consenting souls,

Unnotic’d, at your Brother’s harsh command

You mov’d to Hymen’s altar: so of old,

Pale with her fears, with loath averted eye,

A sacrifice, the virgin Victim came.

Emma.

How hard, my Friend, the fate of those who bear

The envied evil of distinguish’d birth!

Ne’er must they listen to the potent call

Of fond Affection: Some designing Statesman,

Frigid of soul, the dire alliance forms,

That gives suppos’d stability to Empire.

By such as these was wretched Emma given

To English Ethelred. His arm they thought

Might succour Normandy. The vain design

Heaven view’d with indignation: For my Brother

Liv’d to behold the Man, by whose assistance

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He hoped to gain such plenitude of power,

Fly to his Court, to save a hated life,

Scorn’d by his subjects and bereft of all.

Birtha.

The Duke relented then?

Emma.

With many a tear

He bath’d my cheek, and clasping in his arms,

Wish’d he had given me to the man I lov’d,

Nor paid respect to asking Majesty.

Birtha.

Heard I aright? the man you loved.

Emma.

Yes, Birtha!

My heart, tho’ bursting with its secret woes,

Hath hid this sorrow long.

Birtha.

Trust, royal Emma,

My steadfast faith.

Emma.

’Twere infamous to doubt

Truth long approv’d. Too well thou know’st the tears

My eyes have shed for Ethelred’s hard usage;

Nor e’er suppos’d Love, hopeless Love, increas’d

The copious flood. Oh! Birtha, blame me not,

Nor think I swerv’d from Duty’s rigid laws.

Long e’er your Monarch led me to the altar,

I own’d my heart irrevocably gone.

Thou weep’st.

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Birtha.

Oh! Misery too like my own.

Emma.

’Twas at the time the female heart first beats

With sensibility, e’er reason governs,

A noble Stranger sought my Father’s Court

By martial tilting call’d. His person, Birtha,

Spake graceful dignity, and seem’d a shrine

For mental excellence. In ev’ry sport

Victor he shone. Methinks I now behold him,

The garland in his trembling hand, approach me:

He kneel’d and cried, “Accept, bright Maid, this token,

’Tis all a giftless Stranger can bestow,

And due to thee, thou fairest of the Fair!”

Oh! judge me not too harshly, when I own,

I blush’d with pleasure and receiv’d the prize.

Birtha.

Saw you him afterwards?

Emma.

The Duke, my Father,

(Than whom none dearer priz’d a Soldier’s name)

Pleas’d with his gallantry, requested much

His further stay. Thereto the Stranger Knight

Grateful assented; and by courteous manners

Won ev’ry heart. He soon of me obtain’d

A private conference, and implor’d my love,

Breathing the tenderest vows. Ah! dearest Friend,

Prosperity had made me idly gay.

Misfortune’s gloomy melancholy night

I ne’er had known. I own’d my infant flame,

Fancying each envied happiness my own.

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Birtha.

Protect us! was he false?

Emma.

His generous heart

Scorn’d every meanness, nor betray’d its trust.

But then my Brother, by your Monarch won

To grant his suit, that hated union nam’d.

Can words express my anguish? I confess’d

My secret choice. Then he assum’d the sovereign—

Vow’d to abandon me to infamy—

Compell’d my gallant Love to fly his realm

On pain of death—confin’d me in a castle—

From thence releas’d to be a wretched bride.

Birtha.

Knew you the Knight’s extraction?

Emma.

Once he own’d

Himself derived from Danish Ancestors,

Whose high achievements swell the trump of Fame.

This, tho’ intreated much, was all he own’d;

Nor have I since beheld him.

Birtha.

Pardon, Lady,

My wonder, that such juvenile regard

Lives still unconquer’d in your prudent breast.

Emma.

Birtha! the sentiments we nurs’d in youth,

Howe’er romantic, on the mem’ry grav’d

Are scarce expung’d by stealing age. Our hearts,

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Bold and rebellious, to the ruling mind

Pay scant allegiance. Coldly left to mourn

In solitude, that nurse of tender woes,

Fancy, too busy, sharp’ned ev’ry pang,

By painting happiness I might have known.

Birtha.

Unworthy Ethelred! he should have tried,

By kind attention, to have won thy heart.

But souls, like his, scorn manly gentleness.

Close wiles and guilty pleasures lov’d his Court.

Degenerate manners—Britain half-subdued—

The Danish massacre—the hateful tribute

To ev’ry distant age shall mark his name

With infamy.

Emma.

Forgive him, he is dead!

Is not the mem’ry of th’ unhappy sacred?

Now change the converse,—praise the royal Edmund

And thy dear Edrick, thy betrothed Lord.

Birtha.

I fear the Prince’s truth.

Emma.

Sweet Maid, he loves thee

With all the dotings of a gen’rous passion!

Birtha.

Alas! a temper, so reserv’d and stern,

Scorns the weak yieldings call’d by Woman, Love.

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Emma.

’Tis true, of late, he shews some dang’rous signs

Of growing rancour. With distemper’d eye

He views all objects. Hast thou not incens’d him

By cold indifference, or contemptuous scorn?

Birtha.

Too well he knows my easy heart his own,

And cruel scorns me as a foolish maid.

Whene’er we meet, no looks of tender love,

No gentle vows, escape him. His stern aspect

Bespeaks a mind intent on desp’rate schemes.

Anon he starts,—utters disjointed words――

Then leaves me trembling with uncertainty.

Heavens! should his thoughts aspire to Britain’s throne,

What must lost Birtha suffer.

Emma.

Dire suggestion!

O thou Eternal! ’tween the princely youths

Let lasting concord reign. For this, before

Yon altar, witness to my daily vows,

Humbly I’ll supplicate. The Queen approaches――

Sooth her my Birtha with thy gentle love,

Her fears for Edmund border on distraction.

Exit Emma.

Birtha.

Fears she for Edmund’s life? My harrass’d breast

Throbs with more horrid bodings.

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Scene II.

Enter Elgiva.

Birtha[Speaker label not present in original source]

Royal Mourner,

Yet turn, yet lift, thy melancholy eyes;

Think of the victories that grace thy Lord,

And let the thought breathe comfort to thy soul.

Elgiva.

Talk not of comfort, for my soul is griev’d

By long suspence. No tidings yet from Edmund.

The moon has wax’d and wan’d since last we parted,

In war for speed he used to imitate

The darting lightning. If success were ours,

The welcome tidings had been soon despatched

To stay my tears.—He’s dead.

Birtha.

Suppress that thought.

Rumour, thou know’st, is swift to tell mischance.

A braver band ne’er grac’d a Monarch’s train

Than that thine Edmund leads—all veteran troops,

Or the fair flower of young Nobility.

Elgiva.

His value justifies my fears. Ah! Friend,

The Dane is Fortune’s fav’rite; Edmund worn

By long adversity—Heavens! should he perish,

Is there no poor Asylum to receive

His wretched Widow and his infant Son,

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Where, undisturb’d by Denmark, grief may waste

This hated life? No, Birtha, there is none.

The Father’s enemies, with rancorous hate,

Pursue the orphan babe,—he too must perish.

Heard you a noise?

Birtha.

Methinks the gates unclose

Again.—A trumpet.

Elgiva.

From the King—alas!

My knees relax,—thy hand.

Birtha.

A Warrior arm’d

Hath pass’d the outworks, and the soldiers hail him

With martial honours.

Elgiva.

We will meet him too.

Spirit of comfort sit upon his lips,

Give him to speak of Virtue’s well earn’d palms;

And Britain’s peace bought by her Monarch’s sword.

Exit.

Scene III.

Before the Castle. Enter Kenelm, meeting an Officer.

Kenelm.

How fares our royal Mistress Elgiva?

Officer.

Oh! if thou bring’st intelligence of Edmund,

Thou art thrice welcome. Since he went to battle,

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Soft sleep forsakes her eye, and ev’ry charm

Flies from her fading face. Are we victorious?

Kenelm.

Look round the Castle: ’Tis brave Edmund’s all.

Our cause is desp’rate. Now no feeble ray

Of glimmering hope, unless the Mercian Cefrid

Should bring his vassals instantly to stop

The Victor’s march. But age unnerves his frame,

Will he resume his long neglected arms

To wage unequal war? or wake the fury

Of such a foe as Denmark?

Officer.

Gracious Heaven,

Pity our wretched nation!

Kenelm.

Doubly man

The outworks. Careful watch, lest rude sedition

Should enter here. Treason will now grow common,

And practise villanies our Ancestors

Would blush to think. Oh! Friend, I bring such tidings!

But speedily conduct me to the Queen.

Officer.

Behold with eager wildness she appears.

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Scene IV.

Enter Elgiva and Birtha.

Elgiva.

How fares the King?

Kenelm.

He lives.

Elgiva.

He lives! ’Tis well.

But yet thy pallid cheek, thy down-cast eye,

Reveal a truth as terrible as Death.

Lives he a prisoner?

Kenelm.

No.

Elgiva.

Why tremble still?

I fear thou’lt tell of Fame and Empire lost,

Blaz’ning the disadventurous chance of war.

But blest for ever be the Hand divine,

That from the rage of battle sav’d my Lord.

Birtha.

Where was the combat?

Kenelm.

On the Coast of Essex

The rivals met. Stern War from youth I’ve known—

Never till then her gloomiest terrors saw.

For Freedom, Britain toil’d; for Rapine, Denmark

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Most fiercely fought, like wolves by hunger urg’d

To climb the fold. Their King in sable arms

The squadrons led. Britain, ’neath Edmund’s care

Defied his rage. Edmund, e’er great in war,

With steady courage shining in his eye,

Agile and strong, wielded the battle-axe,

Broke the close ranks, and thinn’d the affrighted foe.

Elgiva.

Oh! he was ever thus.

Kenelm.

Success appear’d

To join our cause, when Edrick――

Birtha.

Was he slain?

Just in the heat of battle did his death

Force hov’ring victory to join the Dane?

O gallant Hero!

Kenelm.

Shame be on his brow,

Reproach and Infamy attend his name

To ev’ry age! The Prince was false.

Birtha.

Was false?

Kenelm.

Was false to Edmund.

Elgiva.

To Edmund? to the Brother of his soul,

Endear’d by Friendship, Kindred, Gratitude?

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It cannot be! Edrick desert his Brother――

His godlike Brother—and cou’d Heaven permit it?

Hush’d be each impious thought; I am resign’d.

Just, tho’ inscrutable, are all thy ways!

Birtha, thou weep’st. Oh! if he be a traytor,

His perfidy and thy unsullied truth

Must ne’er unite.

Birtha.

No! I will greatly scorn him,

Detest, despise the wretch! Proceed Lord Kenelm.

Kenelm.

Soon as the King th’ appointed signal gave

To chase the Dane, his troops, as if inspired

With one infernal soul, against their Brethren

Turn’d their perfidious swords. Description fails

To tell our horrors: for the flying foe

Perceiv’d the tumult, stopp’d and hem’d us round

With certain death. Then what a scene ensued!

Our noblest bled, the old with bruised arms

From former battles ’scap’d—youth just beginning

To wield the sword, heaps pil’d on heaps they lay.

Oh! my poor suffering Friends.

Elgiva.

How bore my Lord

The shocking sight?

Kenelm.

Ah! Lady, had you seen him.

The big sharp tear rolled rapid from his eye

O’er his pale hollow cheek. His martial air

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Was lost. His nerveless hand dropp’d from its grasp

The useless weapon. Deep, loud, ceaseless groans

Burst from his lab’ring breast.

Elgiva.

Why was I distant!

I would have clasp’d him in my faithful arms,

And sooth’d his deep despair.

Kenelm.

Perfidious Edrick,

To close his crimes, perceiving ’mongst the slain

A form like Edmund’s, sever’d from the corse

The gory head, which lifting on a spear

He cry’d aloud—“Britons, behold your King!”

Then sunk each heart—to fly they feebly strove—

Few ’scap’d. The injur’d King with tears I woo’d

To save his life. He cried, the World was base,

And he would leave it; ’till I nam’d his Queen――

Thereat his slow unwilling step he turn’d.

His faithful guard with lifted bucklers screen’d

Their sacred charge, and thro’ th’ assaulting foe

Hew’d with their swords a way. Oft turn’d the King,

Scorning retreat. As oft I grasp’d his arm

And begg’d him for his Queen and Country’s sake

To deign to live.

Birtha.

Where stays he now?

Kenelm.

That night

He sent me to collect some scatter’d troops.

That done, to meet him here.

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Elgiva.

Shall I behold him?

O join my friends! let us intreat the King

To leave the Realm to Denmark, and preserve

In some secure retreat a life so sacred.

Kenelm.

Alas! my Queen; a spirit, great as Edmund’s,

Will rather meet undaunted the fierce shock

Of fell Adversity, than shun her fury.――

What means that shout?

Elgiva.

Again the trumpet sounds.

Oh! transport, Birtha, see my Lord appears.

Birtha.

I must avoid him. Edrick thou hast sham’d me;

Forc’d me to wear a blush in Virtue’s sight.

Let me retire and weep in solitude.

Exit Birtha.

Scene V.

Enter Edmund.

Elgiva.

Thou, whom my soul for many tedious days

Hath sadly mourn’d—my life, my Edmund, welcome!

Oh! be not sad; forget thy wrongs awhile,

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And to the Father and the Husband give

The present hour.

Edmund.

Can I forget my wrongs?

My only treasure! since we met, this heart

Hath been bereav’d of all its dearest hopes.

Edrick perfidious.—Sure this world’s a stage

For treach’ry to beguile in Friendship’s form;

And foul Ingratitude to wound unpunish’d.

The hopeful mother, when she hears my wrongs,

Will view her foster’d infant with suspicion,

Lest it should prove her bane.

Elgiva.

A faithless Brother!

A haughty Conqueror! A ruin’d Country!

Are subjects worthy of a Hero’s tears.

Give me thy sorrows, Edmund, let me bear them.

Edmund.

Thou bear them, sweet one! they would weigh thee down

Misery hath mark’d me for her eldest born,

And given me all her hoard of wretchedness.

Elgiva.

Oft has my Lord confess’d the lab’ring swain

More blest than he. Choose thou his humble lot.

Lo! Cambria’s neighbouring hills, which rapine ne’er

Sought to invade, will shield thee from thy foes.

Her King though rude of speech, with honest joy,

Will meet thy worth, and in thy quarrel arm.

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There (should success again desert thy sword)

May we not shelter: there securely dwell

With healthful exercise and calm delight.

Time’s lenient hand shall soften all thy cares,

Nor e’en the mem’ry of thy ravish’d Crown

Awake regret.

Edmund.

O that I ne’er had worn it!

Then, the rude business of the battle o’er,

I might have liv’d.

Elgiva.

Art thou resolv’d to die?

Edmund.

A Monarch lives but in his country’s glory.

What means the envi’d title—Royalty?

Is it to smile, when Fortune smiles? to lead

A band of sycophants array’d in purple?

Is it to feast with luxury? to riot

In courtly pleasures?—Call’st thou this a King?

When with exulting Majesty he moves,

And bends his arched brows in fancy’d greatness.

These perilous times demand severe exertions.

The thought of law-givers—the fire of heroes—

The statesman’s care—the soldier’s toil, must all

Center in me; and as I guard my birthright,

Chill Death alone shall pluck it from my grasp.

Elgiva.

Is this thy purpose? wherefore then escape

The rage of war? Why just relieve my soul

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From all its fears, with golden rays of hope?

Then leave me to despair.

Edmund.

Oh! plead no more.

E’er long the Dane, crimson’d with British slaughter,

Will seek this Castle—now my little all.

But here my arm shall guard thee; my heart’s blood

Buy thee a respite from the victor’s power.

True to the last for Elgiva I’ll die.

Elgiva.

Wilt thou? Oh! torture.

Edmund.

Kenelm, trusty friend,

Marshal the soldiers, least the wily foe

Surprize us unprepar’d. Weep not, my love――

But let us fill this transient pause of fate

With generous deeds and fortitude of soul.

So shall the Victor Dane with blushes own,

Success is not the sure reward of Virtue.

Exeunt.

End of Act I.

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Act II.

Scene I.

—A Field. Enter Edrick and Allwyn.

Edrick.

Allwyn, the Danish trumpet thrice hath sounded,

And the tired army halts. The King intends

Here to encamp. Be thine th’ intrusted care

T’ intrench the British forces on the left,

At ample distance. When the weary Danes

Repair with sleep the waste of labour, then,

Close by the covert of that shadowy wood,

Conduct thy troops to the extremest bound

Of yonder castle. There await my orders.

Allwyn.

Mean you, with these, t’achieve the final ruin

Of your unhappy brother?

Edrick.

No! my views

Lie deeper far. Thou know’st the prize that fires me:

Thy regal honours, England! These to gain,

I hazard future bliss and present comfort.

Had Edmund driven out Denmark, e’er he died,

His infant Son had reign’d: This I prevented.

Now (having gain’d his pardon first by tears)

My power must be employ’d t’o’erthrow Canutus.

Meantime some happy stratagem may reach

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The life of Edmund. Then must Britain, girt

With war, reject an Infant’s feeble rule,

And crave a martial Lord: And who than Edrick

More fit to wield the sceptre and the sword?

The Danes approach. We must not seem consulting;

Away—be wise, secret, and vigilant.

Exeunt.

Scene II.

—The Danish Army. Enter Harold, Turkill, and Lords.

Harold.

Erect the royal Standard on the slope

Of this declining hill. See, Friends, yon Castle!

Doth it not proudly seem to threat our force?

There, certain spies inform us, the fall’n Edmund

Hath fled for safety. May we not expect

To morrow’s sun will terminate our toil,

And crown our great Canutus, King of England?

First Lord.

Edmund was once most terrible in arms;

But, like th’ autumnal meteor, now he lies

Shorn of his lucid glories—whilst Canutus,

Bright as the noon-day sun, claims from the world

Respectful admiration. Kingdoms, States,

(That never heard of Edmund) shall intreat

His powerful friendship. Thou, Lord Turkill, oft

Enjoy’st his social converse: Tell us, how

He bore the prosperous turn of fate at Ashdown.

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Turkill.

With tears he met it: nor has since appear’d

To taste repose or joy. Oft will he curse

Perfidious Edrick, and bids Heaven reward him

With vain remorse and constant discontent.

Then will he pity Edmund, and confess

He envies his exalted excellence;

Owns that his Rival’s worth hath still compell’d him

To hard achievements, least the world should think

His fame eclips’d by his competitor.

Oft he appears enrapt in pensive thought:

Then will he start and cry,—Can I enjoy

The profit, yet escape the shame of Treason?

Impossible! Then will his bosom heave

As if to bursting.

Harold.

’Tis too nicely argued.

Let Infamy sit dark on Edrick’s brow;

Renown encircles his, and shall for ever.

Who is this Edmund? This all famous King?

Is he not Son to perjur’d Ethelred;

Who, scorning pity, Heaven, repeated vows,

Bath’d in the blood of Danes his ruthless hands?

Oh! what a hateful deed: I saw it all.

The conduits flow’d with blood: the dusky air

Was fill’d with notes of woe, the horrid shrieks

Of those in torture—sympathizing groans

Of sad survivors: Burning piles display’d

A gloomy light, to shew the heaps of slain

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That strew’d the earth, to rav’ning wolves consign’d.

The tale still draws my tears.

Turkill.

Just is thy grief.

’Twas an infernal deed! Our noblest Danes

Relying on the League, then just confirm’d

By either King, peaceful in Britain staid:

But e’er our vessels reach’d their native shore,

The faithless Monarch to destruction doom’d

The unoffending sojourners.

Harold.

Oh! Turkill,

It mocks description, to relate what deaths

The wretch contriv’d! As if he ne’er had heard

Of mild Compassion’s heavenly tenderness.

To die with ease was mercy, and ’twas all

Gunilda’s worth procur’d. I saw her suffer.

Bravely magnanimous she climb’d the scaffold,

Then crimson’d with her sons and husband’s blood,

Tho’ given as hostages of Denmark’s faith,

Sustain’d by Fortitude divine, she died.

These were her latest words: “Inhuman Murderer!

Tho’ now thou triumph’st, tremble when my Brother

Makes inquisition for my blood.”

First Lord.

She spake

Prophetical.

Harold.

Meagre, afflicting Famine,

And livid Pestilence, most fiercely drew

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Death’s ebon car! Strange sights were seen in Heaven:

Armies in thick array, with ported spears—

Awful presage! Pale, spectres, shrieking loud,

Slid thro’ the midnight gloom! The sand was mark’d

With drops of blood. Earthquakes, portentous comets,

Predicted times of wond’rous misery.

Turkill.

Our King, the furious Swayne, vindictive came.

Then, for each murder’d Dane, ten Britons bled,

England still feels his wrath. Neglected orphans—

Thin-peopled cities—ruin’d villages—

Decaying palaces—uncultur’d fields,

Mark it the empire of Calamity!

Harold.

But see the King. His troubled aspect shews

A mind at variance with itself. Let’s meet him

With shouts of gratulation.

Scene III.

Enter Canutus.

All[Speaker label not present in original source]

Hail! Canutus,

Noblest of Men, of Monarchs, hail!

Canutus.

I thank you.

O that my future deeds may justify

This sounding acclamation! Do thou, Harold,

Encamp thy horse upon yon hill. Our foe

Expects assistance from the Earl of Mercia;

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Watch thou and intercept it. Go, brave Oswald,

Restrain the fury of the foragers.

Exit Harold.

Command them on their peril not to snatch,

Without due recompence, the little store

Of frugal Industry. I would to Heaven

Our moderation might remove the shame

That hangs on our success!—I am a King,

Yet but a slave to passion: my big heart

Exit Lords.

Sinks at this prospect. O’er yon grove of oaks

The Castle raises its majestic turrets.

Beauty and Virtue consecrate those groves.

There saint-like Emma gives to holy rites

Her widow’d hours. Make her your dearest charge,

Celestial Guardians!

Turkill.

Canst thou thus commend

Th’ inconstant Fair.

Canutus.

Too well thou know’st the power

Of fierce constraint o’er timid gentleness.

A threat’ning brother—painful solitude—

No soothing Friend—Absence—Imprisonment

Conspired to force consent; her heart, I trust,

Reluctant still.

Turkill.

Knew she your high descent?

Canutus.

No! I conceal’d it; for, between our States,

Inveterate hate was fix’d. Besides I wish’d

To gain possession of her dear esteem

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Without Ambition’s lure: This I effected.

More artless than the blooming shepherdess,

With blushing sweetness, she confess’d her passion.

My heart, tho’ form’d of rugged elements,

Here feels a weakness. Turkill, I ador’d her.

Bereft of her, I lost my taste of life.

Which now despising, in tumultuous war

With reckless haste I plung’d.

Turkill.

Can love, my Liege,

Awake distractions in Hero’s breast?

Canutus.

O Friend! in souls like mine, tho’ never form’d

For mean intreaty, it assumes most power.

Till I beheld her, Beauty ne’er allur’d

My steady heart; nor had it vanquish’d then,

But that the winning sweetness of her manners

Gave it a power beyond itself. Yes, Turkill,

Without her, Britain is subdued in vain.

Restless, displeas’d, from joy to joy I turn,

And find a loath’d satiety in all.

Turkill.

Assert thy love. Yon Castle holds the Queen.

At thy command, thy troops will climb the walls,

And make her keep her long neglected vows.

Canutus.

’Twere sacrilege. No, Venerable Pile!

Your sacred groves shall never be invaded.

No ruffian hand shall rase your walls. The spot,

That holds my Emma, is for ever sacred.

Force shall not seize the treasure love denies.

U3r 157

Turkill.

Dost thou resign her then?

Canutus.

No, Heav’n forefend!

Be thine the care, ere the sun climbs high noon,

To seek those turrets, and address the Queen.

Plead with endearing eloquence my cause.

Tell her, I proffer her my Heart and Crown:

Tell her I love—for, oh! she rules my fate.

Yet recollect my sovereign dignity,

Nor force my blushes by thy mean submission.

Try her my Friend. Say first,—Canutus loves,

And courts her hand: If she rejects thy suit,

Present this picture—watch her alt’ring look;

Then, when the varying colour glows and fades,

Shew her this ring, the pledge of tender vows.

Twice seven long years ago, in Normandy,

The yielding Fair bestow’d it.

Turkill.

I obey.

Exit Turkill.

Canutus.

If with false scorn, or womanish disdain,

She treats thy pray’r—(by conscious honour taught

To drive her image from my soul) in war,

Nobly I’ll shine and dare heroic acts,

’Till dying Edmund, to my grasp, resigns

The long contested Crown, as valour’s meed,

Not the light gift of undiscerning Fortune.

U3v 158

Scene IV.

Enter Harold.

Harold[Speaker label not present in original source]

Cefrid, my Lord, already has obtain’d

Admission in the Castle. So Prince Edrick

Informs me. He requests to be admitted

To pay obeisance.

Canutus.

Ha! what wants the traitor?

Down, swelling heart! I must conceal resentment.

Enter Edrick.

Edrick[Speaker label not present in original source]

Oh! thou, whose more than mortal worth constrains

All hearts to lowly rev’rence, suffer Edrick

To pay, on bended knee, his vow’d allegiance.

Canutus.

Sir, ever pleased to call the brave our friend,

We wave the ceremonious forms of homage.

Edrick.

A heart, by wonder and esteem, compell’d:

A zeal, to serve your cause, by none exceeded,—

Is all my little wealth. The brilliant lustre

Of your fair virtues drew my wond’ring eye.

The cords of brotherhood I quickly broke,

To lay me at your feet—intreat your favour;

Which granted, Nature’s dearest bond I’ll cancel,

And live or die to serve you. Seems this strange?

U4r 159

Friendship, by far, transcends the ties of blood

In truly gen’rous bosoms.

Canutus.

Much we thank you.—

Can Heav’n hear such a wretch nor launch its thunder?

Aside.

Edrick.

My steady love on ev’ry danger drives me.

In yonder tow’rs the crest-fall’n King collects

The thin remains of many a former battle:

Join’d, by the daring Mercian, he intends

To take the field; but there my covert wiles

Shall――

Canutus.

Brave and gallant soul! Tho’ sore defeated,

Fresh and undaunted, he renews the charge.

To bear prosperity is poor applause:

But to endure the gloom of such misfortunes,

Bespeaks a mind too noble for despair.

Edrick.

Since in the race of honour he hath lost,

’Twere better far Edmund should cease debate,

And to the victor yield the toil’d-for Crown.

Thus to rebel ’gainst Heaven’s awarding hand,

Displays presumption.

Canutus.

Think’st thou, Prince, to gain

My favour, by maligning Edmund’s worth?

U4v 160

Hast thou not robb’d him of his Crown and Glory?

Spare his good name, ’tis now the Hero’s all.—

Perdition catch the wretch! I loath his presence.

Aside. Exit Canutus.

Edrick.

Reproach from thee, proud Dane, whom by my crimes

I seem to serve! Beware—Revenge is mine.

Aside.

Would’st think, my Lord, this slight attempt of Edmund’s

Could wake our Master’s fear?

Harold.

All fear he scorns.

Fix’d as a laurel, whilst the light’ning glares,

He stands ’mid dangers.

Edrick.

So sincere my love,

For him I’d venture deeds: Posterity

Should scarce believe.

Harold.

Ashdown records those actions.

What canst thou more?

Edrick.

I know my Brother’s temper;

Open and free, the qualities of fools,

Which abler heads can fashion. These I’ll use:

Seek out his presence—fasten on his knees—

So weep—condemn—confess, that in his heart

X1r 161

He will replace me; then tax all my power

For Denmark’s good.

Harold.

Be that thy care, and trust

Our King for thy reward.

Edrick.

He promis’d me,

At Ashdown battle, to exalt my state

Above the noblest Dane or proudest Briton.

Harold.

Our King reveres his oath, and honours Heaven.

But say, dread Prince, why lives such enmity

’Twixt you and Edmund? Rumour speaks him noble

Of temper—sweet in carriage—affable—

In fine,—a man that ev’ry grace adorns.

Edrick.

He, that believes report, is trick’d by Falsehood.

Some she extols as if the sons of Light.

Some she defames. ’Tis whim and all caprice.

Edmund’s her idol. I her scorn. Yet Edmund,

To me, was most unjust for all my labours.

Did he requite me? Yes, he seiz’d the Earldom

Consigned me by my Sire.

Harold.

On what pretext?

Edrick.

A rude demand of Cefrid’s. True, my Father

Once gave it him, but for the boon required

X X1v 162

Some small achievements. When the Dotard pleaded

Conscience—Religion: Such reply incens’d

My powerful father. The proud Earl he banish’d,

And grac’d me with his honours. I enjoy’d them;

Till on his death my Brother climb’d the Throne,

Who sternly will’d me to resign my claims.

Harold.

Did you obey?

Edrick.

Astonished,—I intreated,

Threat’ned, protested, rag’d, and storm’d, in vain:

But since that hour, as misers hug their gold,

I’ve treasur’d my revenge. Dost thou not think

The haughty King, when Britain, by my wiles,

Was girt with death, deplored the injury?

Harold.

He mourn’d, when round in heaps his soldiers fell.

Oh! ’twas a subject for a Monarch’s tears!

E’en great Canutus stopp’d his mighty arm,

As if unwilling to increase his woe.

Edrick.

Be that my task: thy pleasures are his pains.

Commend me to our Master, and assure him

Of my unswerving faith.

Exit Edrick.

Harold.

Advent’rous youth!

Go thou and prosper. For thy hellish deeds,

With ample carnage, glut the Danish raven.

Exit.
X2r 163

Scene V.

Gloucester Castle. Enter Birtha.

Birtha[Speaker label not present in original source]

Hast thou, O Misery! torture more severe,

Than still to love, to love one lost to honour?

To dote, and yet despise; to glow with shame,

Hearing the deeds of him we idolize?

Such tortures rend my heart. Perfidious Edrick!

Why hast thou sham’d the promise of thy youth

By crimes, most horrid, most detestable?

Hypocrisy was deem’d of alien growth.

Oh! that its baleful foliage should o’ershade

The royal plant I nourish’d with such care.

Enter Emma.

Emma[Speaker label not present in original source]

Again in tears?

Birtha.

Never had wretch such cause!

Emma.

Yes, trust me, millions! Thy unhappy country

Can furnish numbers destitute and old,

Poor pensioners of icy Charity!

And shall the sorrows of an ill-plac’d passion,

Compare with griefs like theirs?

Birtha.

Oh! spare me, Madam;

Th’ unstricken heart has licence to condemn.

X2 X2v 164

Emma.

Ah! Friend, did Emma number all the pangs

Her breast has felt, and honour them with tears:

’Twould furnish converse for a summer’s day!

Tho’ the sharp sting of grief decays by time,—

This heavy calm—this slumber of the soul—

This stupid, cold, indifferent apathy,

Time ne’er can conquer. So to stormy days,

When Autumn reigns, dull misty nights succeed,

Uncheer’d with light of Moon or friendly Star.

Birtha.

Hard are the lessons of Adversity

To the weak minds of fragile womanhood.

Can’st thou, with all thy sex’s softness fraught,

Learn the hard duty?

Emma.

Birtha! have I not

Desire of fame? Abhorrence of reproach?

A mind that seeks Eternity’s applause?

A soul that pants for Immortality,

That med’cine for despair?

Enter a Servant.

Servant[Speaker label not present in original source]

Lady! from Denmark

A warlike Knight craves audience.

Emma.

Ha! of me?

Well, let him come—’tis strange what this imports.

Exit Servant.
X3r 165

Scene VI.

Turkill[Speaker label not present in original source]

Enter Turkill.

Hail Princess! happy, if thy will assents?

Canutus, Lord of many a potent realm,

Fortune’s belov’d, the paragon of Virtue,

Resigns the style, that suits a Conqueror,

To breathe the vows of heart-felt tenderness.

Charm’d, by your peerless fame, he nobly offers

His hand, his Crown.

Emma.

I thank the gen’rous Prince:

But oh! that Hand is stain’d with British blood;

That Crown is wrested from great Edmund’s brow.

And all the conquests, that attend his sword,

Are bars affix’d, by Heaven, to part us wide.

He England’s foe—I once of England, Queen.

The sea and fire, forgetting antient hate,

May sooner form a union.

Turkill.

Think one moment.

Canutus, once rejected, forms intreaty.

Your former state avails not. See yon hill,

Black with the sable garb of threat’ning war:

There Denmark’s Sons intreat the promis’d fight,

Nor can this Castle long withstand their pow’r.

Emma.

Means then your King to claim his right of conquest,

And, when his captive, force me to submission?

X3v 166

Tell the proud Prince, while noble Edmund lives,

Britain disclaims a conqueror. Say, that Emma,

Long used to adverse Fortune, scorns the frowns

And threats of arrogant Prosperity.

I was the darling once of dazzling greatness!

But soon, illusive as the dreams of morn,

She flitted hence, and left me to complain.

Ill fares the soul that loves such transient good.

Mine soars above, it mocks the sport of Fortune,

Alike uncertain in her hate and love.

Unhappy Ethelred was once a King,

Great and respected!

Turkill.

Canst thou him compare

To mighty Denmark? Fortune’s but a name,

The brave and wise must e’er ensure success,

By daring to deserve. Our great Canutus

Erects his Empire on the surest base.

Trust me, the British Crown shall bind his brow

’Till icy Death approaches.

Emma.

Plead no more.

To hearts, like mine, tir’d of life’s changeful scene,

Grandeur, if permanent, could boast no charm.

Oh! would the Dane, if Heaven awards him Empire,

But yield me to retirement and my God;

Wrong’d as I am, by his victorious arm,

For him I’ll pour forth daily orisons.

X4r 167

Turkill.

Talk of retirement, when the full blown rose

Fades on thy cheek. When misty age obscures

Thine eye’s transcendant ray: Yet, even then,

Shall Love pursue thee, lur’d by mental charms.

These shall be thine, even to life’s latest stage,

And spread a lustre round thy silver hairs.

Emma.

And dost thou think the breath of empty praise

Can shake the even tenour of my soul?

Give o’er persuasion, Dane. Pains, Prison, Death,

I’d sooner meet, and cheerfully endure,

Than join my hand to one my heart abhors.

Turkill,

presenting Canutus’s picture.

Yet one more suit. Canutus tenders this,

His picture, Lady. Oh! reject it not.

Such is the Lover that you treat with scorn.

Emma.

Mysterious Providence! Is this your King?

Turkill.

His semblance, Madam. Art essay’d its best,

Yet was it poor. The eye’s superior lustre—

The emanation of a noble soul—

The look of truth—the air of dignity,

The Painter drew not. It excell’d his power.

This ring he also gives.

Birtha.

Pale is her cheek,—

She weeps and trembles! What may this portend?

X4v 168

Emma.

The same!—Retire a moment.

Exit Turkill.

Oh! my Birtha,

Can Man presume to search events unborn?

The stranger Knight, who won my youthful love,

The gallant Chief, ador’d in Normandy,

Is Denmark’s Victor King.

Birtha.

Delightful tidings!

Emma.

Yes, I remember the alluring form.

Time has matured each beauty. Graceful thus

His raven locks hung waving. So he smiled,

When, in the tournament, his rival fell,

And loud applause proclaim’d him Conqueror.

Could I expect I should again behold him?

He lives—He loves—Now Emma! thou art happy.

Birtha.

Be’t mine with blended joy, as friend and subject,

To grasp thy knees, and hail thee, royal Lady,

Once more the Queen of England!

Emma.

Ha! That title!

My fancy, which by love enchanted stray’d

To crown herself with roses, back recoils,

Shock’d at thy image, Ethelred! ’Tis true,

I was thy wife.

Y1r 169

Birtha.

Fly to thy faithful lover.

Why thus irresolute?

Emma.

The Dane’s success

Clouded with misery thy declining years.

Unhappy Prince! Emma respects thy ashes;

And, to the guidance of thy martial son,

Submits her future conduct.

Birtha.

Ha! to Edmund?

He hates the brave Canutus.

Emma.

Are the bars

Between us broken? hence delusive love.

Emma, resume thyself, and act the part

Of steady Honour. Call the Messenger.

Exit Birtha.

Exalted Saints! bless’d Monitors! who fix

The great resolve and chase the mists of passion,

Assist a wretched mortal, who aspires

To gain the noblest conquest—Self-possession.

Y Y1v 170

Scene VII.

Enter Turkill and Birtha.

Emma.

Bear this, my answer, to your gen’rous Lord.

Crowns may have charms for some, but he that sues

For Emma’s true esteem, must offer more.

Turkill.

Impossible! the world affords no joy,

Surpassing Empire, Pomp, and happy Love.

Emma.

Thou talk’st like one, whose views Creation bounds;

Know, these, when Honor bids, I greatly scorn.

Thou say’st, Canutus wishes much to name Me

For ever his.

Turkill.

Beyond all else but Heaven.

Emma.

I take thy word. Ambition’s fleeting joys,

And all the guilty boast of conqu’ring power,

He will resign, with Britain’s Crown, to Edmund:

Nay, start not, Dane. On this condition only

Can I be his.

Turkill.

Resign the British Crown!

For which the North, for many a tedious year,

Y2r 171

Has sent her sons to bleed on distant coasts,

Unwept, unhonour’d, giv’n to birds of prey?

It must not Lady; no, it cannot be.

Emma,

kneels

Hear then my awful oath, Angelic Powers!

By all your mystic glories, thus I swear――

Never to plight my Faith, with great Canutus,

Till Edmund leads me to the sacred Altar,

And there avers him, his and England’s friend.

Turkill.

Tremendous vow! Death only breaks the bond,

Recall it, Princess, e’er th’ attesting Angel

Grave it on heav’nly records.

Emma,

rising

May the stings,

That perjur’d bosoms feel, envenom mine,

If e’er I break it! Now thou know’st my answer.

Perhaps his fond remembrance still is dear:

But it avails not.

Turkill.

That forbidding eye

Prevents my further prayers. Great Queen farewell.

Exit Turkill.

Emma,

after a pause

At length the conflicts o’er.—Now sooth me, Conscience,

With sweet applause. Come, Friendship, pour thy balm

On this torn heart: I’ve given him up for ever.

Y2 Y2v 172

Yet, great Canutus, must thou own my conduct

Has not disgrac’d thy love. What, hast thou kept

The picture?

Birtha.

Shall I bear it to the Dane?

Emma.

No! Let me gaze. Honor forbids not this.

Lord of my heart, thou shalt be treasur’d here:

Nought, but the chilling grasp of Death, shall tear

Away thy fond remembrance. Soon, too soon,

The battle must begin. Then will Canutus,

Griev’d at my scorn, expose his sacred life

To certain danger. Should he fall, I charge thee,

(For my heart tells, I shall not long survive him)

Inter us in one grave. Oh! lead me hence,

Where I may weep unnotic’d by the World.

Exeunt.

End of Act II.

Y3r 173

Act III.

Scene I.

Gloucester Castle. Enter Cefrid and Kenelm.

Kenelm.

Cefrid, the soldier’s vestment well becomes

Thy aged limbs. Such zealous loyalty,

Confers new honors on thy silver hairs,

Restores thy youth, and makes thy person sacred.

Cefrid.

Oh! name them not. My deeds are all too poor

To pay my debts of gratitude. ’Twas Edmund

Who call’d me, when an exil’d wanderer, home,

And gave me back my former dignity.

’Twas hard, my gallant Friend, indeed ’twas hard,

When age required repose, then to be banish’d:

My persecutor, he, whose wars I fought,

Unthankful Ethelred.

Kenelm.

Had he rever’d

His kingly oath, the Danes, our tyrants now,

Had trembled at our name. But all is lost.

At Ashdown, never—never to return,

The British glory fled.

Cefrid.

Dost thou despair?

When the great Edmund yet survives to lead

Y3v 174

With vig’rous charge, and animate our souls?

Does he not burn, impatient to erase

The record of his flight?

Kenelm.

The guilt of Edrick

Dejects the wonted ardor of his spirit,

And grieves him far beyond the loss of empire.

Oft bursts the loud complaint: But when inform’d

Of thy arrival, on his face appear’d

A transient smile. Then suddenly he started,

Sigh’d, and exclaim’d,—“Edrick, the Mercian’s faith

Stamps tenfold guilt on thee.”

Cefrid.

Behold, he comes.

Scene II.

Edmund[Speaker label not present in original source]

Enter Edmund.

Yon wood will screen an ambush, Kenelm. Haste,

Instant let Sigbert, with an hundred soldiers,

Secure that post, and when the battle joins,

Fall on the Danish rear.—I think he’s honest.

Exit Kenelm.

O Cefrid, wherefore, diff’rent from the World,

Serv’st thou the Son of beggar’d Misery?

These small domains are now thy master’s all.

Cefrid.

I ask no gift, I barely do my duty.

Y4r 175

Edmund.

The Man that does it, should be made a King;

Nor would the earth have many. Oh! my Friend,

I’ve long’d for battle, as the blind for sight:

Nor, till the Dane retreated, dropt my arm.

Behold me now, insensible of fame,

Careless of what befalls, dispirited.

Canst thou divine, whence springs the fatal change?

Cefrid.

Much injur’d goodness!

Edmund.

Most unworthy Brother!

Thou hast undone me. Death must needs be sweet,

Fraud lurks not in the grave.

Cefrid.

Courage, great Prince!

This day must bring us Death or Victory.

Edmund.

Life’s but a sultry day. Intrepid heart!

Faint not, with toil, beneath the scorching sun.

Soon will the welcome shades of evening rise,

And bring thy wish’d repose.

Cefrid.

South, from these tow’rs,

Stand the proud foes. Arm thy vindictive soul

T’ avenge thy subjects, and confound their pride.

Officer[Speaker label not present in original source]

Enter an Officer.

My Lord, the treach’rous Edrick claims admittance.

Y4v 176

Edmund.

Edrick? he brings some message from Canutus:

Let him approach. Be calm, be calm, my heart!

Scene III.

Enter Edrick.

Edmund.

What hath thy Lord, the Dane, to ask of Edmund?

Edrick.

Hast thou forgot me?

Edmund.

Thou wert once my brother,

But thou art now my foe.

Edrick.

How just thy taunts!

Give vent to thy upbraidings. Curse me, Edmund;

I have deserv’d it all.

Edmund.

I’ll not reproach thee.

Language can never paint my wrongs.

Edrick.

I own it.

The vile offender owns it. Mercy! Mercy!

Edmund.

Off, Hypocrite! What, would’st thou have my life?

Z1r 177

Mean’st thou to bind and sell me to the Dane?

Mercy disclaims a wretch like thee.

Edrick.

Yet Heaven

Is won by deep repentance, and――

Edmund.

Repentance?

It claims no power o’er such obdurate hearts.

He, that could cause and see his country’s ruin,

Can never feel contrition.

Edrick.

Tort’ring guilt!

Edmund.

Hast thou forgot thy Father? Sure the thought

Of what he suffer’d, from these rude invaders,

Might nerve thy soul to vengeance. Thou didst see him

Sink ’neath a weight of unexampled sorrows.

A royal, aged vagabond. Go, Edrick,

Join with his foes. Go, trample on his ashes,

And be a monster.

Edrick.

That I’ve ruin’d thee,

Distracts me most.

Edmund.

Would Heaven, that crime were all!

So might the shameful record be expung’d,

And our divided hearts unite again.

Z Z1v 178

But thou hast ruin’d Britain,—spoil’d her hopes;

E’en in the happy hour of Victory,

Giv’n her to sharp Oppression and the Dane.

How many nobles ask from thee their sons!

Think how they died, slain in the morn of life.

Think of their early virtues,—and despair.

Edrick.

Since nought but Death can expiate my crimes,

Oh! Edmund, once the most humane of men,

Curse not thy Brother, and he dies before thee!

Grief cannot palliate treachery like mine.

And yet to tell my agony of soul,

My trembling tongue denies.

Edmund.

Unhappy man!

Edrick.

Dost thou then pity me? Oh! generous Edmund!

Thy pity here is sweet. Where shall I look?

If on the past, what see I but thy love

And my misdeeds? If on the present, what

But hooting Scorn and cloudy Infamy?

If on the future, ha! ’tis death to think,

Uncancell’d guilt and Heaven’s impetuous wrath.

No Friend!—No pleading Angel!—Nature sinks.

My brain turns round! Can I bear this and live?

Thou who hast kept thy honest faith secure,

Preserve it still, nor be undone like me.

Z2r 179

Cefrid.

The King relents. By heaven, a tear of pity

Stands in his eye.

Edmund.

Cefrid, he wrings my soul!

Edrick.

My soldiers, from the Danish camp detach’d,

Now march with willing ardor to rejoin thee.

Receive,—forgive them. To thy Brother’s baseness

Impute their fault, and let his vital blood

Atone for all.

Attempting to kill himself.

Edmund.

Live—keep thy blood for Britain.

Live to erase the mem’ry of thy fall.

Rush not on Death, thus, with uncleansed heart.

He prays: O Mercy, hear!

Edrick.

Dost thou not hate me?

Edmund.

Wilt thou by future deeds deserve my love?

Edrick.

I do not merit trust; yet will I be

The man, thy soul delights in, suffering patient

The leader’s cares, the sun-burnt soldier’s labours.

Edmund.

Yet, e’er I join thee to my panting breast,

Z2 Z2v 180

Declare, whence springs this change. Is it revenge

For some rude insult suffer’d from the Dane?

Or comes thy agony from true contrition?

Me, Edrick, thou again may’st wrong, but Heaven

Beholds thy deeds. Wake not its utmost wrath

By daring on reiterated crimes.

Edrick.

I do deserve distrust. Oh! that my breast

Were now disclos’d to thy discerning eye,

So should I find an access to thy heart.

Edmund.

Too well thou know’st the way to Edmund’s heart,

Nor can I marvel, since ’twas ever thine.

Think then how bitterly thy falsehood pain’d me.

Of this, no more: by thy misdeeds forgot;

Or but remember’d, as a maniac’s raving,

To be a theme for constant gratitude,

When sense long absent, wish’d-for guest returns,

But let thy Edmund take thee in his arms.

I have forgiv’n thee: Rise—intreat no more.

Edrick.

This is unhoped for goodness.

Edmund.

Rev’rend Cefrid!

You, who with me, have wept my Brother’s loss,

Partake the transport his return bestows.

Cefrid.

Him, that resolves to tread the paths of honor,

Cefrid will hold most dear.

Z3r 181

Edrick.

Spoke like a Briton!

Oh! that I ne’er had lost that glorious name.

Would the contested Earldom, that inflam’d me

With rage and envy, had been sunk in earth!

Yet when I waken’d from the hellish dream,

The tygress, howling for her ravish’d young,

Was far less furious. For my peace, my honour,

The pride of virtue, and the boast of birth,

Were lost—for ever lost.

Edmund.

Say not for ever.

Cancel thy falsehood, by superior truth,

And I will hold thee to my heart again

With confidence and love.

Edrick.

Noblest of men!

Give but the blest occasion, and this sword,

By thee diverted from this contrite bosom,

Shall strew the field with Danish carcases.

Edmund.

Thy merit shall be prov’d. Scorning defeat,

Again this day my Britons shine in arms.

Determin’d race! to the last pause of life,

Safely they guard their liberties and laws.

Again, my Friend, my dauntless courage glows:

Edrick is mine. Now, Denmark, I defy thee.

His kindred arm shall guard his Brother’s side.

Go first, and to the Minister of Heaven

Confess thy fault, and kneel for benediction.

Z3v 182

Edrick.

Bless’d, in thy love, my heart o’erflows with joy.

Since Edmund pardons, what can Edrick fear?

Exit Edrick.

Edmund.

Thou, gallant Cefrid, hasten to thy troops:

Inflame their courage. Tell them, Edrick’s our’s,

And Denmark reft of all, that England fear’d.

Instant I’ll lead them to the glorious combat.

Exit Cefrid. Enter Kenelm.

What means thy quick return?

Kenelm.

My Liege, the troops

Of Edrick have revolted from the Dane,

And halt within our out-works. In the Castle,

A Danish Nobleman is just arrived.

He bears a Flag of Truce, and says his business

Is with the King.

Edmund.

Comes he to claim submission?

To bid me yield this remnant of my power?

No! he shall trample first on Edmund’s corse.

Z4r 183

Scene IV.

Harold[Speaker label not present in original source]

Enter Harold.

Canutus sends to Edmund friendly greeting.

Edmund.

I thank his courtesy. What wills he now?

Harold.

Thus saith the King: Too long has surly war,

Stern foe to social ties and gentle virtues,

Enslav’d and ravag’d this once fertile land;

’Tis time, at length, to give the mourner rest.――

Edmund.

Ill fare the wretch, whose curs’d ambition caused

This dire distress! Repay him Heaven with blood!

Dane, tell thy Lord to leave hypocrisy,

Nor mourn the evils, that from him proceed.

Harold.

To the rude bands, that form the throng of war,

It nought avails, who guides the reins of power,

So he, that holds them, bear an even hand.

Thou must confess the virtues of Canutus.――

Edmund.

Designs your King to talk away my Crown?

Or thinks he, aliens feel for England’s woes,

More deep than English Kings? I mourn her sufferings:

But will not yield her to the Lordly Dane,

Whilst vigour nerves my arm. If your Canutus

So deeply mourns this waste of Christian blood,

Z4v 184

Let him stand forth: I’ll meet him breast to breast,

And fight for Life and Empire.

Harold.

Hear me, Prince:

’Tis for this awful purpose I am come.

True valour triumphs in my master’s soul;

He will not shade his palms with treachery.

“Ashdown,” he cries, shall never give me England,

But I will win her, as an hero ought,

From her brave King, before I call her mine.”

The day, the place of fight, by thee appointed,

And just conditions sworn to. He proposes

By single combat to decide the chance,

What King shall reign o’er Britain.

Edmund.

Let the time

Be now; the place, the midst of yonder plain:

Round let our adverse hosts in order stand,

And patient wait the issue. Tell your King,

I praise his worth. Say, if beneath his arm,

Lifeless, I fall, ’twill be some consolation

To think a hero will receive my Crown.

Harold.

Thy brave resolve, Canutus will applaud:

For much that Monarch honors kindred worth,

Nor will he yield the prize of hardihood

Without a contest fearful.

Edmund.

It is well.

Exit Harold.

’Tis painful musing now,—’twill soon be tumult,

Aa1r 185

And then to live a King, or die a Hero.

What if, within an hour, these active limbs,

Bath’d in the icy dews of death, shall lie

At Denmark’s feet, the soul can ne’er be vanquish’d.

Impassive it defies the mortal spear,

And soars triumphant from the well-fought field,

Bequeathing peace to England. Should the Dane

Become a tyrant,—scourge her with oppression;

But the kind grave will then close up my ear:

Nor can her agonizing groans disturb

My tranquil sleep.

Kenelm.

Why, my beloved Master!

Distrust thy soldiers, and refuse with them

To share the fame and danger?

Edmund.

Not distrust,

But admiration of their oft-tried faith,

Impels me to this peril. Let me perish,

Rather than see those loyal bosoms gor’d

Again in my behalf.

Scene V.

Enter Elgiva.

Elgiva.

Then ’tis too true;

To dangerous fight he goes—he bleeds! he dies!

Oh! Elgiva, how wilt thou bear the sight,

When he returns, by weeping soldiers borne?

Aa Aa1v 186

When the stern heart, that’s steel’d by battle, yearns?

How wilt thou rave! how tear thy braided locks,

And almost menace Heaven!

Edmund.

For pity, cease!

A nation’s fate depends on Edmund’s arm.

Send me not forth thus dull, thus woe-begone;

Or, at the first attack of martial Denmark,

The sword will fall from my enfeebled hand,

And yield him cheap success.

Elgiva.

Would Heav’n, my tears

Could keep thee from this combat! they should flow

For ever. Thus I’d plead till language fail’d.

The death-devoted villain pleads for life,

But I for more than life: I plead for thee.

The Mother craves protection for her son,—

A playful youngling, pleas’d with vernant life,

He smiles on all, nor dreams of future woes.

Shall Denmark seize his birthright, and insult

The poor unfriended boy?

Edmund.

The Dane is noble.

Could I refuse the combat, he propos’d

And be a Patriot King?

Elgiva.

Was ’t not sufficient

To share the danger with the base-born soldier?

Must thou engross it, singly meet ill-fortune,

Aa2r 187

So prodigal to spill the sacred blood,

By thee deriv’d from many a famous hero.

Edmund.

Taught, by their deeds, to know my birthright—Honour.

Shall they complain, that Edmund Ironside

Disgrac’d the virtues of his untaught sires,

Tho’ plac’d in days when emulation rous’d

The spark of generous worth.

Elgiva.

Fix’d is thy fame.

Sev’n battles, won from Denmark, shall engrave it

On ev’ry grateful breast.

Edmund.

The truly brave

Must scorn repose, whene’er occasion calls.

The death of Edmund gives his country peace:

How rapt’rous is that thought!

Elgiva.

To me how dreadful!

Edmund.

Does not the soul, that warms each peasant’s bosom,

Boast as divine an origin as mine?

Their service shall I arrogate, yet shrink

From my own duty? O my Love! be calm.

The Cottage Matron, for her slaughter’d spouse,

Or orphan child, feels sorrow sharp as thine.

Do thou assert the gen’rous pride of birth,

Aa2 Aa2v 188

Think that thy suff’rings give the nation peace,

And take a conscious dignity from woe.

Elgiva.

Go then to fight! obey the call of glory:

Tho’ pain’d affection at thy danger start,

To me thy fame is sacred. Go, farewell!

Cold, as the dire arrest of death, that word

Strikes to my heart.

Edmund.

And does not Edmund suffer!

Thou lov’liest mourner? Did I tell my sorrows;

But hence complaint: Tears must not stain my cheek.

Angelic pow’rs, who watch o’er Innocence,

Save—save, my child! and bless my Elgiva!

Exeunt sev.

Scene VI.

—Small distance from the Castle. Enter Edrick and Allwyn.

Allwyn.

My Lord, a rumour spreads throughout your troops,

That stern Canutus and your mighty Brother,

By single combat will, this day, decide

The issue of the war.

Edrick.

I know it, Allwyn;

And, trust me, Fortune now, with kindest aspect,

Looks on our hopes. Let daring Royalty

Expose its breast to danger’s furious shock,

Aa3r 189

I give them ample leave. Let them fight on,

Till each is satisfied. O that thy bosom

Glow’d with as warm a zeal for enterprize,

As mine now feels.

Allwyn.

My ever gracious Master!

Disclose to my attentive ear your wishes;

The ready execution of this arm

Attends your will.

Edrick.

I know thee, and will trust thee.

The armies deem the rivals justly match’d,

And wait, with beating hearts, the chance of war,

But I, who rate them better, can predict,

Success will follow Edmund’s agile arm,

Skillful and strong alike. Now mark me, Allwyn;

Thou hast the skill, with surest aim, to wing

The pointed dart. Amongst the troops of Denmark

Choose a fit place, and when the shouts of triumph

Salute the Conqueror, guide th’ envenom’d shaft

Even to the breast of Edmund. If he fall,

Amid the tumult drop thy bow, and herd

Amongst the Britons; and the slaughter’d bodies

Of my slain rivals, now no more my fear,

Shall be the steps to mount me to the throne.

Allwyn.

Where is the Infant Prince?

Edrick.

In sanctuary,

At Gloucester-Priory. But the young serpent

Aa3v 190

May soon be seiz’d, if all else suits my purpose.

Already, towards the plain, the Danish host

Moves like a sable cloud; and fearless Edmund

Had lac’d the cuirass on his panting breast,

When I came from the Castle.

Allwyn.

He shall come,

Falsely secure; even as the Lybian lion,

With stately step, walks to the artful snare,

Laid, by avenging shepherds, for his ruin.

Exeunt.

End of Act III.

Aa4r 191

Act IV.

Scene I.

—A Plain. Enter Harold, and Danish Lords.

First Lord.

Th’ important moment comes, when Denmark’s fate

Rests on the vigour of her Monarch’s arm.

Ye sainted Guardians, of our country, smile

Propitious now!

Second Lord.

Our King scarce brooks a rival

In regal pow’r; but in high feats of arms,

Scorns to be aught but greatly excellent.

Harold.

So may this day’s success declare! O Friends,

Should he be vanquish’d, Denmark sinks to nothing:

Forc’d from their barren homes, her numerous sons

Fix’d on this fertile isle, as a fit station,

Whereon to raise the massy pile of Empire.

This to achieve, her noblest blood hath flow’d

For many a year.

First Lord.

Must we not blame Canutus;

Who, now triumphant, yields his certain right

To the decision of uncertain Fortune?

Aa4v 192

Harold.

Long have the rival Kings incessant toil’d

To gain a nobler prize than Conquest—Fame.

The brave disdain success acquir’d by baseness.

Canutus waves the strange events of Ashdown,

And calls again on Fortune to decide.

Second Lord.

The King appears.

Scene II.

Enter Canutus and Turkill.

Canutus.

Oh! Turkill, urge no more.

Can I, as King, endure the harsh condition?

Resign my conquest?—my indignant blood

Mounts at the thought. Implore the love of Edmund?

O meanness!—never—Emma, I resign thee;

And, loathing further life, now seek to die

At least with honour.

Turkill.

Who can blame thy love,

That looks on Merit with approving eye?

So sweet her manner—so refin’d her sense—

Such native dignity of soul, adorns her,

As might well recompence an Empire lost.

Canutus.

Proceed.—How sweet this subject to a lover?

Yes; she’s perfection all: yet must I still

Bb1r 193

Refuse her,—shun her as my dangerous foe.

Emma, thy charms would dignify a cottage.

Ah! Heavens, that I might take thy harsh condition,

And knit thy fate with mine!

Turkill.

What can prevent?

Canutus.

My country,—’Tis a name, grav’d on my heart

By mighty Nature, when she gave me being,

And all its int’rests shall to me be sacred.

My honour too forbids,—that steady honour,

Which bids me now restore to Ironside,

The chance in war, which Ashdown meanly stole.

Yet so restore it, that the deadly hazard

Light on myself alone.

Turkill.

Heroic purpose!

Canutus,

coming forward.

Well met, my countrymen! my stedfast soul

Hath vanquish’d fear, why lives it in your looks?

Edmund and I no more, like jarring clouds

That mutter thunder, shall disturb your joys.

A Crown the happy victor takes, the vanquish’d

A bed of earth and marble covering.

Ye shall have peace, my Friends, whoe’er succeeds!

I wonder much that Edmund thus delays.

Harold.

Your ready zeal, my Liege, outstrips his caution:

Bb Bb1v 194

Yet, if the distant trumpeter speaks true,

He now approaches.

Canutus.

Wherefore do I tremble?

Treach’ry can not again obscure my conquest.

The dread habiliments of sable war

Have cast new lustre round my mighty rival:

He moves sublime in conscious excellence.

How light, how trifling, is the pomp of Courts,

To this irradiance of superior worth!

His hardy followers range around the plain:

He smites his breast. Oh! ’tis a gallant breast!

Why smite it, Edmund? What awakes thy woe?

Is it to see thy troops, the scanty gleaning

Of many a well-fought field?

Turkill.

Praise, from a foe,

Reflects a merit on the generous giver.

Canutus.

See, how the British Nobles crowd around!

They kneel—they grasp his hand, they wring it hard,

They bathe it with their tears. To me does Denmark

Seem thus attach’d No! I deserve it not.

Turkill.

Blame not thyself, my Liege; the souls of Britons

Are tun’d to tenderness and gratitude.

Canutus.

See, he approaches.

Bb2r 195

Scene III.

To them—Enter Edmund, Cefrid, Kenelm,
British Lords.

Edmund.

’Tis enough, my Friends,

These were the virtues of your great forefathers.

Thus did they cherish, in their constant bosoms,

The sacred flame of Truth and Loyalty.

Yet check this wild extreme.

Cefrid.

Worth great as thine

Demands such grief.

Edmund.

Affection’s fervent pause

Delights the heart that’s conscious of desert.

Yes, I have done my duty; lov’d thee, Britain,

With all a Patriot’s warmth. O righteous Heaven!

If e’er with arrogance I spurn’d the injur’d,

Or screen’d the base, or bow’d to private ends

My Crown’s due dignity,—be this the moment

For retribution! Let the hand of Denmark

Fulfil thy great decrees!

Kenelm.

No, guiltless King!

If goodness gains the victory, ’tis thine.

Bb2 Bb2v 196

Edmund.

The praise of Man is all but superficial!

To Man our actions speak, our thoughts to Heaven.

Before the eye of dread omniscience, Vice

Drops her concealing mask. Yet, sure, Deceit

Herds not with wretches, who appear to stand

On the dread brink of vast eternity!

Here Edmund stands, and swears, by all his hopes,

No unrepented guilt lies cold at heart,

To make him shudder at death’s near approach.

Canutus.

Does not each soldier seem to wish the peril,

To save his King?

Edmund.

My generous Friends, farewell!

Prince, in performance of my oath, I come.

Yet e’er I join in combat, for my country,

I claim these just conditions: If I fall,

Rule her with clemency and royal justice.

Seize not the honours of her antient Nobles

To deck thy Danish Captains, but observe

The laws of Alfred, Britain’s glorious boast.

Remember, conquest is the gift of Fortune;

But well to use that conquest, proves the Hero.

Canutus.

If ever tyranny deform my reign,

May I be infamous in ev’ry age!

Hear this, ye Host of Heav’n!—I now demand,

For my brave Danes, security from wrong,

If thou succeed’st.

Bb3r 197

Edmund.

Me too, ye Angels hear!

And favour me, as I sincerely swear

To guard them from contempt and injury.

Canutus.

The guiltless blood, spilt by thy faithless Sire,

Still unaton’d, hangs like a murky cloud

Portending ill to Britain.

Edmund.

Nam’st thou this;

When blacker crimes obscure the Danish annals?

But let our vain recriminations end,

We meet not here to talk of former woes,

But, by our blood, to terminate them all.

My soul ill brooks delay.

Canutus.

Not worse than mine.

Come—lift thy arm; away with childish parley.

Edmund.

A moment stop: the unoffending Fair

And helpless Infant, fragile innocent,

Alike, from friend and foe, demand protection.

Denmark, by her who gave thee birth, I charge thee

Kindly to treat my Son and heart-lov’d Queen.

Canutus.

They shall be sacred. Come, ye Danish Heroes,

From Thor to Swayne, my Sire, be present now:

Now string my nervous arm.

Bb3v 198

Edmund.

Immortal Power!

That guid’st the rapid car of Victory,

Thou great Disposer of terrestrial good,

To thee I trust my cause.

They fight.

Kenelm.

Amazing scene!

Turkill.

The British King retires, our’s is the conquest.

Cefrid.

Would I had licence to rebuke thy falsehood.

Presumptuous Dane! A Briton never yields.

’Twas but a skillful feint. See, how he turns

With renovated strength; he shakes his plume:

He forms a magic circle with his sword,

Nor dares your King invade it.

Kenelm.

Glorious struggle!

See how they pant and toil. Their eager souls

Seem to look out, and sparkle at their eyes.

Oh! that they both might live!

Harold.

Canutus yields.

He lifts his hand, as if intending parley.

Be kind to Denmark, Heaven!

Canutus.

A moment stay!

A supernat’ral horror overwhelms me.

Bb4r 199

Thrice have I aim’d a mortal stroke, and thrice

My arm grew nerveless—my chill soul recoil’d.

Oh! Edmund; virtue keeps thy person sacred.

Edmund.

Delay not thus. The prize of Life and Empire

Is undecided still.

Canutus.

So shall it stay.

In admiration of thy peerless worth

I cancel former hatred.

Edmund.

Would to Heaven,

We both had sprung from British Parentage!

Then, by thy virtues charm’d, I would have held thee

My dearest Friend; but ’twere unseemly now.

Canutus.

Art thou determin’d then? Still burns the fire

Of enmity? Must it be quench’d with blood?

The spacious world affords us ample room

For both to conquer.

Edmund.

But, content with Britain,

I seek not to invade another’s right.

To guard the Empire of my Ancestors,

From all assailants, is my sole ambition.

Canutus.

’Tis hard for souls like mine, that fiercely burn

To be alone the darling of renown,

Bb4v 200

To tell the world, a rival’s worth is greater.

Yet such I do, O most divine of men!

The great, the dread, Canutus owns with tears,

He’d give his glory to be lov’d like thee.

Edmund.

Art thou sincere?

Canutus.

Nay, think not I deceive,

My soul’s too proud to learn hypocrisy.

Nor think my breast so petrified, by war,

That nought of social duties touch my soul.

My strength thou hast not conquer’d, but my heart,

A far more noble victory is thine.

Edmund.

Persuasions on thy tongue. O that thy hand

Had ne’er been famous in the feats of arms!

My murder’d Britons, my unhappy Father,—

By thee unhappy made—in mournful pomp

Rise to my view, and steel my yielding bosom.

Canutus,

dropping his Sword

Be then my foe. ’Twere sacrilege in me,

To lift my arm ’gainst virtue I adore.

Has not Canutus equal cause for hatred?

Oft has thy falchion thinn’d his lov’d associates,

Yet he foregoes it all—intreats thy friendship.

His stubborn soul is humbled to entreaty,

And art thou callous still?

Edmund.

Say, wond’rous Man!

On what foundation shall we build our love?

Cc1r 201

For, like a fabrick, by some madman rais’d,

Unfounded love falls into speedy ruin.

Canutus.

Taught, by thy worth, to think ambition poor,

No more I’d claim thy Crown, did not the Danes

Here interpose and urge the waste of blood

Their fathers spilt to gain it. And can I

Resign the whole of what their valour won?

The goodly land affords sufficient space

For thee, brave Prince, and Denmark: let us share it.

The Mercian, Southern, and West-Saxon realms,

Shall be thy portion; and to me assign

The Eastern Province, and Northumbria,

Where long my ancestors have fix’d their homes.

Let war no more appear to spoil the fruits

Of toiling industry, but, in her stead,

Let Dane and Briton meet, in social trust,

And lose each trace of former enmity.

Edmund.

The realm is thine. Dost thou, indeed, propose

This free partition? Gen’rous—noble Foe!

To treat thee still with scorn, would indicate

A brutal disposition. Take my hand,

Pledge of my heart and earnest of my love.

Canutus.

Th’ unworthy many, from mean selfishness,

Derive their trivial friendships, quickly spent:

They that love praise, seek out a parasite;

Villain with villain mates, and fool with fool;

Cc Cc1v 202

Soon fix’d, soon fated. These, the brave and wise,

With pity viewing, form no strict attachment,

Till they, embrace like me, a fellow soul!

Edmund.

In mute amaze our wond’ring squadrons stand,

Musing what this portends. O great Canutus!

The generous heart disclaims all selfish bliss,

Let us to them impart our happiness,

And feel redoubled bliss, beholding their’s.

Canutus.

Britons and Danes, names once proverbial us’d

To note eternal hate, approach with joy,

Your Kings are foes no more.

They come forward.

Edmund.

Too long, my Friends,

Hath surly discord frown’d. Indulgent Heav’n

At length admits of Peace, nor must I scorn

The gentle visitant. We, as your Champions,

Toiling, have found each other’s worth the same;

Prelude to fair accord. The Western parts,

Late bow’d to alien masters, shall be mine;

The Eastern, Denmark’s. Friends, are ye content!

Or must we war?

All.

Content! Content! Peace! Peace!

Edmund.

Companions, Chiefs, in arduous battle prov’d,

Cc2r 203

Attest my words. With transport I declare

Canutus mine and Britain’s Friend.

Canutus.

Oh! Turkill,

My heart hath caught that word. Auspicious day!

Edmund, Canutus craves from thee a boon,

By far more rich than Empire.

Edmund.

What? demand it.

Canutus.

Thy lovely Step-dame, Emma: Now to tell,

How long—how well we’ve lov’d,—what strange events

Nipt, e’er their bloom, our infant joys, were vain.

Suffice to say, the dignified Enchantress

Rejects my vows, ’till authoriz’d by thee.

Edmund.

This day, propitious to the social duties,

Shall, in our Castle, see all rites perform’d――

This day, to one, her peer in excellence,

Shall Edmund give his Father’s beauteous Queen.

Bring ev’ry grace, and each connubial virtue,

And guard, ye heavenly powers, the Happy Pair!

Exeunt.
Cc2 Cc2v 204

Scene IV.

—The Castle.

Elgiva[Speaker label not present in original source]

Enter Elgiva.

I would entreat for Edmund, could I frame

My scatter’d thoughts to holy offices.

Should the Dane conquer, what remains for me

But to inter the honourable corse,

With pious rites, then close my eyes for ever?

But ah! my Child! could I abandon him

To the stern frown of callous Arrogance,

Grown mighty by his ruin!

Edrick[Speaker label not present in original source]

Enter Edrick.

Oh! my Sister!

Death has been busy on yon fatal plain.

The Dane had sworn, by Hell, to glut his hunger

With sacred blood. Treach’ry and murder follow’d,

Shall I proceed?

Elgiva.

Yes, if thy words can kill me!

Yet come not here, with thy deceitful woe,

To intercept my sanctity of grief.

Go, bid the fraudful Dane remember Ashdown

Began what he has finish’d.

Edrick.

Do not taunt

The penitent, your noble Lord forgave.

I come to offer thee my truest service,

And all my martial powers. Ne’er will I see

Thy Son bereft of Empire, by Canutus.

Cc3r 205

Intrust him to my care, and I will seat him

On his paternal Throne.

Elgiva.

Talk not of thrones――

Safety is all my humble hopes aspire to.

The royal tree, that gave it shelter, fall’n,

Can the young nursling hope to brave the storm?

Hark!—’Tis the cruel murd’rer of my Husband,

Trumpet Sounds.

Recent from slaughter,—must I meet him too?

Speak, dove-eyed Patience, to my troubled soul,

And still the tumult there.

Edrick,

aside

Ha! both alive?

What curs’d mischance? hath Allwyn then betray’d me?

I must inquire the cause.

Exit Edrick.

Scene V.

Enter Edmund and Canutus.

Edmund.

My Elgiva?

Elgiva.

The voice of Edmund!

Edmund.

Check thy anxious fears,

And give thy hand, the tender sign of Friendship,

Cc3v 206

To great Canutus, who restores thine Edmund,

Whate’er his sword hath gain’d.

Canutus.

Oh! royal Lady!

Subdu’d by excellence, transcending human,

I come to shew th’ astonish’d world, what love

I bear thy Lord.

Elgiva.

Can I support this rapture?

My Edmund! I was weeping for thy death.

Whence sprang that false report?

Edmund.

Perhaps the sight

Of the black raven, moving toward the Castle,

Alarm’d inventive fear. Doubt not, Canutus,

But noble Emma will receive, with joy,

The hand of such a lover. Kindred merit

Binds soul to soul, and makes Earth seem like Heaven.

Exeunt.

End of Act IV.

Cc4r 207

Act V.

Scene I.

Gloucester Castle.

Edrick[Speaker label not present in original source]

Enter Edrick.

Displeas’d with bounded power, sad, tho’ in Heaven,

Angels through envy sinn’d, and were accurs’d.

Am I like them?—Yon scene of joy and love

Stings me to madness. Would their cups were poison;

Their music, spells of baleful conjuration!

Now will the Dane be Edmund’s bosom-friend:

His rugged soul foils all my artifice.

My ruin then is certain. Allwyn too

Grown conscientious, piously refuses

To violate a peace, which he affirms,

Confesses the immediate hand of Heaven,

Whose pardon he implores.—Then be it so.—

This arm shall execute its own designs.

Am not I lost?—abandon’d?—reprobate?

O coward soul! why shun the ruffian’s task.

Enter Birtha.

Birtha.

See, where the fall’n unhappy Edrick stands,

To doubt his deep contrition were inhuman.

Would art adopt this solitary woe,

Here, where no eye observes him?

Edrick.

Conscience, cease:—

There is no milder course. What see I round

But danger imminent?

Cc4v 208

Birtha.

Ah! hear the voice

Of holy consolation.—Nor alone,

To the shrill night-bird and the ruthless wind,

Tell thy long tale of woe, like restless ghosts

That nightly hover o’er their mould’ring bodies.

Edrick.

Why comes this woman to disturb my thoughts?

Aside.

Out-cast, like them, of Heaven and Earth abhorr’d,

Alone I rove, for there’s no generous heart

Which, true to innocence itself, can pity

A wretch like me.

Birtha.

Ah! Edrick; is there none?

Unhappy Prince! when honours grac’d thy fortune,

The ample suite was throng’d with seeming friends.

Before misfortunes, parasites retire,

As flies the swallow ’fore the winter’s cold.

But my unshaken truth approves thee still,

And feels for all thy woes.

Edrick.

Oh! matchless softness!

Kind to the wretched, to the wicked gentle:

Not e’en thy soothing love can ease my cares.

Thee too I’ve wrong’d; stain’d thy pure cheek with shame—

Wak’d dire emotions in thy peaceful heart—

Forc’d thee to curse the hour, when first thy eyes

Betray’d the soft complacency of love.

Birtha.

’Tis true, I sorrow’d;—deeply felt thy guilt,

Dd1r 209

And wept its fatal consequence: but now

All is restor’d, and thou again thyself.

My gloomy woe is lull’d to quietude.

Such is the wond’rous force of penitence

To purify offence.

Edrick.

Curse the fond wanton.

Aside.

But how, to Edmund, can my truth be clear’d?

This peace with hated Denmark bars my arm.

Must I, with floods of tears, expunge his doubts?

Invent new oaths; call Heaven and Hell to witness,

And be at length but cautiously believ’d?

O were we still at war: Ere this, my sword,

Had thinn’d yon circle of insulting foes.

They should not hang the lip, and taunting tell

Of me and my repeated perfidies.

Birtha.

Dull solitude but fosters wretchedness.

Come let me lead thee to the chearful banquet,

Where, from the altar just return’d, the Kings

In sober mirth and temperate feasting join.

The lovely Queens, each dress’d in softest smiles,

Partake the festal scene. Oh! ’twere enough

To make Despair tread lightly, to behold

This flow of happiness! The noble Dane

Hath smooth’d his awful brow, and eyes with joy

The long-lov’d partner of his heart. Full oft

He takes thy Brother’s hand, and calls on Heaven

To make these transports last; then turns to wipe

The starting tear of agonizing rapture.

Dd Dd1v 210

Edrick.

When will the talker cease?

Aside.

Birtha.

The godlike Edmund

Seems calmly blest. British and Danish Lords,

No longer foes, in unsuspecting trust

Bend o’er the social board, and loud repeat

Old tales of strange import. The pleasure spreads

Through all the city. Youth exults to see

The prospect bright’ning, and the fair portent

Of many a happy year. Whilst feeble age,

In trem’lous broken accents, tells its joys

At seeing Britain’s peace again return’d.

Edrick.

What is this scene to me? Can I partake it?

Shall gloomy treason share the festal board

Of bridal joy? Where’er I turn my eyes,

The dire anatomy of death arrests them

With shame and horror arm’d.

Birtha.

Talk’st thou of death?

Of frantic suicide? That daring crime,

Precluding all repentance, rudely flies

To pluck th’ Almighty’s thunder from his grasp.

Think, Edrick, when the gulf is shot, no hand

Can lead thee back; no pitying Angel ope

That ever-during doors, which Hope ne’er visits.

Were it not better then to bear with life,

Even as a prisoner drags his galling chains,

Till, by his Judge, restor’d to liberty.

Dd2r 211

Edrick.

What?—Live to be despis’d?

Birtha.

Thy noble Brother

Hath seal’d thy pardon; cancell’d all his wrongs:

Haste to his friendly arms.

Edrick.

O Birtha! leave me,

Thy presence heaps new agonies.

Exit Birtha.

She’s gone.

Am I alone? ’Tis well. Thoughts, dire as mine,

Delight in secrecy. Not long ago

Her beauty pleas’d me, but Ambition’s sun

O’erpower’d the star of love.—What artful fiend

Whispers “thou hast a dagger ’neath thy vesture?”

’Tis true, I have. Would its sharp point were sheath’d

In Edmund’s heart! Would I cou’d strike unseen,

And blazon it for Denmark’s treach’rous act!

Sure, the earth trembles:—Soul-appalling forms

Pass in array before me! Edgar there,

Grasping his bleeding breast: He fell at Ashdown.

My Father too; his silver locks dishevell’d,

And groaning loud. This mighty dead expect

The soul of Edmund in their great assembly,

And he shall join them soon. Distract me not

Ye airy terrors; stubborn is my purpose.

They vanish. Ha! The King.

Dd2 Dd2v 212

Scene II.

Enter Edmund.

Edmund.

I sought thee, Edrick.

Now when each heart expands with happiness,

When the poor slave of sickness feebly wears

A transitory smile, wilt thou alone,

Thou, my Companion, Brother, dearest Friend,

Stand sadly brooding o’er forgotten ills.

Edrick,

aside

O Virtue! pow’rful is thy influence;

E’en Envy feels thy charms, I almost wish

That I could love him.

Edmund.

Wherefore doth thine eye

Thus measure me with apprehensive strangeness?

Thy varying colour speaks some strong emotion!

Art thou displeas’d, the Dane and I are bound

In union firm? Dost thou suppose this heart

Too narrow to admit another friend,

Without rejecting thee? His gen’rous treatment

Of those, whom war subjected to his power;

His fearless, open, soldier-like demeanour,

Whilst yet my foe, enforc’d my admiration:

But when he stak’d our fortunes on the chance

Of single fight, and liberally gave

The Crown I could not win,—he made my heart

His own for ever?

Dd3r 213

Edrick.

Dost thou love him then?

Edmund.

Aye, can my Brother wonder, that I do?

Edrick.

To love the Dane,—the fell invading Dane,—

Whose steps, in Britain, leave the print of blood:

To trust Canutus, him whose deeds avow,

Ambition is his law, may note a temper

Generous and open; but believe me, Sire,

Implies the want of prudence. Canst thou think

The brittle tie of treaties, or of oaths,

Hold souls like his?

Edmund.

And does not Edrick know,

No injury aggrieves the heart of man

So much as mean suspicion? Let me fall,

And artful treason triumph in my ruin,

Rather than merit want my confidence.

Edrick.

His high-wrought soul repels my vain attacks.

But one more trial. Now assist me, Fraud.

Aside.

Yet was my faith to thee but ill express’d,

Did I conceal the fearful news: Thy Friend,

Thy new-made Friend deceives thee.

Edmund.

Ha! deceives me?

Dd3v 214

Edrick.

Soon as the morning dawns, when his curst troops

Find entrance in the city, he intends

To give up thee and all that hold thee dear,

Thy Edrick first, to certain death. O Edmund!

Awake thy courage; mar the foul design:

His few attendants may be soon surpriz’d,

Just victims to our vengeance.

Edmund.

Heavens! No, Edrick.

To doom th’ unheard is infamous. I’ll go,

And boldly charge him with his vile intentions.

Edmund going.

Edrick.

You must not.—Hold—’Tis madness.

Edmund.

Should I fear?

The voice of Truth is terrible to guilt.

I shall discover all. His conscious eye,

His trembling frame, his blushes, will betray him.

But Edrick! if thy envy rais’d this slander,

Behold my face no more.

Edrick.

O Edmund! stay—

By all that’s sacred, if thou go’st, thoul’t die!

Edmund.

I am determin’d.—Loose me.――

Dd4r 215

Edrick.

Oh! permit

Thy Edrick thus to take his last farewell!

Edmund.

Is it thy last? Why hang these horrid fears

Round thy distracted soul?

Edrick.

I cannot strike.

Aside.

Edmund.

Oh! cast aside this peevish discontent.

My Brother, we shall yet have happy days,

When the possession of a peaceful Crown

Will be my least felicity.

Edrick.

The Crown?

Rage! Hell! Ambition give me courage.

Aside.

Die!

Stabs him.

What fall so soon? Edmund! O cursed steel!

Thou did’st the deed too quick. The vital blood

Pours in an ample stream. Ah! turn aside

Thy dying eyes, they are too terrible.

He groans! The torments of the damn’d have seiz’d me,

And I am doom’d for everlasting years

To listen to those groans! What shall I do?

Ask Heaven for mercy? but how lift to Heaven

My bloody hands? how bend my stubborn heart

To holy meek contrition? Can I pray?

Thou, who alone can’st mitigate despair,

Forgive!—Oh! no, th’ eternal law is rigid.

Dd4v 216

Blood will have blood, there can be no remission.

The Castle conscious shakes. Fall on this head,

Ye rocking battlements, conceal my crimes!

Infernal fiends, what would ye now with Edrick?

Your dire behests obeyed, there—there he lies!

Ah! do ye mock me now, and grin around me?

Why proffer me a dagger? What no more?

Takes up the dagger.

Ye promis’d once, a Crown should recompence.

Where would ye drive me? to the gates of Hell?

Horror! Despair!—Oh! whither shall I fly?

Exit.

Scene III.

Enter Elgiva and Emma attended.

Elgiva.

Auspicious day, be thou for ever held

Sacred in Britain! Emma—never more

Shall desolation scourge the ruin’d land,

Or discord tear my Edmund from these arms.

Emma.

But my Canutus――

Elgiva.

He is truly noble:

The Hero shines distinguish’d in each action.

Yet did’st thou mark how his attentive eye,

In silent admiration, dwelt on Edmund?

And when he gave his plighted hand in sign—

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Emma.

Good Heavens! what’s this? ’tis blood!

Elgiva.

Ah me! A corse?

’Tis Edmund!—Oh! my Life, my Love, my Lord!

Help; he will bleed to death. Speak to me, Edmund.

What murd’rous hand hath dar’d this horrid act?

See, how he pants! but manly eloquence

Is dumb for ever. Death’s faint icy dew

Hangs on his brow.—He—oh!

Faints.

Emma.

The struggle’s o’er:

The spirit issued, in that doleful groan,

From the majestic ruin. Take him, Angels:

Now he is wholly your’s; choir him to Heaven,

Nor let our loud laments disturb your rapture.

Scene IV.

Enter Canutus and Attendants.

Canutus.

In tears, my Princess? what unseemly sorrow

Presumes to violate the sacred day,

That gives thee to my faithful vows?

Emma.

Behold!

Canutus.

My friend, why art thou thus?

Ee Ee1v 218

Emma.

Bear hence the Queen;

With tender care recall her wand’ring sense.

Elgiva is borne off.

Oh! my Canutus.

Canutus.

Would to Heaven, my Crown,

And all my glories, could recall this life!

I’d think it cheaply purchas’d, noble Edmund.

No common grief shall mourn so great a loss:

Long as exalted virtue is rever’d,

So long shalt thou be wept.

Scene V.

Enter Cefrid.

Cefrid.

Where is my King?

Canutus.

There, Cefrid,—dead to all his people’s prayers.

Cefrid.

Then all my fears are true.

Canutus.

What fears?

Cefrid.

Vile Edrick;

Pale, trembling, sore confus’d,—but now attempted,

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Unseen, to pass the postern. I observ’d him,

And as we parley’d, with amazement, saw

His vesture stain’d with blood. On further search,

This dagger was discover’d.

Shewing Edrick’s dagger.

Canutus.

Drag him hither.

Exit Cefrid.

Much injur’d Edmund, if the recompence

Of all thy virtues was but early death,

What punishment shall man assign thy murd’rer,

Proportion’d to his crimes?

Scene VI.

Enter Edrick, Cefrid, Kenelm, Harold,
and Lords.

Canutus.

Hell-hound! come on.

There turn thine eyes—survey that ghastly form—

Bring all his gen’rous actions to thy view.

Think—tremble and despair.

Edrick.

I own the deed.

Canutus.

Dost thou avow it, Villain? Yon bright stars

Would hide their lucid beauty, could they hear,

And the firm-seated Earth shake on its base.

Ee2 Ee2v 220

When thou shalt visit for this sacred blood,

Avenging Heaven, demand it not of Denmark!

My hands abjure the deed,—my heart detests it;

And to atone thy wrath, I give to Justice

This Son of Darkness.

Edrick.

Can’st thou then condemn me?

Thy interest urg’d the act. No more shall Edmund

Oppose thy triumph and obscure thy fame.

Can’st thou enjoy the Crown, yet sentence me?

Canutus.

Plead this excuse to devils, damn’d as those

That steel’d thy bosom.

Edrick.

I demand thy promise.

Lord Harold, thou wer’t witness; ’twas recorded

With British blood, your Monarch vow’d to raise me

Above an equal.

Canutus.

Be that oath performed!

Thou, Harold, see my solemn will obey’d.

To death let all the mockery of scorn

And public shame be added: which achiev’d,

Affix his head, on high, above an equal――

A stay to wild ambition, and, to times

As yet remote, a terrible example.

Edrick.

Relent. Oh! must I die?—so soon?

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Canutus.

Thou must.

The pleading seraph, Charity, averts

Her blushing face, and to stern Justice yields

A villain so abhorr’d.

Edrick.

Know then, proud King,

A nobler prize than thou can’st give,—a Crown—

That Crown, my ancestors for ages wore,

Taught me, with fearless rage, to rush on guilt;

To give, at Ashdown, Britain to thy sword;

And now turn fratricide. My final purpose

The horrors of my troubled soul destroy’d.

This I avow, on thee I meant to charge

These guilty scenes, and, by their Monarch’s death,

Incite the hardy Britons to rebel.

Emma.

Perfidious, treach’rous Monster!

Canutus.

Dost thou wonder!

I start not at it: The inhuman hand,

That bore a dagger to this Hero’s heart,

Would whelm the goodly Universe in ruin.

—Lead him to death.

Edrick.

I go.—Pale, injur’d form!

Once more will I behold thee. O my Brother!

Was this the utmost envy could perform?

Honour shall guard thy sacred dust, and Fame

Produce thy glorious life for imitation.

Ee3v 222

Me, shameful death awaits, (my memory curs’d

By after ages) and the dire unknown

From which reflection starts! yet all but just.

These are thy gifts, Ambition!—Oh! Distraction!

Exeunt Edrick, Harold, Guards.

Canutus.

Ye friends of Edmund, whose expressive looks

Speak heartfelt woe, indulge your copious sorrows!

Denmark will join; Denmark, in solemn state,

With tears unfeign’d, will honour Edmund’s worth.

Meantime, be yours the care, with martial rites,

And each funereal grace which weeping Love

On slumb’ring Merit’s silent grave bestows,

To see your murder’d master’s corse interr’d.

Nor fear in me, ye generous Chiefs, to find

A tyrant Conq’ror. Sacred be the vows

I gave your King. The worthy and the brave,

Briton or Dane, alike shall claim my care.

The States of Wessex now shall be conven’d,

And fix, by their decree, their future Sovereign.

Exeunt Omnes.