i π1r

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.

ii π1v

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.

iii a1r

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

.
a iv a1v

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 v 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.

a2 vi a2v

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;
    • 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-placeviia3rii
    • 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
    • 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, Middleſexviiia3viii
    • 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
    • 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
    • ix a4r iv
    • 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
    • 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
    • x a4v v
    • 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
    • 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
001 A1r

Poems.

Ode I.

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.

002 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.

003 A2r 3

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 Cæſar tell, what conqu’rors oft atchiev’d.

004 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.

005 A3r 5

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.

006 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.

007 A4r 7

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.

008 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?

009 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.

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Ode II.

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?

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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.

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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.

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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 Cæſars war. Each ſeeks alone

To rear their periſhable throne;

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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,

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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.

039 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.

040 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.

041 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 042 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.

043 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 044 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.

045 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.

046 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.

047 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.

048 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.

049 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 050 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.

051 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 052 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.

053 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.

054 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?

055 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.

056 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.

057 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 058 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.

059 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 060 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.

061 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.

062 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.

063 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?

064 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.

065 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 066 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.

067 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 068 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.

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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.

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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.

071 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.

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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.

073 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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;

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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.

081 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 082 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.

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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

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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.

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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――

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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.

087 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.

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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.

089 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.

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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:

091 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 092 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.

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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.

094 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.

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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.

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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.

097 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.

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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.

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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 100 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.

101 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.

102 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.

103 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?

104 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.

105 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 106 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.

107 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 108 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.

109 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.

110 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.

111 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.

112 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.

113 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 114 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.

115 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 116 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.

117 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,

118 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.

119 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,

120 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.

121 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 122 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.

123 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 124 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.

125 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.

126 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.

127 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.

128 Q4v 129 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 130 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.
131 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!

132 R2v 132

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

133 R3r 133

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

134 R3v 134

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.

135 R4r 135

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.

136 R4v 136

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,

137 S1r 137

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.

S 138 S1v 138

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.

139 S2r 139

Scene II.

Enter Elgiva.

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,

S2 140 S2v 140

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,

141 S3r 141

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.

142 S3v 142

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

143 S4r 143

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?

144 S4v 144

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

145 T1r 145

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.

T 146 T1v 146

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,

147 T2r 147

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.

T2 148 T2v 148

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

149 T3r 149

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.

150 T3v 150

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

151 T4r 151

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.

152 T4v 152

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

153 U1r 153

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

U 154 U1v 154

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.

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;

155 U2r 155

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

U2 156 U2v 156

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.

157 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.

158 U3v 158

Scene IV.

Enter Harold.

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.

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?

159 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?

160 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

161 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 162 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.
163 X2r 163

Scene V.

Glouceſter Caſtle. Enter Birtha.

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.

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 164 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.

Lady! from Denmark

A warlike Knight craves audience.

Emma.

Ha! of me?

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

Exit Servant.
165 X3r 165

Scene VI.

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?

166 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.

167 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?

168 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.

169 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 170 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,

171 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 172 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.

173 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

174 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.

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.

175 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.

Enter an Officer.

My Lord, the treach’rous Edrick claims admittance.

176 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?

177 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 178 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.

179 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 180 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.

181 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.

182 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.

183 Z4r 183

Scene IV.

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,

184 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,

185 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 186 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,

187 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 188 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,

189 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

190 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.

191 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?

192 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

193 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 194 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.

195 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 196 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.

197 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.

198 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.

199 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,

200 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?

201 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 202 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,

203 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 204 Cc2v 204

Scene IV.

—The Caſtle.
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!

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.

205 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,

206 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.

207 Cc4r 207

Act V.

Scene I.

Gloucester Caſtle.
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?

208 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,

209 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 210 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.

211 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 212 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?

213 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?

214 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.――

215 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.

216 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—

217 Ee1r 217

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 218 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,

219 Ee2r 219

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 220 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?

221 Ee3r 221

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.

222 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.