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Relentless walls! whose darksome round con


Repentant sighs, and voluntary pains:

Ye rugged rocks, which holy knees have worn;
Ye grots and caverns, shagg'd with horrid thorn! 20
Shrines! where their vigils pale-ey'd virgins keep,
And pitying saints, whose statues learn to weep!
Tho' cold like you, unmov'd and silent grown,
I have not yet forgot myself to stone.

All is not Heaven's while Abelard has part;
Still rebel nature holds out half my heart;
Nor pray'rs nor fasts its stubborn pulse restrain,
Nor tears, for ages taught to flow in vain.

Soon as thy letters trembling I unclose,
That well-known name awakens all my woes.
Oh name for ever sad! for ever dear!
Still breath'd in sighs, still usher'd with a tear.
I tremble too, where'er my own I find,
Some dire misfortune follows close behind,




Ver. 24. Forgot myself to stone.] This is an expression of Milton; as is also, caverns shagg'd with horrid thorn, and the epithets pale-ey'd, twilight, low-thoughted care, and others, are first used in the smaller poems of Milton, which Pope seems to have been just reading.

Some of these circumstances, in the scenery view of the monastery, have perhaps a little impropriety, when introduced into a place so lately founded as was the Paraclete; but are so well imagined, and so highly painted, that they demand excuse.


Ver. 24.] "Forgot myself to marble." Milton.


Line after line my gushing eyes o'erflow,
Led through a sad variety of woe:

Now warm in love, now with'ring in my bloom,
Lost in a convent's solitary gloom!


There stern Religion quench'd th' unwilling flame,
There died the best of passions, Love and Fame.
Yet write, oh write me all, that I may join
Griefs to thy griefs, and echo sighs to thine.
Nor foes nor fortune take this pow'r away;
Abelard less kind than they?

And is my

Tears still are mine, and those I need not spare; 45
Love but demands what else were shed in pray'r;
No happier task these faded eyes pursue;

To read and weep is all they now can do.
Then share thy pain, allow that sad relief;
Ah, more than share it, give me all thy grief.
Heav'n first taught letters for some wretch's aid,
Some banish'd lover, or some captive maid;



Ver. 41. Yet write,] This is taken from the Latin letters that passed betwixt Eloisa and Abelard, and which had been a few years before published in London by Rawlinson, and which our poet has copied and translated in many other passages: Per ipsum Christum obsecramus, quatenus ancillulas ipsius et tuas, crebris literis de his, in quibus adhuc fluctuas, naufragiis certificare digneris, ut nos saltem quæ tibi soli remansimus, doloris vel gaudii participes habeas. Epist. Heloissæ, p. 46. From the same, also, the use of letters, ver. 51, is taken and amplified; and it is a little remarkable that this use of letters is in the fourth book of Diodorus Siculus. Warton.

Ver. 51. Heav'n first taught letters, &c.] Enlarged from the first epistle of Eloisa to Abelard. "Si imagines nobis amicorum absentium jucundæ sunt, quæ memoriam renovant, et desiderium


They live, they speak, they breathe what love in


Warm from the soul, and faithful to its fires,
The virgin's wish without her fears impart,
Excuse the blush, and pour out all the heart,
Speed the soft intercourse from soul to soul,
And waft a sigh from Indus to the Pole.


Thou know'st how guiltless first I met thy flame, When Love approach'd me under friendship's


My fancy form'd thee of angelic kind,
Some emanation of th' all-beauteous Mind.
Those smiling eyes, attemp'ring ev'ry ray,
Shone sweetly lambent with celestial day,



absentiæ falso atque inani solatio levant; quanto jucundiores sunt literæ, quæ amici absentis veras notas afferunt! Deo autem gratias, quod hoc saltem modo præsentiam tuam nobis reddere nullâ invidiâ prohiberis, nullâ difficultate præpediris; nullâ (obsecro) negligentiâ retarderis."

Ver. 63. Those smiling eyes,] Abelard was reputed the most handsome, as well as the most learned man of his time, according to the kind of learning then in vogue. An old chronicle, quoted by Andrew du Chesne, informs us, that scholars flocked to his lectures from all quarters of the Latin world; and his cotemporary, St. Bernard, relates, that he numbered many principal ecclesiastics and cardinals of the court of Rome.-Abelard himself boasts, that when he retired into the country, he was followed by such immense crowds of scholars, that they could get neither lodgings nor provisions sufficient for them: "Ut nec locus hospitiis, nec terra sufficeret alimentis." (Abelardi Opera, p. 19.) He met with the fate of many learned men, to be embroiled in controversy and accused of heresy; for St. Bernard, whose influence and authority were very great, got his opinion of the Trinity condemned, at a council held at Sens, 1140. But the talents of Abelard were


Guiltless I gaz'd; heav'n listen'd while you sung; And truths divine came mended from that tongue. From lips like those, what precept fail'd to move? Too soon they taught me 'twas no sin to love:


not confined to theology, jurisprudence, philosophy, and the thorny paths of scholasticism; he gave proofs of a lively genius by many poetical performances, insomuch that he was reputed to be the author of the famous Romance of the Rose; which, however, was indisputably written by John of Meun, a little city on the banks of the Loire, about four leagues from Orleans; which gave occasion to Marot to exclaim, De Jean de Meun s'enfle le cours de Loire. It was he who continued and finished the Romance of the Rose, which William de Loris had left imperfect forty years before. If chronology did not absolutely contradict the notion of Abelard's being the author of this very celebrated piece, yet are there internal arguments sufficient to confute it. The mistake seems to have flowed from his having given Eloisa the name of Rose, in one of the many sonnets he addressed to her. In this romance there are many severe and satirical strokes on the character of Eloisa, which the pen of Abelard never would have given. In one passage she is introduced speaking with indecency and obscenity; in another, all the vices and bad qualities of women are represented as assembled together in her alone:

Qui les mœurs féminins savoit,

Car tres-tous en soi les avoit.

In a very old Epistle-dedicatory, addressed to Philip the Fourth of France, by this same John of Meun, and prefixed to a French translation of Boetius, a very popular book at that time, it appears, that he also translated the Epistles of Abelard to Heloisa, which were in high vogue at the court. He mentions also, that he had translated Vegetius on the Art Military, and a book called the Wonders of Ireland. These works shew us the taste of the age. His words are: 66 T'envoye ores Boece de Consolation, que j'ai translaté en François, jaçoit que bien entendes le Latin."

It is to be regretted that we have no exact picture of the person and beauty of Eloisa. Abelard himself says that she was "Facie non infima," Her extraordinary learning, many circumstances con


Back, through the paths of pleasing sense I ran,
Nor wish'd an Angel whom I lov'd a Man.
Dim and remote the joys of saints I see:
Nor envy them that heav'n I lose for thee.


How oft, when press'd to marriage, have I said, Curse on all laws but those which love has made? Love, free as air, at sight of human ties,

Spreads his light wings, and in a moment flies.



cur to confirm; particularly one, which is, that the Nuns of the Paraclete are wont to have the office of Whitsunday read to them in Greek, to perpetuate the memory of her understanding that language. The curious may not be displeased to be informed, that the Paraclete was built in the parish of Quincey, upon the little river of Arduzon, near Nogent, upon the Seine. A lady, learned as was Eloisa in that age, who indisputably understood the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew tongues, was a kind of prodigy. Her literature, says Abelard, "in toto regno nominatissimam fecerat ;" and, we may be sure, more thoroughly attached him to her. Bussy Rabutin speaks in high terms of commendation of the purity of Eloisa's Latinity; a judgment worthy a French Count! There is a force, but not an elegance, in her style, which is blemished, as might be expected, by many phrases unknown to the pure ages of the Roman language, and by many Hebraisms, borrowed from the translation of the Bible. Warton.

Ver. 73. How oft,] These extraordinary sentiments are plainly from the Letters: Nihil unquam, Deus scit, in te, nisi te requisivi; te purè, non tua concupiscens. Non matrimonii fœdera, non dotes aliquas expectavi. Et si uxoris nomen sanctius videtur, dulcius mihi semper extitit amicæ vocabulum, aut, si non indigneris, concubinæ vel scorti. Pope has added an injudicious thought about Cupid; mythology is here much out of its place. Warton.


Ver. 74. "And own no laws but those which love ordains." Dryden, Cinyras and Myrrha.

Ver 75. "Love will not be confin'd by Maisterie :


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