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What can they do? they fix their mournful eyes—
Then Guilford thus, abruptly: 'I despise
An empire lost; I fling away the crown;
Numbers have laid that bright delusion down;
But where's the Charles, or Dioclesian where,
Could quit the blooming, wedded, weeping fair?
Oh! to dwell ever on thy lip! to stand
In full possession of thy snowy hand!
And, through the' unclouded crystal of thy eye,
The heavenly treasures of thy mind to spy!
Till rapture reason happily destroys,
And my soul wanders through immortal joys!
Give me the world, and ask me, 'Where's my bliss ?
I clasp thee to my breast, and answer This.
And shall the grave'-He groans, and can no more 95
But all her charms in silence traces o'er ;
Her lip, her cheek, and eye, to wonder wrought,
And wondering sees, in sad presaging thought,
From that fair neck, that world of beauty, fall,
And roll along the dust, a ghastly ball!
Oh! let those tremble who are greatly bless'd!
For who but Guilford could be thus distress'd?
Come hither, all you happy! all you great!
From flowery meadows, and from rooms of state;
Nor think I call your pleasures to destroy,
But to refine, and to exalt your joy :
Weep not; but, smiling, fix your ardent care
On nobler titles than the brave or fair.
Was ever ach a mournful, moving sight?
See, if you can, by that dim, trembling light:
Now they embrace; and, mix'd with bitter woe,
Like Isis and her Thames, one stream they flow:
Now they start wide; fix'd in benumbing care,
They stiffen into statues of despair:
Now tenderly severe and fiercely kind,
They rush at once; they fling their cares behind,
And clasp, as if to death; new vows repeat,
And quite wrapp'd up in love, forget their fate;
A short delusion; for the raging pain
Returns, and their poor hearts must bleed again. 120
Meantime, the queen new cruelty decreed;
But ill content that they should only bleed,
A priest is sent, who, with insidious art,
Instils his poison into Suffolk's heart,
And Guilford drank it: hanging on the breast,
He from his childhood was with Rome possess'd.
When now the ministers of Death draw nigh,
And in her dearest lord she first must die,
The subtle priest, who long had watch'd to find
The most unguarded passes of her mind,
Bespoke her thus: Grieve not; 'tis in your power
Your lord to rescue from this fatal hour.'
Her bosom pants; she draws her breath with pain;
A sudden horror thrills through every vein;
Life seems suspended, on his words intent,
And her soul trembles for the great event.
The priest proceeds: 'Embrace the faith of Rome,
And ward your own, your lord's, and father's doom.'
Ye blessed spirits! now your charge sustain :
The past was ease: now first she suffers pain. 140
Must she pronounce her father's death? must she
Bid Guilford bleed?--It must not, cannot be.
It cannot be but 'tis the Christian's praise,
Above impossibilities to raise
The weakness of our nature, and deride
Of vain philosophy the boasted pride.
What though our feeble sinews scarce impart
A moment's swiftness to the feather'd dart ;
Though tainted air our vigorous youth can break,
And a chill blast the hardy warrior shake?
Yet are we strong; hear the loud tempest roar
From east to west, and call us weak no more :
The lightning's unresisted force proclaims
Our might, and thunders raise our humble names
Tis our Jehovah fills the heavens; as long
As he shall reign Almighty, we are strong:
We, by devotion, borrow from his throne,
And almost make Omnipotence our own:
We force the gates of heaven by fervent prayer,
And call forth triumph out of man's despair.
Our lovely mourner, kneeling, lifts her eyes
And bleeding heart, in silence, to the skies,
Devoutly sad-then, brightening, like the day,
When sudden winds sweep scatter'd clouds away,
Shining in majesty, till now unknown,
Ard breathing life and spirit scarce her own,
She, rising, speaks; If these the terms-'
Here Guilford, cruel Guilford! (barbarous man!
Is this thy love?) as swift as lightning ran,
O'erwhelm'd her, with tempestuous sorrow fraught,
And stifled, in its birth, the mighty thought:
Then, bursting fresh into a flood of tears,
Fierce, resolute, delirious with his fears,
His fears for her alone, he beat his breast,
And thus the fervour of his soul express'd:
Oh let thy thought o'er our past converse rove,
And show one moment uninflamed with love!
Oh! if thy kindness can no longer last,
In pity to thyself forget the past!
Else wilt thou never, void of shame and fear, 180
Pronounce his doom whom thou hast held so dear.
Thou, who hast took me to thy arms, and swore
Empires were vile, and Fate could give no more;
That to continue was its utmost power,
And make the future like the present hour:
Now call a ruffian, bid his cruel sword
Lay wide the bosom of thy worthless lord:
Transfix his heart (since you its love disclaim)
And stain his honour with a traitor's name.
This might perhaps be borne without remorse,
But sure a father's pangs will have their force'
Shall his good age, so near its journey's end,
Through cruel torment to the grave descend
His shallow blood all issue at a wound,
Wash a slave's feet, and smoke upon the ground? 195
But he to you has ever been severe;
Then take your vengeance-Suffolk now drew near,
Bending beneath the burden of his care,
His robes neglected and his head was bare:
Decrepit Winter, in the yearly ring,
Thus slowly creeps to meet the blooming Spring
Downward he cast a melancholy look,
Thrice turn'd to hide his grief, then faintly spoke:
'Now deep in years, and forward in decay,
That axe can only rob me of a day :
For thee, my soul's desire! I can't refrain;
And shall my tears, my last tears, flow in vain
When you shall know a mother's tender name,
My heart's distress no longer will you blame.'
At this, afar his bursting groans were heard ;
The tears ran trickling down his silver beard:
He snatch'd her hand, which to his lips he press'd,
And bid her plant a dagger in his breast ;'
Then, sinking, call'd her piety unjust,'
And soil'd his hoary temples in the dust.
Hard-hearted men! will you no mercy know?
Has the queen bribed you to distress her foo?
O weak deserters to Misfortune's part,
By false affection thus to pierce her heart!
When she had soar'd, to let your arrows fly,
And fetch her bleeding from the middle sky.
And can her virtue, springing from the ground,
Her flight recover, and disdain the wound,
When cleaving love and human interest bind
The broken force of her aspiring mind?
As round the generous eagle, which in vain
Exerts her strength, the serpent wreaths his train,
Her struggling wings entangles, curling plies
His poisonous tail, and stings her as she flies.
While yet the blow's first dreadful weight she feels, And with its force her resolution eels,
Large doors, unfolding with a mournful sound
To view discover, weltering on the ground,
Three headless trunks of those whose arms maintain'd,
And in her wars immortal glory gain'd:
The lifted axe assured her ready doom,
And silent mourners sadden'd all the room :-
Shall I proceed, or here break off my tale,
Nor truths to stagger human faith reveal?
She met this utinost malice of her fate
With Christian dignity and pious state;
The beating storm's propitious rage she bless'd,
And all the martyr triumph'd in her breast.
Her lord and father, for a moment's space,
She strictly folded in her soft embrace!
Then thus she spoke, while angels heard on high,
And sudden gladness smiled along the sky:
'Your over-fondness has not moved my hate;
I am well pleased you make my death so great :
I joy I cannot save you, and have given
Two lives, much dearer than my own, to Heaven,
If so the queen decrees.*-But I have cause
To hope my blood will satisfy the laws;
If there is mercy still, for you, in store:
With me the bitterness of death is o'er ;
He shot his sting in that farewell embrace,
And all, that is to come, is joy and peace.
Then let mistaken sorrow be suppress'd,
Nor seem to envy my approaching rest.'
Then, turning to the ministers of Fate,
She, smiling, says, ' My victory's complete ;
And tell your queen I thank her for the blow,
And grieve my gratitude I cannot show.
A poor return I leave in England's crown,
For everlasting pleasure and renown:
Her guilt alone allays this happy hour;
Her guilt, the only vengeance in her power.'
Not Rome, untouch'd with sorrow, heard her fate.
And fierce Maria pitied her too late.
*Here she embraces them