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MEMORY OF AN UNFORTUNATE LADY.
WHAT beckoning ghost, along the moonlight
Invites my steps, and points to yonder glade?
'Tis she!-but why that bleeding bosom gor'd,
Why dimly gleams the visionary sword?
Oh ever beauteous, ever friendly! tell,
Is it, in heaven, a crime to love too well?
To bear too tender, or too firm a heart,
To act a lover's or a Roman's part?
Is there no bright reversion in the sky,
For those who greatly think, or bravely die?
Why bade ye else, ye powers! her soul aspire
Above the vulgar flight of low desire?
Ambition first sprung from your blest abodes
The glorious fault of angels and of gods:
Thence to their images on earth it flows,
And in the breasts of kings and heroes glows.
Most souls, 'tis true, but peep out once an age,
Dull sullen prisoners in the body's cage:
Dim lights of life, that burn a length of years,
Useless, unseen, as lamps in sepulchres;
Like eastern kings a lazy state they keep,
And, close confin'd to their own palace, sleep.
From these perhaps (ere nature bade her die)
Fate snatch'd her early to the pitying sky.
As into air the purer spirits flow,
And separate from their kindred dregs below;
So flew the soul to its congenial place,
Nor left one virtue to redeem her race.
But thou, false guardian of a charge too good, Thou, mean deserter of thy brother's blood!
See on these ruby lips the trembling breath,
These cheeks now fading at the blast of death;
Cold is that breast which warm'd the world before,
And those love-darting eyes must roll no more.
Thus, if eternal justice rules the ball,
Thus shall your wives, and thus your children fall:
On all the line a sudden vengeance waits,
And frequent hearses shall besiege your gates;
There passengers shall stand, and pointing say
(While the long funerals blacken all the way),
'Lo! these were they, whose souls the furies steel'd,
And curst with hearts unknowing how to yield.'
Thus unlamented pass the proud away,
The gaze of fools, and pageant of a day!
So perish all, whose breast ne'er learn'd to glow,
For others' good, or melt at others' woe.
What can atone (oh ever-injur'd shade!)
Thy fate unpity'd, and thy rites unpaid?
No friend's complaint, no kind domestic tear
Pleas'd thy pale ghost, or grac'd thy mournful bier:
By foreign hands thy dying eyes were clos'd,
By foreign hands thy decent limbs compos'd,
By foreign hands thy humble grave adorn'd,
By strangers honour'd, and by strangers mourn'd!
What though no friends in sable weeds appear,
Grieve for an hour, perhaps, then mourn a year,
And bear about the mockery of woe
To midnight dances, and the public show?
What though no weeping loves thy ashes grace,
Nor polish'd marble emulate thy face?
What though no sacred earth allow thee room,
Nor hallow'd dirge be mutter'd o'er thy tomb?
Yet shall thy grave with rising flowers be dress'd,
And the green turf lie lightly on thy breast:
There shall the morn her earliest tears bestow,
There the first roses of the year shall blow;
While angels with their silver wings o'ershade
The ground now sacred by thy reliques made.
So, peaceful rests, without a stone, a name,
What once had beauty, titles, wealth, and fame.
How lov'd, how honour'd once, avails thee not,
To whom related, or by whom begot;
A heap of dust alone remains of thee,
'Tis all thou art, and all the proud shall be!
Poets themselves must fall, like those they sung, Deaf the prais'd ear, and mute the tuneful tongue. Ev'n he, whose soul now melts in mournful lays, Shall shortly want the generous tear he pays; Then from his closing eyes thy form shall part, And the last pang shall tear thee from his heart, Life's idle business at one gasp be o'er, The muse forgot, and thou belov'd no more!
To Mr. Addison's Tragedy of Cato.
To wake the soul by tender strokes of art,
To raise the genius, and to mend the heart; To make mankind in conscious virtue bold, Live o'er each scene, and be what they behold: For this the Tragic Muse first trod the stage, Commanding tears to stream through every age; Tyrants no more their savage nature kept, And foes to virtue wonder'd how they wept. Our author shuns by vulgar springs to move The hero's glory, or the virgin's love; In pitying love, we but our weakness show, And wild ambition well deserves its woe. Here tears shall flow from a more generous cause, Such tears as patriots shed for dying laws: He bids your breasts with ancient ardour rise, And calls forth Roman drops from British eyes. Virtue confess'd in human shape he draws, What Plato thought, and godlike Cato was : No common object to your sight displays, But what with pleasure Heaven itself surveys,
A brave man struggling in the storms of fate,
And greatly falling with a falling state.
While Cato gives his little senate laws,
What bosom beats not in his country's cause?
Who sees him act, but envies every deed?
Who hears him groan, and does not wish to bleed?"
Ev'n when proud Cæsar 'midst triumphal cars,
The spoils of nations, and the pomp of wars,
Ignobly vain, and impotently great,
Show'd Rome her Cato's figure drawn in state;
As her dead father's reverend image past,
The pomp was darken'd, and the day o'ercast;
The triumph ceas'd, tears gush'd from every eye;
The world's great victor pass'd unheeded by;
Her last good man dejected Rome ador'd,
And honour'd Cæsar's less than Cato's sword.
Britons, attend: be worth like this approv'd,
And show, you have the virtue to be mov'd.
With honest scorn the first fam'd Cato view'd
Rome learning arts from Greece, whom she subdued
Your scene precariously subsists too long
On French translation, and Italian song.
Dare to have sense yourselves; assert the stage,
Be justly warm'd with your own native rage:
Such plays alone should win a British ear,
As Cato's self had not disdain'd to hear.
TO MR. ROWE'S JANE SHORE.
Designed for Mrs. Oldfield.
PRODIGIOUS this! the frail-one of our play
From her own sex should mercy find to-day! You might have held the pretty head aside, Peep'd in your fans, been serious, thus, and cried,
The play may pass--but that strange creature,
I can't-indeed now--I so hate a whore !---'
Just as a blockhead rubs his thoughtless skull,
And thanks his stars he was not born a fool;
So from a sister sinner you shall hear,
'How strangely you expose yourself, my dear!
But let me die, all raillery apart,
Our sex are still forgiving at their heart;
And, did not wicked custom so contrive,
We'd be the best, good-natur'd things alive.
There are, 'tis true, who tell another tale,
That virtuous ladies envy while they rail;
Such rage without betrays the fire within;
In some close corner of the soul, they sin;
Still hoarding up, most scandalously nice,
Amidst their virtues a reserve of vice.
The godly dame, who fleshly failings damns,
Scolds with her maid, or with her chaplain crams.
Would you enjoy soft nights, and solid dinners?
Faith, gallants, board with saints, and bed with
Well, if our author in the wife offends, He has a husband that will make amends: He draws him gentle, tender, and forgiving, And sure such kind good creatures may be living. In days of old they pardon'd breach of vows, Stern Cato's self was no relentless spouse: Plu--Plutarch, what's his name, that writes his life? Tells us, that Cato dearly lov'd his wife: Yet if a friend, a night or so, should need her, He'd recommend her as a special breeder. To lend a wife, few here would scruple make; But, pray, which of you all would take her back? Though with the stoic chief our stage may ring, The stoic husband was the glorious thing. The man had courage, was a sage, 'tis true, And lov'd his country--but what's that to you? Those strange examples ne'er were made to fit ye, But the kind cuckold might instruct the city: