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Oh curst, dear horrors of all-conscious night!
How glowing guilt exalts the keen delight !
Provoking demons all restraint remove,
And stir within me every source of love.
I hear thee, view thee, gaze o'er all thy charms,
And round thy phantom glue my clasping arms.
I wake :-no more I hear, no more I view,
The phantom flies me, as unkind as you.
I call aloud ; it hears not what I say:
I stretch my empty arms; it glides away.
To dream once more I close my williug eyes;
Ye soft illusions, dear deceits, arise !
Alas, no more! methinks we wandering go
Through dreary wastes, and weep each other's woe,
round some mouldering tow'r pale ivy creeps,
And low-brow'd rocks hang nodding o'er the deeps.
Sudden you mount, you beckon from the skies;
Clouds interpose, waves roar, and winds arise.
I shriek, start up, the same sad prospect find,
And wake to all the griefs I left behind.
For thee the fates, severely kind, ordain A cool suspense from pleasure and from pain; Thy life a long dead calm of fix'd repose ; : No pulse that riots, and no blood that glows. Still as the sea, ere winds were taught to blow, Or moving spirits bid the waters flow; Soft as the slumbers of a saint forgiv'n, And mild as opening gleams of promis'd heav'n.
Come, Abelard! for what hast thou to dread ? The torch of Venus burns not for the dead. Nature stands check'd; Religion disapproves; Ev'n thou art cold-yet Eloïsa loves. Ah hopeless, lasting fames ! like those that burn To light the dead, and warm the' unfruitful urn.
What scenes appear where'er I turn my view? The dear ideas, where I ny, pursue ; Rise in the grove, before the altar rise, Stain all my soul, and wanton in my eyes. I waste the matin lamp in sighs for thee, Thy image steals between my God and me;
Thy voice I seem in every hymn to hear,
With every bead I drop too soft a tear.
When from the censer clouds of fragrance roll,
And swelling organs lift the rising soul,
One thought of thee puts all the pomp to flight,
Priests, tapers, temples, swim before my sight:
In seas of flame my.plunging soul is drown'd,
While altars blaze, and angels tremble round.
While prostrate here in humble grief I lie,
Kind virtuous drops just gathering in my eye,
While praying, trembling, in the dust I roll,
And dawning grace is opening on my soul :
Come, if thou dar'st, all charming as thou art !
Oppose thyself to heav'n; dispute my heart;
Come, with one glance of those deluding eyes
Blot out each bright idea of the skies;
Take back that grace, those sorrows and those tears;
Take back my fruitless penitence and pray'rs;
Snatch me, just mounting, from the blest abode;
Assist the fiends, and tear me from my God!
No, fy me, ily me, far as pole from pole;
Rise Alps between us! and whole oceans roll!
Ah, come pot, write not, think not once of me,
Nor share one pang of all I felt for thee.
Thy oaths I quit, thy memory resign;
Forget, renounce me, hate whate'er was mine.
Fair eyes, and tempting looks (which yet I view),
Long lov'd, ador'd ideas, all adieu !
0 grace serene! O virtue heav'nly fair!
Divine oblivion of low-thoughted care!
Fresh blooming Hope, gay daughter of the sky!
And Faith, our early immortality!
Enter each mild, each amicable guest;
Receive, and wrap me in eternal rest!
See in her cell sad Eloïsa spread,
Propt on some tomb, a neighbour of the dead.
In each low wind methinks a spirit calls,
And more than echoes talk along the walls.
Here, as I watch'd the dying lamps around,
From yonder shrine I heard a hollow sound :
*Come, sister, come! (it said, or seem'd to say)
Thy place is here, sad sister, come away;
Once, like thyself, I trembled, wept, and pray'd,
Love's victim then, though now a sainted maid :
But all is calm in this eternal sleep;
Here grief forgets to groan, and love to weep;
Ev'n superstition loses every fear:
For God, not man, absolves our frailties here.'
I come, I come! prepare your roseate bowers,
Celestial palins, and ever-blooming flowers.
Thither, where sinners may have rest, I go,
Where flames refin'd in breasts seraphic glow:
Thou, Abelard! the last sad office pay,
And smoothe my passage to the realms of day :
See my lips tremble, and my eye-balls roll,
Suck my last breath, and catch my flying soul !
Ah, no-in sacred vestments may'st thou stand,
The hallow'd taper trembling in thy hand,
Present the cross before my lifted eye,
Teach me at once, and learn of me to die.
Ah then, thy once-lov'd Eloïsa see!
It will be then no crime to gaze on me;
See from my cheek the transient roses fly!
See the last sparkle languish in my eye!
Till every motion, pulse, and breath be o'er;
And ev'n my Abelard be lov'd no more.
O Death, all-eloquent! you only prove
What dust we dote on, when 'tis man we love.
Then too, when fate shall thy fair frame destroy
(That cause of all my guilt, and all my joy,)
In trance ecstatic may thy pangs be drown'd,
Bright clouds descend, and angels watch thee round;
From opening skies may streaming glories shine,
And saints embrace thee with a love like mine.
May one kind grave unite each hapless name,
And graft my love immortal on thy fame !
Then, ages hence, when all my woes are o'er,
When this rebellious heart shall beat no more ;
If ever chance two wandering lovers brings
To Paraclete's white walls and silver springs,
O'er the pale marble shall they join their heads,
And drink the falling tears each other sheds;
Then sadly say, with mutual pity mov'd,
O may we never love as these have lov'd!'.
From the full choir when loud hosannas rise,
And swell the pomp of dreadful sacrifice,
Amid that scene if some relenting eye
Glance on the stone where our cold relics lie,
Devotion's self shall steal a thought from heav'n,
One human tear shall drop, and be forgiv'n.
And sure if fate some future bard shall join
In sad similitude of griefs to mine,
Condemn'd whole years in absence to deplore,
And image charms he must behold no more;
Such if there be, who loves so long, so well,
Let him our sad, our tender story tell;
The well-sung woes will soothe my pensive ghost;
He best can paint 'em who shall feel 'em most.
PART I. Introduction. That it is as great a fault to jadge ill as to write ill, and a more dangerous one to the public. That a true taste is as rare to be found as a true genius. That most mea are born with some taste, but spoiled by false education. The multitude of critics, and causes of them. -That we are to study our own taste, and know the limits of it.-Nature the best guide of judgment.--Improved by art and rules, which are but methodized Nature.-Rules derived from the practice of the ancient poets. That therefore the ancients are necessary to be studied by a critic, particularly Homer and Virgil. Of licences, and the use of them by the ancients.-Reverence due to the ancients, and praise of them, TIS hard to say if greater want of skill
Appear in writing or in judging ill;
But of the two less dangerous is the offence
To tire our patience than inislead our sense :
Some few in that, but numbers err in this,
Ten censure wrong for one who writes amiss;
A fool might once himself alone expose,
Now one in verse makes many more in prose.
'Tis with our judgments as our watches, none
Go just alike, yet each believes his own.
In poets as true genius is but rare,
True taste as seldom is the critic's share;
Both must alike from Heav'n derive their light,
These born to judge, as well as those to write.
Let such teach others who themselves excel,
And censure freely who have written well.
Authors are partial to their wit, 'tis true,
But are not critics to their judgment too?
Yet if we look more closely, we shall find Most have the seeds of judgment in their mind : Nature affords at least a glimmering light; The lines, though touch'd but faintly, are drawn
right: But as the slightest sketch, if justly trac'd, Is by ill-colouring but the more disgrac'd, So by false learning is good sense defac'd. Some are bewilder'd in the maze of schools, And some made cox'combs Nature meant but fools: In search of wit these lose their common sense, And then turn critics in their own defence : Each burns alike, who can or cannot write, Or with a rival's or an eunuch's spite. All fools have still an itching to deride, And fain would be upon the laughing side. If Mævius scribble in Apollo's spite, There are who judge still worse than he can write.
Some have at first for wits, then poets, past; Turn'd crítics next, and prov'd plain fools at last. Some neither can for wits nor critics pass, As heavy mules are neither horse nor ass. Those half-learn'd witlings, numerous in our isle, As half-form'd insects on the banks of Nile; Unfinish'd things, one knows not what to cal}, Their generation's so equivocal;