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But he did well to give his best; and I,
Who wish'd a worthier urn, forgive his poverty!'
At this she curb'd a groan, that else had come,
And pausing, view'd the present in the tomb :
Then to the heart adored devoutly glew'd
Her lips, and raising it, her speech renew❜d:
'Even from my day of birth to this, the bound
Of my unhappy being, I have found
My father's care and tenderness express'd;
But this last act of love excels the rest;
For this so dear a present, bear him back
The best return that I can live to make.'
The messenger dispatch'd, again she view'd
The loved remains, and sighing, thus pursued:
'Source of my life, and lord of my desires,
In whom I lived, with whom my soul expires:
Poor heart! no more the spring of vital heat,
Cursed be the hands that tore thee from thy seat!
The course is finish'd which thy fates decreed,
And thou from thy corporeal prison freed:
Soon hast thou reach'd the goal with mended
A world of woes dispatch'd in little space:
Forced by thy worth, thy foe in death become
Thy friend, has lodged thee in a costly tomb.
There yet remain'd thy funeral exequies,
The weeping tribute of thy widow's eyes;
And those, indulgent Heaven has found the way
That I before my death have leave to pay.
My father even in cruelty is kind,
Or heaven has turn'd the malice of his mind
To better uses than his hate design'd;
And made the' insult which in his gift appears,
The means to mourn thee with my pious tears;
Which I will pay thee down before I go,
And save myself the pains to weep below,
If souls can weep; though once I meant to meet
My fate with face unmoved, and eyes unwet;
Yet since I have thee here in narrow room,
My tears shall set thee first afloat within thy tomb:
Then (as I know thy spirit hovers nigh)
Under thy friendly conduct will I fly
To regions unexplored, secure to share
Thy state; nor hell shall punishment appear;
And Heaven is double heaven, if thou art there!'
She said: her brimful eyes, that ready stood,
And only wanted will to weep a flood,
Released their watery store, and pour'd amain,
Like clouds low hung, a sober shower of rain;
Mute solemn sorrow, free from female noise,
Such as the majesty of grief destroys:
For, bending o'er the cup, the tears she shed
Seem'd by the posture to discharge her head,
O'er-fill'd before; and oft (her mouth applied
To the cold heart) she kiss'd at once, and cried.
Her maids, who stood amazed, nor knew the cause
Of her complaining, nor whose heart it was,
Yet all due measures of her mourning kept,
Did office at the dirge, and by infection wept;
And oft inquired the' occasion of her grief,
(Unanswer'd but by sighs) and offer'd vain relief.
At length, her stock of tears already shed,
She wiped her eyes, she raised her drooping head,
And thus pursued: 'O ever faithful heart!
I have perform'd the ceremonial part,
The decencies of grief: it rests behind,
That as our bodies were, our souls be join'd:
To thy whate'er abode, my shade convey,
And as an elder ghost, direct the way.'
She said; and bade the vial to be brought,
Where she before had brew'd the deadly draught:
First pouring out the medicinable bane,
The heart, her tears had rinsed, she bathed again;
Then down her throat the death securely throws,
And quaffs a long oblivion of her woes.
This done she mounts the genial bed, and there (Her body first composed with honest care) 'Attends the welcome rest: her hands yet hold, Close to her heart, the monumental gold;
Nor further word she spoke, but closed her sight, And, quiet, sought the covert of the night.
The damsels, who the while in silence mourn'd, Not knowing, nor suspecting, death suborn'd; Yet, as their duty was, to Tancred sent, Who, conscious of the' occasion, fear'd the' event. Alarm'd, and with presaging heart he came, And drew the curtains, and exposed the dame To loathsome light: then, with a late relief, Made vain efforts to mitigate her grief. She, what she could, excluding day, her eyes Kept firmly seal'd, and sternly thus replies:
Tancred! restrain thy tears, unsought by me, And sorrow, unavailing now to thee: Did ever man before afflict his mind, To see the' effect of what himself design'd? Yet if thou hast remaining in thy heart Some sense of love, some unextinguish'd part Of former kindness, largely once profess'd, Let me by that adjure thy harden'd breast, Not to deny thy daughter's last request.
The secret love, which I so long enjoy'd,
And still conceal'd, to gratify thy pride,
Thou hast disjoin'd; but, with my dying breath,
Seek not, I beg thee, to disjoin our death:
Where'er his corpse by thy command is laid,
Thither let mine in public be convey'd;
Exposed in open view, and side by side,
Acknowledged as a bridegroom and a bride.'
The prince's anguish hinder'd his reply:
And she, who felt her fate approaching nigh,
Seized the cold heart, and heaving to her breast,
*Here, precious pledge,' she said, 'securely rest!'
These accents were her last; the creeping death
Benumb'd her senses first, then stopp'd her breath.
Thus she for disobedience justly died;
The sire was justly punish'd for his pride:
The youth, least guilty, suffer'd for the' offence
Of duty violated to his prince:
Who late repenting of his cruel deed,
One common sepulchre for both decreed; -
Entomb'd the wretched pair in royal state,
And on their monument inscribed their fate.
THE TALE OF THE NUN'S PRIEST.
THERE lived, as authors tell, in days of yore,
A widow somewhat old, and very poor:
Deep in a dell her cottage lonely stood,
Well thatch'd, and under covert of a wood.
This dowager, on whom my tale I found,
Since last she laid her husband in the ground,
A simple sober life in patience led,
And had but just enough to buy her bread:
But huswifing the little Heaven had lent,
She duly paid a groat for quarter-rent;
And pinch'd her belly with her daughters two,
To bring the year about with much ado.
The cattle in her homestead were three sows, An ewe call'd Mally, and three brinded cows. Her parlour-window stuck with herbs around, Of savoury smell; and rushes strew'd the ground. A maple-dresser in her hall she had,
On which full many a slender meal she made:
For no delicious morsel pass'd her throat;
According to her cloth she cut her coat:
No poignant sauce she knew, nor costly treat,
Her hunger gave a relish to her meat:
A sparing diet did her health assure;
Or sick, a pepper-posset was her cure.
Before the day was done, her work she sped,
And never went by candle-light to bed: