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Thus fix'd she Virtue's image, that's her own, Till the whole mother in the children shone; For that was their perfection; she was such, They never could express her mind too much. So unexhausted her perfections were, That, for more children, she had more to spare; For souls unborn, whom her untimely death Deprived of bodies, and of mortal breath; And, could they take the' impressions of her mind, Enough still left to sanctify her kind.
Then wonder not to see this soul extend The bounds, and seek some other self, a friend; As swelling seas to gentle rivers glide, To seek repose, and empty out the tide ; So this full soul, in narrow limits pent, Unable to contain her, sought a vent To issue out, and in some friendly breast Discharge her treasures, and securely rest; To' unbosom all the secrets of her heart, Take good advice, but better to impart : For 'tis the bliss of friendship's holy state, To mix their minds, and to communicate; Though bodies cannot, souls can penetrate : Fix'd to her choice, inviolably true, And wisely choosing, for she chose but few. Some she must have, but in no one could find A tally fitted for so large a mind.
The souls of friends like kings in progress are; Still in their own, though from the palace far: Thus her friend's heart her country-dwelling was, A sweet retirement to a coarser place;
Where pomp and ceremonies enter'd not, [forgot. Where greatness was shut out, and business well
This is the' imperfect draught; but short as far As the true height and bigness of a star Exceeds the measures of the' astronomer. She shines above, we know; but in what place, How near the throne, and Heaven's imperial face, By our weak optics is but vainly guess'd; Distance and altitude conceal the rest.
Though all these rare endowments of the mind Were in a narrow space of life confined, The figure was with full perfection crown'd, Though not so large an orb, as truly round.
As when in glory through the public place The spoils of conquer'd nations were to pass, And but one day for triumph was allow'd, The Consul was constrain'd his pomp to crowd; And so the swift procession hurried on, That all, though not distinctly, might be shown: So in the straighten'd bounds of life confined, She gave but glimpses of her glorious mind; And multitudes of virtues pass'd along, Each pressing foremost in the mighty throng, Ambitious to be seen, and then make room For greater multitudes that were to come.
Yet unemploy'd no minute slipp'd away;
Moments were precious in so short a stay.
The haste of Heaven to have her was so great,
That some were single acts, though each complete,
But every act stood ready to repeat.
Her fellow-saints with busy care will look
For her bless'd name in Fate's eternal book;
And, pleased to be outdone, with joy will see
Numberless virtues, endless charity;
But more will wonder, at so short an age,
To find a blank beyond the thirtieth page:
And, with a pious fear, begin to doubt
The piece imperfect, and the rest torn out:
But 'twas her Saviour's time; and could there be
A copy near the' original, 'twas she.
As precious gums are not for lasting fire,
They but perfume the temple, and expire;
So was she soon exhaled, and vanish'd hence,
A short, sweet odour, of a vast expense.
She vanish'd, we can scarcely say she died;
For but a Now did Heaven and earth divide:
She pass'd serenely with a single breath;
This moment perfect health, the next was death:
One sigh did her eternal bliss assure;
So little penance needs when souls are almost pure.
As gentle dreams our waking thoughts pursue,
Or, one dream pass'd, we slide into a new;
So close they follow, such wild order keep,
We think ourselves awake, and are asleep;
So softly death succeeded life in her:
She did but dream of Heaven, and she was there.
No pains she suffer'd, nor expired with noise,
Her soul was whisper'd out with God's still voice;
As an old friend is beckon'd to a feast,
And treated like a long-familiar guest,
He took her as he found, but found her so,
As one in hourly readiness to go:
F'en on that day, in all her trim prepared,
As early notice she from Heaven had heard,
And some descending courier from above
Had given her timely warning to remove;
Or counsell'd her to dress the nuptial room,
For on that night the bridegroom was to come.
He kept his hour, and found her, where she lay,
Cloth'd all in white, the livery of the day.
Scarce had she sinned in thought, or word, or act,
Unless omissions were to pass for fact;
That hardly Death a consequence could draw,
To make her liable to Nature's law.
And, that she died, we only have to show
The mortal part of her she left below:
The rest, so smooth, so suddenly she went,
Look'd like translation through the firmament,
Or like the fiery car on the third errand sent.
O happy soul! if thou canst view from high,
Where thou art all intelligence, all eye,
If looking up to God, or down to us,
Thou find'st that any way be pervious,
Survey the ruins of thy house, and see
Thy widow'd and thy orphan family;
Look on thy tender pledges left behind;
And, if thou canst a vacant minute find
From heavenly joys, that interval afford
To thy sad children, and thy mourning Lord.
See how they grieve, mistaken in their love,
And shed a beam of comfort from above;
Give them, as much as mortal eyes can bear,
A transient view of thy full glories there,
That they with moderate sorrow may sustain
And mollify their losses in thy gain;
Or else divide the grief; for such thou wert,
That should not all relations bear a part,
It were enough to break a single heart.
Let this suffice; nor thou, great saint! refuse
This humble tribute of no vulgar Muse;
Who not by cares, or wants, or age depress'd,
Stems a wild deluge with a dauntless breast;
And dares to sing thy praises in a clime
Where Vice triumphs, and Virtue is a crime;
Where e'en to draw the picture of thy mind,
Is satire on the most of human kind:
Take it while yet 'tis praise; before my rage,
Unsafely just, break loose on this bad age;
So bad, that thou thyself hadst no defence
From vice, but barely by departing hence.
Be what, and where thou art: to wish thy place
Were, in the best, presumption, more than grace.
Thy relics (such thy works of mercy are)
Have, in this Poem, been my holy care.
As earth thy body keeps, thy soul the sky,
So shall this verse preserve thy memory;
For thou shalt make it live, because it sings of thee.
A PASTORAL ELEGY.
'Twas on a joyless and a gloomy morn,
Wet was the grass, and hung with pearls the thorn,
When Damon, who design'd to pass the day
With hounds and horns, and chase the flying prey,
Rose early from his bed; but soon he found
The welkin pitch'd with sullen clouds around,
An eastern wind, and dew upon the ground.
Thus while he stood, and, sighing, did survey
The fields, and cursed the' ill omens of the day,
He saw Menalcas come with heavy pace,
Wet were his eyes, and cheerless was his face;
He wrung his hands, distracted with his care,
And sent his voice before him from afar :
Return, (he cry'd), return, unhappy swain,
The spungy clouds are fill'd with gathering rain;