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THE BELDAMES.

1 HAIL, happy Beldames! yours those joys
2 Which time, nor accident destroys.
3 Sickness and cares your bliss dilate,
4 And pain but whets your lust of hate.
5 The flower of Youth will soon decay,
6 Health, Beauty, Pleasure fade away. :
7 Sharp sorrows sting the breast humane,
8 And hopes are false, and wishes vain.
9 But hence your joys eternal flow,
10 Their source exhaustless, human woe.
11 For you fierce War high-piles his dead,
12 Disease thick-strews her squalid bed;
13 Famine and Plagues their myriads sweep,
14 And Tempests lash th' all-whelming deep.
15 The fiery meteors hear your call,
16 And houses blaze, and temples fall.
17 But far remote from Britain's eye
18 The vaster scenes of ruin lie:
19 The cities in Vulcanos lost,
20 The scatter'd realms in whirlwinds tost,
21 Or, feller scourge, a Tyrant's brand
22 Wide-flaming o'er a blasted land:
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23 Imperfect joy, the wretch unknown,
24 Unmark'd the pang, unheard the groan.
25 Here mighty Horror scarce appears;
26 One plague perhaps in ninety years:
27 And Faction, long depriv'd of food,
28 Sits pining over public good;
29 Or feeds, with self-tormenting spleen,
30 In present bliss, on ills foreseen,
31 But here more exquisite delight
32 From private woes soothes ranc'rous Spight.
33 In pride of youth our Frederic dies,
34 And Anguish seals my Lonsdale's eyes:
35 Richmond his generous soul resign'd,
36 And Ca'ndish, friend to human kind,
37 Ev'n thoughtless
l Upon Mr. Pelham's death the places of public diversion were for a time deserted.
Pleasure droop'd her head,
38 While Britain wept o'er Pelham's bed.
39 Yet such your joys, as when the bell
40 First toll'd unhappy S—'s knell;
41 When by that hand, which thousands sed,
42 The best, the bravest Briton bled;
43 And clos'd a lise in virtue past
44 With one wrong deed, his first and last.
45 Whether impure and hard of soul
46 The Daughter mix'd the deadly bowl;
47 Or if seducing Love betray'd
48 To crimes unknown the yielding maid;
49 Whether in weakness or in guilt,
50 One joy is sure, her blood is spilt:
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51 And still to raise the transport higher,
52 Believe her innocent expire!
53 By no degree, no sex defin'd,
54 Their Virtues stamp the Beldame-kind,
55 Who cringe and slander, sting and fawn,
56 In rags, or lace, or fur, or lawn;
57 Whether in perriwigs or pinners,
58 If Whitefield's saints, or Arthur's sinners;
59 If now the scold at Wapping flames,
60 Or flaunts a Dutchess at St. James' ;
61 Alike, if they revile or flatter,
62 (Who lie in praise, will lie in satire)
63 All the foul sisterhood compose,
64 All those, and all resembling those.
65 But some, in hoary Age's train,
66 By sixty winters chill'd in vain,
67 With hearts that melt, and nerves that feel,
68 Display a breast unarm'd with steel.
69 How few are these! and of these few
70 Good Heaven hath seiz'd on Montagu.
71 Germain yet lives, not half reveal'd,
72 Her bounties more than half conceal'd;
73 And should I add another name,
74 Blushing she flies pursuing Fame.
75 For such is Virtue's aukward pride,
76 Scarce more intent to give than hide.
77 Peace to all such in silent state,
78 So few scarce worth the Beldame's hate.
79 'Tis not enough that Nature's plan
80 To Cares, to Death predestines Man;
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81 That ev'n those few, we happy call,
82 Bend to the general doom of all,
83 While bliss, a scanty portion, flows
84 Mixt in the stream of bitter woes:
85 Not one escapes the Beldame's hate,
86 Great leveller to one estate.
87 As in the Sun's meridian blaze
88 A cloud obscene of insects plays,
89 Or with invenom'd sting invades
90 The quiet of sequester'd shades,
91 Now swarms on filth, and now pollutes
92 The nectar of the fairest fruits:
93 So thro' each rank, thro' every stage
94 Wantons the ceaseless Beldame's rage.
95 Sublimely rapt in patriot heat,
96 Furious she shakes the Monarch's seat,
97 Now stooping spurns the lowly cell
98 Where calm Content, and Concord dwell,
99 Well pleas'd degraded Worth to see,
100 Or Felons load the groaning tree.
101 Yet shall the tear of Pity flow,
102 Yet shall her hand exalt the low;
103 Shall pull aspiring Merit down,
104 And deck the base with Honor's crown;
105 Intent to lower, not fond to raise,
106 Hatred her friendship, spite her praise.
107 Or when some all-respected name,
108 High-borne upon the tide of Fame,
109 In Glory's pomp resistless draws
110 A nation breathless in applause;
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111 The Beldame loud exalts her voice,
112 And bids a gladden'd world rejoice;
113 Yet then dissembling Art will blend
114 Th' unwilling censure of a Friend:
115 Lavish in praise she pours her soul,
116 But one Exception damns the whole.
117 Behold the Fiend all pallid stand,
118 A pencil trembling in her hand:
119 See Malice mix the various dies
120 Of fainter truths and bolder lies.
121 The deepening gloom thick spreads around
122 And lowering shades the dusky ground.
123 There Sickness blights the cheek of Health,
124 And Beggary soils the robe of Wealth.
125 Here, Columns moulder in decay;
126 There, Virtue sets with dubious ray.
127 Now heavenly Beauty fades, and now
128 The laurel droops on Valour's brow.
129 Around the Daemon throngs her race,
130 The weak, the busy, and the base;
131 Eager to copy, and disperse:
132 Hence slanderous Prose, and ribald Verse;
133 The heaps that crowd Suiila's board,
134 And swell wise Paulo's precious hoard.
135 There Scandal all its store unloads,
136 Ballads, and Epigrams, and Odes:
137 Stern Party whets her blunted knife,
138 And stabs the Husband thro' the Wife;
139 While Notes historically sage
140 Fill the broad margin of each Page;
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141 Initials, dashes well supply'd,
142 And all that fear or shame would hide;
143 Faithful record for future times
144 To harden by their fathers' crimes.
145 No Beldam Bard with phrenzy sir'd,
146 No prophetess by hell inspir'd,
147 Creative boasts so rich a vein
148 As swells the Beldame's teeming brain,
149 And mocking study, wit, and sense,
150 Flows in unletter'd eloquence.
151 Thus beyond Truth's contracted line
152 Invention's Universe is thine.
153 Thine every tale that Fiction brings,
154 Whether she soars with painted wings,
155 Or plunges in the depths of night
156 For horrid deeds, unknown to light.
157 There should she mark some real blot,
158 Tho' long forgiv'n, tho' long forgot;
159 God's cancell'd Grace her rage resumes,
160 The crime rejudg'd, the man she dooms;
161 In deeper dyes she spreads the stain,
162 And pitying Heaven relents in vain.
163 Fitly, o'er Libya's horrid sand,
164 The javelin arms the Huntsman's hand.
165 Lo! where the mangled traveller lies,
166 Drawn by the false Hyaena's cries;
167 And dreadful stalking o'er the plain,
168 The Lion shakes his brindled main.
169 But why shall barbarous Rage invade
170 The tenant of yon peaceful shade,
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171 While issuing with the morning's dawn,
172 Playful she prints the dewy lawn?
173 O why that hostile pomp prepare
174 To vex the timorous harmless hare?
175 As if some monster, yet untam'd,
176 Single a host of Heroes claim'd:
177 While Echo o'er the hills resounds
178 Horsemen, and steeds, and horns, and hounds.
179 Such, nor less eager in their chace,
180 Forth springs the clamorous Beldame race:
181 Harsh Chorus of discordant notes
182 From yelping tongues and time-crack'd throats;
183 Where lewder Youth outstrips the wind,
184 And limping Eighty lags behind:
185 Yet faithful to the beaten track
186 The slow-pac'd sluggard hunts the pack.
187 Meek Virtue to the covert flies
188 With panting heart and clouded eyes.
189 Ah! spare the gentle coward's fears
190 Who only answers with her tears;
191 And trembles at imputed sin
192 Tho' all be innocence within.
193 But Lions to their shaggy breast
194 Shall fostering press the fearless guest;
195 The sooth'd Hyaena shed a tear
196 O'er prostrate man, with soul sincere;
197 The Priest with hesitating hand
198 Awhile suspend th' uplifted brand;
199 Ere Pity melts the Beldame's eyes,
200 Glutted with human sacrifice.
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201 With liquid fire the goblet crown'd,
202 The livid tapers gleaming round,
203 While Wisdom, Valour, Beauty sleep,
204 The midnight hags their sabbath keep;
205 And recent from impure delights
206 Fell Hecat' leads th' infernal rites.
207 O'er her wan cheek diffusely spread
208 Fierce glares the bright vermillion's red.
209 The borrow'd hair in ringlets flows
210 Adown her neck of art-form'd snows;
211 While baleful drugs in vain renew
212 Departing Beauty's faded hue.
213 Some spotless name their rage demands,
214 The name rebellowing thro' the bands;
215 Some holy Sage of sainted life,
216 A Virgin pure, a faithful Wife.
217 And you, who dauntless dar'd to brave
218 The ruthless foe and threatening wave,
219 Vainly you 'scap'd th' unequal fight;
220 Deep yawns the gulph of deadlier spight;
221 There plung'd th' insatiate Beldames roar,
222 And the wide ruin gapes sor more.
223 Where trees their mantling foliage spread,
224 And roses bend their blooming head,
225 Ye, Virgins, tread with cautious feet,
226 And cautious pluck the tempting sweet:
227 There lurks the snake with speckled crest,
228 There broods the toad with bloated breast;
229 With poisons dire the reptiles fill'd,
230 From Heaven's transparent dews distill'd.
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231 But O! more wary trace the maze,
232 Where Youth in frolic pastime plays:
233 There dread the spight-swoln Beldame's wrath,
234 Glancing thro' Pleasure's flowery path,
235 And subtle drawing foul offence
236 From the chaste breath of innocence.
237 Or should the tender bosom yield
238 Transpierc'd thro' Honor's frailer shield;
239 O Virtue smooth thy brow austere,
240 Accept the penitential tear:
241 Raise the fall'n mourner from the ground,
242 And pour sweet mercy o'er the wound;
243 Nor join these furies in their chace,
244 Nor drive her 'midst that hellish race.
245 Angels shall hear the suppliant's voice,
246 And Beldames howl, and Heaven rejoice.
247 Let the obdurate Stoic's pride
248 Climb the steep mountain's craggy side;
249 Where far remote from mortal ken
250 Virtue usurps the Tyger's den,
251 And scowling on the crowd below
252 Nor feels, nor pities human woe.
253 Let holy zeal, with frantic mien,
254 And haggard look and garb obscene,
255 Spurn every gift the Heavens dispense,
256 And pine in sullen abstinence;
257 Yet drink with eager ears and eyes
258 The tortur'd wretches agonies.
259 Hence, hell-born Fiends! nor dare bely
260 The Seraph with indulgent eye:
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261 Whence Science beams eternal day,
262 Enlightening millions with her ray;
263 Whence Arts their genial influence spread
264 O'er smiling Nature's teeming bed;
265 Whence Bounty with extended hand
266 Scatters her blessings o'er the land;
267 And Love, the universal soul,
268 Pervades, unites, inspires the whole.
269 So Virtue dwelt, celestial guest,
270 O Lonsdale! in thy spotless breast.
271 Tho' pure as Heaven from moral stain,
272 Tho' torn with unrelenting pain,
273 'Twas thine for others woes to melt,
274 And pardon frailties never felt.
275 While Youth thy gayer converse sought,
276 And Age instructed heard and thought.
277 And thou, my Friend, for such my claim,
278 And such my best, my dearest Fame,
279 Tho' Time with shrivel'd fingers throws
280 Thick o'er thy head unmingled snows,
281 Still in that eye the spark divine
282 Shall with unfading lustre shine;
283 Still flow the stream of copious sense
284 Clear as in Attic eloquence.
285 So thro' the meadow's silver bed,
286 With lilies and with snow-drops spread,
287 Far-honour'd Thames, our Britain's pride,
288 Majestic rolls his crystal tide,
289 Where many an ancient brook distils
290 Its wealth in tributary rills.
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291 And in the happy social hour
292 Well sav'd from state, and cares, and power,
293 Long may I come a welcome guest
294 To share the treasures of that breast,
295 Where Spleen ne'er rankled at the heart,
296 Nor Malice lodg'd her rusty dart.

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Title (in Source Edition): THE BELDAMES.
Author: Anonymous
Themes: virtue; vice
Genres: ode
References: DMI 32660

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Source edition

A collection of poems in four volumes. By several hands. Vol. IV. [The second edition]. London: printed for G. Pearch, 1770, pp. 156-166. 4v. ; 8⁰. (ESTC T116245; DMI 1137)

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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the ECCO-TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.