[Page 221]

The DOWAGER.

1 WHERE aged elms in many a goodly row
2 Give yearly shelter to the constant crow,
3 A mansion stands: long since the pile was rais'd,
4 Whose Gothic grandeur the rude hind amaz'd.
5 For the rich ornament on ev'ry part,
6 Confess'd the founder's wealth, and workman's art:
7 Tho' as the range of the wide court we tread,
8 The broken arch now totters o'er the head;
9 And where of old rose high the social smoke,
10 Now swallows build, and lonely ravens croak.
11 Tho' Time, whose touch each beauty can deface,
12 Has torn from ev'ry tow'r the sculptur'd grace;
13 Tho' round each stone the sluggard ivy crawls,
14 Yet ancient state sits hov'ring on the walls.
15 Where wont the festal chorus to resound,
16 And jocund dancing frequent beat the ground,
17 Now Silence spreads around her gloomy reign,
18 Save when the mastiff clanks his iron chain,
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19 Save when his hoarse bark echoes dire alarm,
20 Fierce to protect the place from midnight harm,
21 Its only guard; no revel sounding late
22 Drives the night villain from the lonely gate.
23 An hallow'd matron and her simple train
24 These solemn battlements alone contain;
25 An hoary dowager, whose placid face
26 Old age has deck'd with lovely aweful grace;
27 With almost vernal bloom her cheek still strow'd,
28 As beauty ling'ring left her lov'd abode;
29 That lov'd abode, where join'd with truth and sense
30 She form'd the features to mute eloquence,
31 And bade them charm the still attentive throng,
32 Who watch'd the sacred lessons of her tongue.
33 For not thro' life the dame had liv'd retir'd,
34 But once had shone, e'en 'midst a court admir'd:
35 What time the lov'd possessor of her charms
36 Returning from the war in victor arms,
37 Call'd from his monarch's tongue the plausive praise,
38 While honour wreath'd him with unfading bays.
39 She, happy partner of each joyful hour,
40 Then walk'd serene amid the pomp of pow'r:
41 While all confess'd no warrior's wish could move
42 For fairer prize, than such accomplish'd love:
43 Nor to that love could aught more transport yield,
44 Than graceful valour from the victor field.
45 Thus flourish'd once the beauteous and the brave;
46 But mortal bliss meets still th' untimely grave:
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47 Aurelius died his relict's pious tear
48 O'er his lov'd ashes frequent flow'd sincere,
49 Each decent rite with due observance paid,
50 Each solemn requiem offer'd to his shade,
51 Plac'd 'mid the brave his urn in holy ground,
52 And bade his hallow'd banners wave around.
53 Then left the gaudy scenes of pomp and power,
54 While prudence beckon'd to that ancient bower,
55 And those paternal fields, the sole remains
56 Of ample woods and far-extended plains,
57 Which tyrant custom rudely tore away
58 To distant heirship an expected prey.
59 Serene she sought the far-retired grove,
60 Once the bless'd mansion of her happy love,
61 Pleas'd with the thought, that memory oft would raise
62 A solemn prospect of those blooming days
63 Aurelius gave: her pious purpose now
64 To keep still constant to her sacred vow;
65 In lonely luxury her sorrows feed,
66 And pass her life in widow's decent weed.
67 One pledge of love her comfort still remain'd,
68 Whom in this solitude she careful train'd
69 To virtuous lore; and while as year by year
70 New graces made Aurelia still more dear;
71 Full many an hour unheeded she would trace
72 The father's semblance in the daughter's face;
73 While tender sighs oft heav'd her faithful breast,
74 And sudden tears her lasting love exprest.
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75 Thus long she dwelt in innate virtues great,
76 Amid the villagers in sacred state:
77 For ev'ry grace to which submission bows,
78 The pow'r which conscious dignity bestows,
79 She felt superior; for from ancient race
80 She gloried her long ancestry to trace;
81 And ever bade Aurelia's thought aspire
82 To every grace, each ray of sacred fire,
83 That full of heav'n-born dignity informs
84 The mortal breast which ardent virtue warms;
85 Then led her to the venerable hall
86 Where her successive sires adorn'd the wall,
87 And arched windows with their blazon bright
88 Shed thro' the herald glow a solemn light:
89 There clad in rough habiliments of war
90 Full many a hero bore a glorious scar;
91 There in the civic fur the sons of peace,
92 Whose counsels bade their country's tumults cease;
93 While by their side, gracing the ancient scene,
94 Hung gentle ladies of most comely mien.
95 Then eager thro' the well-known tale she run,
96 In what fair cause each honour had been won,
97 What female grace each virgin had possess'd
98 To charm to gentle love the manly breast;
99 Pleas'd to observe how long her gen'rous blood
100 Thro' sair and brave had pass'd a spotless flood.
101 Mean while the young Aurelia's bosom sir'd
102 With emulation by each tale inspir'd,
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103 In eager transport frequent breath'd her prayer
104 The graces of her ancestry to share:
105 Nor breath'd in vain, her fond maternal guide
106 Cherish'd with care each spark of virtuous pride;
107 And ever as she gave a lesson new,
108 Would point some old example to her view:
109 Inflam'd by this, her mind was quickly fraught
110 With each sage precept, that her mother taught.
111 The goodly dame thus bless'd in her employ,
112 Felt each soft transport of parental joy,
113 And liv'd content, her utmost wish fulfill'd
114 In the fair prospect of a virtuous child:
115 Resign'd she waited now the aweful hour
116 Then death should raise her to that heav'nly bow'r,
117 There with her lov'd Aurelius she might share
118 The pleasing task, to watch with guardian care
119 Their offspring's steps, and hov'ring o'er her head,
120 The gracious dew of heavenly peace to shed;
121 Nor fear'd her decency of life would prove
122 An added bliss to all the joys above.

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    About this text

    Title (in Source Edition): The DOWAGER.
    Author: Anonymous
    Themes: age; women; female character; beauty; death
    Genres: heroic couplet
    References: DMI 27858

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    Source edition

    A Collection of Poems in Six Volumes. By Several Hands. Vol. VI. London: printed by J. Hughs, for R. and J. Dodsley, 1763 [1st ed. 1758], pp. 221-225. 6v.: music; 8⁰. (ESTC T131163; OTA K104099.006)

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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.

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