AN EPISTLE FROM AN UNFORTUNATE GENTLEMAN TO A YOUNG LADYb
b Occasioned by a catastrophe well known in the West..
1 THESE, the last lines my trembling hands can write,
2 These words, the last my dying lips recite,
3 Read, and repent that your unkindness gave
4 A wretched lover an untimely grave!
5 Sunk by despair from life's enchanting view,
6 Lost, ever lost to happiness and you! —
7 No more these eye-lids shower incessant tears,
8 No more my spirit sinks with boding fears;
9 No more your frowns my suing passion meet,
10 No more I fall submissive at your feet:
11 With fruitless love this heart shall cease to burn,
12 Life's empty dream shall never-more return. [Page 286]
13 Think not, that labouring to subdue your hate;
14 My artful soul forebodes a fancied fate;
15 For e'er yon sun descends his western way,
16 Cold shall I lie, a lifeless lump of clay!
17 Tir'd of my long encounters with disdain,
18 Peaceful my pulse, and ebbing from its pain;
19 Each vital movement sinking to decay,
20 And my spent soul just languishing away;
21 E'er my last breath yet hovers to depart,
22 I prompt my hand to pour out all my heart.
23 The hand, oft rais'd compassion to implore;
24 The heart, that burns with slighted fires no more!
25 Relentless nymph! of nature's fairest frame,
26 Unpitying soul, and woman but in name;
27 Angelic bloom the coldest heart to win,
28 Without, allurement, but disdain within;
29 Regard the sounds which seal my parting breath
30 E'er the vain murmurs shall be hush'd in death,
31 Let pity view what love disdain'd to save,
32 And mourn a wretch sent headlong to the grave.
33 Profuse of all an anxious lover's care,
34 To urge his suit, and win the listening fair;
35 Try'd every purpose to relieve my woe,
36 My soul chides not, for innocent I go;
37 Save when soft pity bids my gentler mind
38 Shrink at your fate, and drop a tear behind.
39 How oft and fruitless have I strove to move
40 Unfeeling beauty with the pangs of love;
41 As rose your breast with captivating grace,
42 And heighten'd charms flew blushing to your face;
43 Insulting charms! that gave a fiercer wound,
44 Fond as I lay, and prostrate on the ground.
45 Heavens! with what scorn you strove my suit to meet,
46 Frown'd with your eyes, and spurn'd me with your feet!
47 To bleeding love such hard returns you gave,
48 As barbarous rocks that dash the pressing wave.
49 O could your looks have turn'd my hapless fate,
50 And frown'd my short-liv'd passion into hate;
51 Then had no scattering breeze my sorrows known,
52 Nor vale responsive had prolong'd the moan;
53 Then had those lips ne'er learnt their woeful tale,
54 Nor death yet cloath'd them in eternal pale.
55 Oft to the woods in frantic rage I slew
56 To cool my bosom with the falling dew;
57 Oft in sad accents sigh'd each prompting ill,
58 And taught wild oaks to pity and to feel;
59 Till with despair my heart rekindled burns,
60 And all the anguish of my soul returns.
61 Then restless to the fragrant meads I hie,
62 Death in my face, distraction in my eye;
63 There as reclin'd along the verdant plain,
64 My grief renews her heart-wrung strains again,
65 Lo! pitying Phoebus sinks, with sorrow pale,
66 And mournful night descends upon the tale!
67 When tir'd, at length, my wrongs no more complain,
68 And sighs are stifled in obtuser pain;
69 When the deep fountains of my eyes are spent,
70 And fiercer anguish sinks to discontent;
71 Slow I return, and prostrate on my bed
72 Bid the soft pillow lull my heavy head.
73 But O! when downy sleep its court renews,
74 And shades the soul with visionary views,
75 Illusive dreams to fan my slumbering fire,
76 And wake the fever of intense desire,
77 Present your softer image to my sight,
78 All warm with smiles, and glowing with delight;
79 Gods! with what bliss I view thy darling charms,
80 And strive to clasp thee melting in my arms! —
81 But ah! the shade my empty grasp deceives;
82 And as it flits, and my fond soul bereaves,
83 The transient slumbers slip their airy chain,
84 And give me back to all my woes again:
85 There wrapt in floods of grief I sigh forlorn,
86 The constant greetings of unwelcome morn.
87 But should oblivion reassume her sway,
88 And slumbers once more steal my woes away;
89 When the short flights of fancy intervene,
90 Your much-lov'd image fills out every scene.
91 But now no more soft smiles your face adorn,
92 Lo! o'er each feature broods destructive scorn.
93 Suppliant in tears I urge my suit again,
94 Sullen you stand, and view me with disdain;
95 Your ears exclude the story of my smart,
96 Your baleful eyes dart anguish to my heart. [Page 289]
97 I wake — glad nature hails returning day,
98 And the wild songsters chaunt their mattin-lay;
99 The sun in glory mounts the crystal sky,
100 And all creation is in smiles but I.
101 Then, sink in death, my senses! — for in vain
102 You strive to quench the phrenzy of your pain;
103 Break, break, fond heart! — her hate thou can'st not tame,
104 Then take this certain triumph o'er thy flame.
105 'Tis done! — the dread of future wrongs is past —
106 Lo! brittle passion verges to its last!
107 'Tis done! — vain life's illusive scenes are o'er —
108 Disdainful beauty shakes her chains no more.
109 Come, peaceful gloom, expand thy downy breast,
110 And soothe, O soothe me to eternal rest!
111 There hush my plaints, and gently lull my woes,
112 Where one still stream of dull oblivion flows.
113 No labouring breast there heaves with torture's throws,
114 No heart consumes her daily hoard of woes;
115 No dreams of former pain the soul invade,
116 Calmly she sleeps, a sad unthinking shade!
117 But e'er from thought my struggling soul is free,
118 One latest tear she dedicates to thee.
119 She views thee on the brink of vain despair,
120 Beat thy big breast, and rend thy flowing hair.
121 Feels torturing love her sable deluge roll,
122 Weigh down thy senses, and o'erbear thy soul.
123 In vain your heart relents, in vain you weep,
124 No lover wakes from his eternal sleep. [Page 290]
125 Alas! I see thy frantic spirit rave,
126 And thy last breath expiring on my grave.
127 Is this the fortune of those high-priz'd charms?
128 Ah! spare them for some worthier lover's arms.
129 And may these bodings ne'er with truth agree,
130 May grief and anguish be unknown to thee,
131 May bitter memory ne'er recount with pain,
132 That e'er you frown'd, or I admir'd in vain.
133 No more — my spirit is prepar'd to fly,
134 Supprest my voice, and stiffen'd is my eye:
135 Death's swimming shadows intercept my view,
136 Vain world, and thou relentless nymph, adieu!