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If there be gods, and gods there surely are,
Insulted virtue doubtless is their care.
Then hasten, righteous powers! my tedious fate,
Shorten my woes, and end my mortal date :
Quick let your power transform this failing frame,
Let me be any thing but what I am !
And since the cruel woes I'm doomed to feel,
Proceed, alas! from having loved too well,
Grant me some form where love can have no part,
No human weakness reach my guarded heart;
Where no soft touch of passion can be felt,
No fond affection this weak bosom melt.
If pity has not left your blest abodes,
Change me to flinty adamant, ye gods !
To hardest rock, or monumental stone,
So may I know no more the pangs I've known;
So shall I thus no further torments prove,
Nor taunting rivals say she died for love;
For sure, if aught can aggravate our wo,
'Tis the feigned pity of a prosperous foe.”
Thus prayed the nymph—and straight the powers addressed
Accord the weeping suppliant's sad request.
_Then, strange to tell ! if rural folks say true,
To hardened rock the stiffening damsel grew;
No more her shapeless features can be known,
Stone is her body, and her limbs are stone;
The growing rock invades her beauteous face,
And quickly petrifies each living grace:
The stone, her stature nor her shape retains ;
The nymph is vanished, but the rock remains.
No vestige now of human shape appears,
No cheek for blushes, and no eyes for tears :
Yet-strange the marvels poets can impart !
Unchanged, unchilled, remained the glowing heart;
Its vital spirits destined still to keep,
It scorned to mingle with the marble heap.
When babbling fame the wondrous tidings bore,
Grief seized the soul of perjured Polydore;
And now the falsehood of his soul appears,
And now his broken vows assail his ears.
Appalled, his smitten fancy seems to view
The nymph so lovely, and the friend so true.
For since her absence, all the virgin train
His admiration sought to win in vain.
Though not to keep him e'en Ianthe knew,
From vanity alone his falsehood grew :
O let the youthful heart, thus warned, beware
Of vanity, how deep, how wide the snare;
That half the mischiefs youth and beauty know
From vanity's exhaustless fountain flow.
Now deep remorse deprives his soul of rest,
And deep compunction wounds his guilty breast :
Then to the fatal spot in haste he flew,
Eager some vestige of the maid to view;
The shapeless rock he marked, but found no trace
Of lost Ianthe's form, Ianthe's face. -
He fixed his streaming eyes upon the stone,
“ And take, sweet maid,” he cried, “ my parting groan;
Since we are doomed thus terribly to part,
No other nymph shall ever share my heart;
Thus only I'm absolved ”—he rashly cried,
Then plunged a deadly poniard in his side!
Fainting, the steel he grasped, and as he fell
The weapon pierced the rock he loved so well;
The guiltless steel assailed the living part,
And stabbed the vital, vulnerable heart.
And though the rocky mass was pale before,
Behold it tinged with ruddy streams of gore !
The life-blood, issuing from the wounded stone,
Blends with the crimson current of his own;
From Polydore's fresh wound it flowed in part,
But chief emitted from Ianthe's heart.
And though revolving ages since have passed,
The meeting torrents undiminished last;
Still gushes out the sanguine stream amain,
The standing wonder of the stranger swain.
Now once a year, so rustic records tell,
When o'er the heath resounds the midnight bell,
On eve of Midsummer, that foe to sleep,
What time young maids their annual vigils keep,
The tell-tale shrub,* fresh gathered to declare
The swains who false, from those who constant are;
When ghosts in clanking chains the churchyard walk,
And to the wondering ear of fancy talk;
When the scared maid steals trembling through the grove,
To kiss the grave of him who died for love;
When, with long watchings, Care, at length oppressed,
Steals broken pauses of uncertain rest ;
* Midsummer-men, consulted as oracular by village maids,
Nay, Grief short snatches of repose can take,
And nothing but Despair is quite awake,
Then, at that hour, so still, so full of fear,
When all things horrible to thought appear,
Is perjured Polydore observed to rove
A ghastly spectre through the gloomy grove;
Then to the rock, the Bleeding Rock repair,
Where, sadly sighing, it dissolves in air.
Still when the hours of solemn rites return,
The village train in sad procession mourn;
Pluck every weed which might the spot disgrace,
And plant the fairest field-flowers in their place.
Around no noxious plant or floweret grows,
But the first daffodil and earliest rose :
The snowdrop spreads its whitest bosom here,
And golden cowslips grace the vernal year :
Here the pale primrose takes a fairer hue,
And every violet boasts a brighter blue.
Here builds the woodlark, here the faithful dove
Laments his lost, or wooes his living love.
Secure from harm is every hallowed nest;
The spot is sacred where true lovers rest.
To guard the rock from each malignant sprite,
A troop of guardian spirits watch by night;
Aloft in air each takes his little stand:
The neighboring hill is hence called Fairy Land.*
Youngest Daughter of Dr. HORNE, late Bishop of Norwich,
Written on the blank leaves of “MOTHER BUNCH's Tales ;” and showing the su
periority of these histories to most others.
To thee, fair creature, Sally Horne, *
(And sure a fairer ne'er was born),
A grave biographer I send,
By Newberry in the churchyard penned
(Or, if to truth my phrase I stinted,
By Newberry in the churchyard printed),
Hight Mother Bunch-a worthier sage
Ne'er filled, I ween, th' historic page;
For she of kings and queens can prate,
As fast as patriotic Kate ; †
Nor vents, like her, her idle spleen,
Merely because 'tis king or queen.
Kate, who each subject makes a slave,
Would make each potentate a knave;
Though Britons can the converse prove,
A king who reigns and rules by love.
While Mother Bunch's honest story,
Unawed by Whig, unwarped by Tory,
Paints sovereigns with impartial pen,
Some good, some bad, like other men.
O, there are few such books as these,
Which only mean to teach or please;
Read Mother Bunch, then, charming Sally;
Her writings with your taste will tally.
No pride of learning she displays,
Nor reads one word a hundred ways;
To please the young she lays before em
A simple tale, sans variorum ;
With notes and margins unperplexed,
And comments which confuse the text.
No double senses interfere
To puzzle what before was clear.
Here no mistaken dates deceive ye,
Which oft occur from Hume to Livy.
Her dates, more safe and more sublime,
Seize the broad phrase-" Once on a time.”
Then Mother Bunch is no misleader
In citing authors who precede her ;
Unlike our modern wits of note, -
Who purposely and oft misquote;
Who injure history, or intend it,
As much as Kennicott* to mend it;
And seek no less the truth to mangle
Than he to clear and disentangle.
These short digressions we apply
Our author's fame to magnify;
She seeks not to bewilder youth,
But all is true she gives for truth;
And, till to analyze you're able,
Fable is safe while given as fable :
As mere invention you receive it;
You know 'tis false, and disbelieve it;
While that bad chemistry which brings
And mixes up incongruous things,
With genuine fact invention blending,
As if true history wanted mending;
. * Dr. Benjamin Kennicott, canon of Christ Church, was then employed in completing at the Oxford press his great edition of the Hebrew Bible, collated from all the MSS. that could be consulted by himself and his assistants, at home and abroad. This stupendous labor occupied twenty years, being begun in 1759, and ended in 1779.- ED.