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To recollect her scatter'd thought,
And shun the noontide hour, The lovely bride in secret sought
The coolness of her bower.
Long she remain'd — th' enamour'd knight,
Impatient at her stay, And all unfit to taste delight
When Birtha was away,
Betakes him to the secret bower;
His footsteps softly move; Impell’d by ev'ry tender power,
He steals upon his love.
O, horror! horror! blasting sight!
He sees his Birtha's charms Reclin'd with melting, fond delight,
Within a stranger's arms.
Distracted at the sight,
And stabs the stranger knight.
“ Die, traitor, die ! thy guilty flames
« Demand th' avenging steel !” — “ It is my brother !” she exclaims,
“ 'Tis Edwy - Oh, farewell !"
An aged peasant, Edwy's guide,
The good old ARDOLPH sought; He told him that his bosom's pride,
His Edwy, he had brought.
O how the father's feelings melt;
How faint, and how revive !
To find his son alive.
“ Let me behold my darling's face,
6 And bless him ere I die!” Then with a swift and vigorous pace,
He to the bower did hie:
O sad reverse! — Sunk on the ground
His slaughter'd son he view'd ; And dying Birtha, close he found,
In brother's blood imbru’d.
Cold, speechless, senseless, ELDRED near,
Gaz’d on the deed he had done;
Or Madness grav'd in stone.
: The father saw — so Jephtha stood,
So turn'd his woe-fraught eye,
His zeal had doom’d to die.
He look’d the woe he could not speak,
And on the pale corse press’d
And silent, sunk to rest.
Then Birtha faintly rais'd her eye,
Which long had ceas’d to stream, On Eldred fix’d, with many a sigh,
Its dim departing beam.
The cold, cold dews of hastening death
Upon her pale face stand;
And tremulous her hand.
The cold, cold dews of hastening death,
The dim departing eye, The quiv’ring hand, the short quick breath,
He view'd — and did not die:
He saw her spirit mount in air,
Its kindred skies to seek !
And yet it would not break.
The mournful Muse forbears to tell
How wretched ELDRED died :
* * * * *
Yet Heaven's decrees are just and wise,
And man is born to bear : Joy is the portion of the skies,
Beneath them, all is care.
Yet blame not Heav'n ; 'tis erring man,
Who mars his own best joys; Whose passions uncontroll’d, the plan
Of promis'd bliss destroys.
* In the celebrated Picture of the Sacrifice of IPhIGENIA, Timanthes having exhausted every image of grief in the bystanders, threw a veil over the face of the father, whose sorrow he was utterly unable to express. Plin. Book xxxy.
Had ELDRED pau'd before the blow,
His hand had deter err'd; What guit, what complicated woe,
His soul had tben been spard!
Our crimes inflict alone ;
His miseries from his onm.
A NOBLE Earl — the name I spare, From reverence to the living heir — Lov'd pleasure ; but, to speak the truth, Not much refinement grac'd the youth. The path of pleasure which he trod Was somewhat new, and rather odd; For, that he haunted park or play, His house's archives do not say ; Or that more modish joys he felt, And would in opera transports melt ; Or that he spent his morning's prime In Bond-street bliss till dinner-time: No treasur'd anecdotes record Such pastimes pleas’d the youthful Lord.
One single taste historians mention, A fact, unmingled with invention ; It was a taste you'll think, I fear, Somewhat peculiar for a Peer, Though the rude democratic pen Pretends that Peers are only men. Whatever town or country fair Was advertis’d, my Lord was there. 'Twas not to purchase or to sell -Why went he then ? the Muse shall tell.