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TO TWO SISTERS.18

1795.

WELL may you sit within, and, fond of grief,

Look in each other's face, and melt in tears. Well may you shun all counsel, all relief.

O, she was great in mind, though young in years!

Changed is that lovely countenance, which shed

Light when she spoke; and kindled sweet surprise, As o'er her frame each warm emotion spread,

Played round her lips, and sparkled in her eyes.

Those lips so pure, that moved but to persuade,

Still to the last enlivened and endeared. Those eyes at once her secret soul conveyed,

And ever beamed delight when you appeared.

Yet has she fled the life of bliss below,

That youthful Hope in bright perspective drew ? False were the tints ! false as the feverish glow

That o'er her burning cheek Distemper threw !

And now in joy she dwells, in glory moves !

(Glory and joy reserved for you to share.) Far, far more blest in blessing those she loves,

Than they, alas! unconscious of her care.

TO A FRIEND ON HIS MARRIAGE.

227

TO A FRIEND ON HIS MARRIAGE.

On thee, blest youth, a father's hand confers

The maid thy earliest, fondest wishes knew. Each soft enchantment of the soul is hers;

Thine be the joys to firm attachment due.

As on she moves with hesitating grace,

She wins assurance from his soothing voice; And, with a look the pencil could not trace,

Smiles through her blushes, and confirms the choice.

Spare the fine tremors of her feeling frame !

To thee she turns — forgive a virgin's fears ! To thee she turns with surest, tenderest claim;

Weakness that charms, reluctance that endears!

At each response the sacred rite requires,

From her full bosom bursts the unbidden sigh. A strange mysterious awe the scene inspires;

And on her lips the trembling accents die.

O'er her fair face what wild emotions play!

What lights and shades in sweet confusion blend ! Soon shall they fly, glad harbingers of day,

And settled sunshine on her soul descend !

Ah ! soon, thine own confest, ecstatic thought !

That hand shall strew thy summer-path with flowers; And those blue eyes, with mildest lustre fraught,

Gild the calm current of domestic hours !

WRITTEN TO BE SPOKEN BY MRS. SIDDONS. 19

YES, 't is the pulse of life! my fears were vain;
I wake, I breathe, and am myself again.
Still in this nether world; no seraph yet !
Nor walks my spirit, when the sun is set,
With troubled step to haunt the fatal board,
Where I died last -- by poison or the sword;
Blanching each honest cheek with deeds of night,
Done here so oft by dim and doubtful light.

- To drop all metaphor, that little bell
Called back reality, and broke the spell.
No heroine claims your tears with tragic tone;
A very woman scarce restrains her own!
Can she, with fiction, charm the cheated mind,
When to be grateful is the part assigned ?
Ah, no! she scorns the trappings of her art;
No theme but truth, ņo prompter but the heart !

But, Ladies, say, must I alone unmask ?
Is here no other actress, let me ask.
Believe me, those, who best the heart dissect,
Know every woman studies stage-effect.
She moulds her manners to the part she fills,
As Instinct teaches, or as Humor wills;
And, as the grave or gay her talent calls,
Acts in the drama, till the curtain falls.

First, how her little breast with triumph swells,
When the red coral rings its golden bells !
To play in pantomime is then the rage,
Along the carpet's many-colored stage;

WRITTEN TO BE SPOKEN BY MRS. SIDDONS.

229

Or lisp her merry thoughts with loud endeavor,
Now here, now there,— in noise and mischief ever!

A school-girl next, she curls her hair in papers,
And mimics father's gout, and mother's vapors ;
Discards her doll, bribes Betty for romances;
Playful at church, and serious when she dances ;
Tramples alike on customs and on toes,
And whispers all she hears to all she knows;
Terror of caps, and wigs, and sober notions !
A romp! that longest of perpetual motions !
-- Till, tamed and tortured into foreign graces,
She sports her lovely face at public places ;
And with blue, laughing eyes, behind her fan,
First acts her part with that great actor, MAN.

Too soon a flirt, approach her and she flies!
Frowns when pursued, and, when entreated, sighs!
Plays with unhappy men as cats with mice;
Till fading beauty hints the late advice.
Her prudence dictates what her pride disdained,
And now she sues to slaves herself had chained !

Then comes that good old character, a Wife,
With all the dear, distracting cares of life;
A thousand cards a day at doors to leave,
And, in return, a thousand cards receive;
Rouge high, play deep, to lead the ton aspire,
With nightly blaze set PORTLAND-PLACE on fire ;
Snatch half a glimpse at concert, opera, ball,
A meteor, traced by none, though seen by all;
And, when her shattered nerves forbid to roam,
In very spleen --- rehearse the girls at home.

Last the gray Dowager, in ancient flounces,
With snuff and spectacles the age denounces;

Boasts how the sires of this degenerate Isle
Knelt for a look, and duelled for a smile.
The scourge and ridicule of Goth and Vandal,
Her tea she sweetens, as she sips, with scandal ;
With modern belles eternal warfare wages,
Like her own birds that clamor from their cages;
And shuflles round to bear her tale to all,
Like some old Ruin, "nodding to its fall!”

Thus WOMAN makes her entrance and her exit;
Not least an actress when she least suspects it.
Yet Nature oft peeps out and mars the plot,
Each lesson lost, each poor pretence forgot ;
Full oft, with energy that scorns control,
At once lights up the features of the soul;
Unlocks each thought chained down by coward Art,
And to full day the latent passions start !
- And she, whose first, best wish is your applause,
Herself exemplifies the truth she draws.
Born on the stage -- through every shifting scene,
Obscure or bright, tempestuous or serene,
Still has your smile her trembling spirit fired!
And can she act, with thoughts like these inspired ?
No! from her mind all artifice she flings,
All skill, all practice, now unmeaning things !
To you, unchecked, each genuine feeling flows;
For all that life endears — to

to you she owes.

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