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FLORIO, with fearful joy, pursued the maid,
Till through a vista's moonlight-checkered shade,
Where the bat circled, and the rooks reposed
(Their wars suspended, and their councils closed),
An antique mansion burst in solemn state,
A rich vine clustering round the Gothic gate.
Nor paused he there. The master of the scene
Saw his light step imprint the dewy green;
And, slow-advancing, hailed him as his guest,
Won by the honest warmth his looks expressed.
He wore the rustic manners of a Squire;
Age had not quenched one spark of manly fire;
But giant Gout had bound him in her chain,
And his heart panted for the chase in vain.
Yet here Remembrance, sweetly-soothing Power!
Winged with delight Confinement's lingering hour.
The fox's brush still emulous to wear,
He scoured the county in his elbow-chair;
And, with view-halloo, roused the dreaming hound,
That rung, by starts, his deep-toned music round.
Long by the paddock's humble pale confined, His aged hunters coursed the viewless wind : And each, with glowing energy portrayed, The far-famed triumphs of the field displayed; Usurped the canvas of the crowded hall, And chased a line of heroes from the wall. There slept the horn each jocund echo knew, And many a smile and many a story drew! High o'er the hearth his forest-trophies hung, And their fantastic branches wildly flung. How would he dwell on the vast antlers there ! These dashed the wave, those fanned the mountain-air.
All, as they frowned, unwritten records bore
Of gallant feats and festivals of yore.
But why the tale prolong? — His only child,
His darling JULIA, on the stranger smiled.
Her little arts a fretful sire to please,
Her gentle gayety and native case,
Had won his soul; and rapturous Fancy shed
Her golden lights and tints of rosy red.
But, ah! few days had passed, ere the bright vision fled!
When Evening tinged the lake's ethereal blue,
And her deep shades irregularly threw;
Their shifting sail dropt gently from the cove,
Down by St. Herbert's consecrated grove;
Whence erst the chanted hymn, the tapered rite,
Amused the fisher's solitary night;
And still the mitred window, richly wreathed,
A sacred calm through the brown foliage breathed.
The wild deer, starting through the silent glade,
With fearful gaze their various course surveyed.
High hung in air the hoary goat reclined,
His streaming beard the sport of every wind;
And, while the coot her jet-wing loved to lave,
Rocked on the bosom of the sleepless wave,
The eagle rushed from Skiddaw's purple crest,
A cloud still brooding o'er her giant-nest.
And now the moon had dimmed with dewy ray
The few fine flushes of departing day.
O'er the wide water's deep serene she hung,
And her broad lights on every mountain flung;
When, lo! a sudden blast the vessel blew,
And to the surge consigned the little crew.
All, all escaped — but ere the lover bore
His faint and faded JULIA to the shore,
Her sense had fled ! Exhausted by the storm,
A fatal trance hung o'er her pallid form;
Her closing eye a trembling lustre fired;
’T was life's last spark -- it fluttered and expired!
The father strewed his white hairs in the wind,
Called on his child — nor lingered long behind :
And FLORIO lived to see the willow wave,
With many an evening-whisper, o'er their grave.
Yes, FLORO lived -- and, still of each possessed,
The father cherished, and the maid caressed !
Forever would the fond Enthusiast rove, With JULIA’S spirit, through the shadowy grove; Gaze with delight on every scene she planned, Kiss every floweret planted by her hand. Ah! still he traced her steps along the glade, When hazy hues and glimmering lights betrayed Half-viewless forms; still listened as the breeze Heaved its deep sobs among the aged trees; And at each pause her melting accents caught, In sweet delirium of romantic thought ! Dear was the grot that shunned the blaze of day; She gave its spars to shoot a trembling ray. The spring, that bubbled from its inmost cell, Murmured of JULIA's virtues as it fell; And o’er the dripping moss, the fretted stone, In FLORIO's ear breathed language not its own. Her charm around the enchantress MEMORY threw, A charm that soothes the mind, and sweetens too! '
But is her magic only felt below? Say, through what brighter realms she bids it flow;
To what pure beings, in a nobler sphere,10
She yields delight but faintly imaged here:
All that till now their rapt researches knew,
Not called in slow succession to review;
But, as a landscape meets the eye of day,
At once presented to their glad survey !
Each scene of bliss revealed, since chaos fled,
And dawning light its dazzling glories spread;
Each chain of wonders that sublimely glowed,
Since first Creation's choral anthem flowed;
Each ready flight, at Mercy's call divine,
To distant worlds that undiscovered shine;
Full on her tablet flings its living rays,
And all, combined, with blest effulgence blaze.
There thy bright train, immortal Friendship, soar;
No more to part, to mingle tears no more!
And, as the softening hand of Time endears
The joys and sorrows of our infant-years,
So there the soul, released from human strife,
Smiles at the little cares and ills of life;
Its lights and shades, its sunshine and its showers;
As at a dream that charmed her vacant hours !
Oft may the spirits of the dead descend
To watch the silent slumbers of a friend;
To hover round his evening walk unseen,
And hold sweet converse on the dusky green;
To hail the spot where first their friendship grew,
And heaven and nature opened to their view!
Oft when he trims his cheerful hearth, and sees
A smiling circle emulous to please ;
There may these gentle guests delight to dwell,
And bless the scene they loved in life so well!
O thou ! with whom my heart was wont to share
From Reason's dawn each pleasure and each care;
With whom, alas ! I fondly hoped to know
The humble walks of happiness below;
If thy blest nature now unites above
An angel's pity with a brother's love,
Still o'er my life preserve thy mild control,
Correct my views, and elevate my soul;
Grant me thy peace and purity of mind,
Devout yet cheerful, active yet resigned;
Grant me, like thee, whose heart knew no disguise,
Whose blameless wishes never aimed to rise,
To meet the changes Time and Chance present
With modest dignity and calm content.
When thy last breath, ere Nature sunk to rest,
Thy meek submission to thy God expressed;
When thy last look, ere thought and feeling fled,
A mingled gleam of hope and triumph shed;
What to thy soul its glad assurance gave,
Its hope in death, its triumph o'er the grave ?
The sweet Remembrance of unblemished youth,
The still inspiring voice of Innocence and Truth!
Hail, MEMORY, hail ! in thy exhaustless mine
From age to age unnumbered treasures shine !
Thought and her shadowy brood thy call obey,
And Place and Time are subject to thy sway!
Thy pleasures most we feel when most alone;
The only pleasures we can call our own.
Lighter than air, Hope's summer-visions die,
If but a fleeting cloud obscure the sky;
If but a beam of sober Reason play,
Lo! Fancy's fairy frost-work melts away!