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And mow thro' infancy and age;
Then kiss the sacred dust and melt in tears.
Veiling from the eye of day,
Penance dreams her life away;
rise. Hear, with what heart-felt beat, the midnight bell Swings its slow summons thro' the hollow pile! The weak, wan votarist leaves her twilight cell, To walk, with taper dim, the winding isle;
With choral chantings vainly to aspire, Beyond this nether sphere, on Rapture's wing of fire.
Lord of each pang the nerves can feel,
Hence with the rack and reeking wheel.
While gleams of glory open round,
Thy triumphs cease! thro' every land,
Her heavenly form, with glowing hand,
Each fine feeling as it flows;
Her voice the echo of her heart,
Pure as the mountain-snows:
Celestial transports round her play,
That blackened o'er thy baleful reign?
Shrinking from her glance in vain.
Yes, 'tis the pulse of life! my fears were vain;
After a Tragedy, performed for her benefit, at the Theatre Royal in Drury-lane, April 27, 1795.
--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, no 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,
Woman studies stage-effect.
And, as the grave or gay her talent calls,
First, how her little breast with triumph swells,
Or lisp her merry thoughts with loud endeavour, 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 vapours; 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!