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And that a sterner death for thee remain.'
No more did Rosamond entreat in vain;
But, forc'd to hard necessity to yield,
Drank of the fatal portion that she held.
And with it enter'd the grim tyrant Death:
Yet gave such respite, that her dying breath.
Might beg forgiveness from the heavenly throne,
And pardon those that her destruction
Had doubly wrought. 'Forgive, oh Lord, said she,
Him that dishonour'd, her that murder'd me.
Yet let me speak, for truth's sake, angry queen :
If you had spar'd my life, I might have been
In time to come th' example of your glory;
Not of your shame, as now; for when the story
Of hapless Rosamond is read, the best
And holiest people, as they will detest
My crime, and call it foul, they will abhor,
And call unjust the rage of Eleanor.
And in this act of yours it will be thought
King Henry's sorrow, not his love, you sought.'
And now so far the venom's force assail'd
Her vital parts, that life with language fail'd.
That well-built palace where the Graces made
Their chief abode, where thousand Cupids play'd
And couch'd their shafts, whose structure did delight
Ev'n Nature's self, is now demolish'd quite,
Ne'er to be rais'd again; th' untimely stroke
Of Death that precious cabinet has broke,
That Henry's pleased heart so long had held.
With sudden mourning now the house is fill'd;
Nor can the queen's attendants, though they fear
Her wrath, from weeping at the sight forbear.
'By rough north blasts so blooming roses fade;
So crushed falls the lily's tender blade.
Her hearse at Godstow Abbey they inter,
Where sad and lasting monuments of her
For many years did to the world remain.
Nought did the queen by this dire slaughter gain,
But more her lord's displeasure aggravate;
And now when he return'd in prosperous state,
This act was cause, together with that crime
Of raising his unnatural sons 'gainst him,
That she so long in prison was detain'd,
And whilst he lived, her freedom never gain'd.
THE PAUPER'S FUNERAL.
Now once again the gloomy scene explore,
Less gloomy now, the bitter hour is o'er;
The man of many sorrows sighs no more.
Up yonder hill behold how sadly slow
The bier moves winding from the vale below!
There lies the happy dead, from trouble free,
And the glad parish pays the frugal fee.
No more, O Death! thy victim starts to hear
Churchwardens stern, or kingly overseer:
No more the farmer claims his humble bow;
Thou art his lord, the best of tyrants thou!
Now to the church behold the mourners come,
Sedately torpid, and devoutly dumb:
The village children now their games suspend,
To see the bier that bears their ancient friend ;
For he was one in all their idle sport,
And like a monarch rul'd their little court;
The pliant bow he form'd, the flying ball,
The bat, the wicket, were his labours all;
Him now they follow to his grave, and stand
Silent and sad, and gazing, hand in hand;
While bending low, their eager eyes explore
The mingled relics of the parish poor:
The bell tolls late, the moping owl flies round,
Fear marks the flight and magnifies the sound;
The busy priest, detain'd by weightier care,
Defers his duty till the day of prayer,
And waiting long, the crowd retire distress'd
To think a poor man's bones should lie unbless'd.
FUNERAL OF THE LADY OF THE MANOR.
NEXT died the lady who yon hall possess'd,
And here they brought her noble bones to rest.
In town she dwelt; forsaken stood the hall,
Worms eat the floors, the tap'stry fled the wall;
No fire the kitchen's cheerless grate display'd;
No cheerful light the long-clos'd sash convey'd!
The crawling worm that turns a summer fly,
Here spun his shroud, and laid him up to die
The winter-death, upon the bed of state;
The bat shrill shrieking woo'd his flickering mate:
To empty rooms the curious came no more,
From empty cellars turn'd the angry boor,
And surly beggars curs'd the ever-bolted door.
To one small room the steward found his way,
Where tenants followed to complain and pay;
Yet no complaint before the lady came,'
The feeling servant spar'd the feeble dame,
Who saw her farms with his observing eyes,
And answer'd all requests with his replies:
She came not down her falling groves to view;
Why should she know what one so faithful knew ?
Why come from many clamorous tongues to hear
What one so just might whisper in her ear?
Her oaks or acres why with care explore,
Why learn the wants, the sufferings of the poor,
When one so knowing all their worth could trace,
And one so piteous govern'd in her place?
Lo! now, what dismal sons of darkness come
To bear this daughter of indulgence home,
Tragedians all, and well arrang'd in black!
Who nature, feeling, force, expression, lack;
Who cause no tear, but gloomily pass by,
And shake the sables in the wearied eye,
That turns disgusted from the pompous scene,
Proud without grandeur, with profession mean.
The tear for kindness past affection owes,
For worth deceas'd the sigh from reason flows;
E'en well-feign'd passions for our sorrows call,
And real tears for mimic miseries fall;
But this poor farce has neither truth nor art
To please the fancy, or to touch the heart;
Unlike the darkness of the sky, that pours
On the dry ground its fertilizing showers;
Unlike to that which strikes the soul with dread,
When thunders roar, and forky fires are shed:
Dark but not awful, dismal but yet mean,
With anxious bustle moves the cumbrous scene;
Presents no objects, tender or profound,
But spreads its cold unmeaning gloom around.
When woes are feign'd, how ill such forms
And oh! how needless when the wo's sincere!
Slow to the vault they come with heavy tread,
Bending beneath the lady and her lead;
A case of elm surrounds that ponderous chest,
Close on that case the crimson velvet's press'd;
Ungen'rous this, that to the worm denies
With niggard caution his appointed prize;
For now, ere yet he works his tedious way
Through cloth, and wood, and metal, to his prey,
That prey dissolving shall a mass remain
That fancy loathes, and worms themselves disdain.
But see, the master-mourner makes his way
To end his office for the coffin'd clay,
Pleas'd that our rustic men and minds behold
His plate like silver, and his studs like gold;
As they approach to spell the age, the name,
And all the titles of th' illustrious dame:
This as (my duty done) some scholar read,
A village father look'd disdain, and said,-
'Away my friends! why take such pains to know
What some brave marble soon in church shall
Where not alone her gracious name shall stand,
But how she liv'd the blessing of the land;
How much we all deplor'd the noble dead,
What groans we utter'd, and what tears we shed;
Tears true as those which in the sleepy eyes
Of weeping cherubs on the stone shall rise;
Tears true as those, which, ere she found her grave,
The noble lady to our sorrows gave.'
FUNERAL OF ISAAC ASHFORD, A VIRTUOUS
NOBLE he was, condemning all things mean, His truth unquestion'd, and his soul serene; 18*