A TALE FOUNDED UPON A NOVEL,
” HELEN OF GLENROSS.”
FAIR Helen was the loveliest maid
That Scotia’s land has seen;
A sylph-like form, adorn’d with grace,
Mark’d lovely Helen’s mien.–
Yet not the grace of haughty minds,
But modest, chaste, refin’d;
As if devoid of ev’ry charm,
Save a celestial mind!
The Author of young Helen’s birth
Had dire misfortunes known;
Yet his complex, and various woes,
In verse, could not be shown!
For fiction to disclose;
His children were in ign’rance kept,
Suspecting not –his woes!
Suffice to say, he had resign’d
A noble birth–and name;
And in retirement pass’d a life
Which Nature form’d for fame !
Helen had oft remark’d with grief
Her father’s gloom of mind;
Yet ne’er presum’d to ask the cause ,
From sentiments refin’d!
Yet would she strive to banish care
From his unquiet breast;
And from her harp, such strains would draw
As sooth’d his soul to rest.
Her voice accompanied the sound,
Sweeter than any flute;
And Frazier oft, while list’ning, thought
‘Twas Orpheus and his lute.
Each day some charming trait appear’d
In Helen’s opening mind;
So pure, so perfect, was the fair,
She seem’d like Virtue’s child!
Form’d to be lov’d, ador’d, admir’d ,
Yet not to bloom unseen;
Each courtly friend had oft implor’d
Helen to quit the green,
And mix among the brilliant crowd
That did the court adorn:
Thus Ellen as a rose appear’d,
Encircled with its thorn.
With anxious, yet foreboding fears,
Did Frazier then resign
The object of his tender care,
In Pleasure’s maze–to shine!
Amazement follow’d every step;
Such charms had ne’er been seen!
Yet did no conscious pride appear
In Helen’s modest mien!
Frazier with joy heard the applause
Bestow’d upon his child;
And fondly did he hope to hear
She was some noble’s bride .
Amidst the numbers who were struck
With lovely Helen’s charms,
Was Sedley–dignify’d in form,
And fam’d for feats in arms!
This youth, not form’d in common mould,
Was dignified in mind;
His passions all impetuous were;
Still, he was good and kind.
His soul despis’d all sordid views;
Lucre was not his aim;
He thirsted for that shade, Applause —
That bubble , we term Fame!
Yet what, perhaps, he might have gain’d
By courteous, kind address,
He lost;–because he seem’d to claim;
Each look commands express!
Such was the youth who Helen woo’d,
Yet woo’d, alas! in vain;
The very thought of Sedley’s love
Excited fear and pain!
Rejected by the maid he lov’d
With tenderness sublime;
How shall I tell the pangs he felt!
How paint his woes in rhyme!
By turns he rav’d–by turns he wept;
With frantic grief grew wild;
And Frazier’s rage scarce bound’ries knew
Against his darling child,
When he discover’d she’d refus’d
An offer he admir’d;
For though retir’d in Glenross vale,
Pride still his bosom fired .
And Sedley was, of all the earth,
The man he wish’d to call
By the endearing name of son;
As then the banner’d hall,
Where feats of valour waving hung
In ancestorial pride ,
Would to his Helen then belong,
If she was Sedley’s bride:
But by rejecting Sedley’s love,
These hopes had fled in air;
And Frazier’s angry letter spoke
Daggers –unto the fair !
Surpris’d, affected, and dismay’d;
With many a falling tear,
She begg’d her father to announce
Why Sedley was so dear!
” Oft has my father kindly vow’d
Ne’er to control his child;”
Said duteous Helen, in reply,
“Then why severely chide?”
A piteous tale was then disclos’d,
A tale of woe and pain;
And Helen vow’d to be a bride,
If Sedley sued again!
To sooth the agitated mind,
Toss’d on affliction’s storm,
Helen conceiv’d that duty forc’d
A daughter to perform.
With grief of heart had Helen read
Those marks of rage or ire;
And but for reading ,–ne’er conceiv’d
Them written by her sire .–
The news that Helen’s father blam’d
Her hasty, fix’d decree,
Was soon by friends to Sedley told,
Who vow’d that sire to see.
Helen, unable to sustain
A father’s rage and ire,
Once more return’d to sweet Glenross,
To see her much-lov’d sire.
And scarce had Helen said, “I’m wrong!”
When all resentment flies;
He press’d her to his throbbing heart,
With transport, joy, surprise!
A fresh surprise was still in store,
For Sedley soon appears;
Again he breathes the ardent vow
In lovely Helen’s ears!
With modest blush, and downcast eye,
She listen’d to the tale;
Whilst Sedley, all impatient waits
On Expectation’s gale.
And as her ruby lips unclos’d,
He trembled lest the sound
Should crush his new, aspiring hopes,
In an abyss–profound!
A tear , defying all control,
Stole down his manly cheek;
That precious gem, which feeling shows
When language is too weak
To paint sensations of the heart,
With hopes and fears opprest;
Helen beheld the crystal drop,
And pity –touch’d her breast;
Pity, so near allied to Love,
That Poets all declare
Them sister-twins, –meant to evince
The softness of the fair!
Though pity soften’d Helen’s breast,
Yet duty made it rise;
And whilst to speak she oft essay’d,
Her voice seem’d check’d by sighs.
“Speak, my belov’d!” then Sedley cried
“Thy Lover waits his doom;
But if rejected,–here I swear
To die on Glory’s tomb!
“For life, without my Helen’s love,
Would be a life of woe;
Love’s poison I have deeply drank,
A poison sure ,–but slow !”
He spoke, and press’d her downy hand
With transport to his heart;
A smile angelic,–grac’d the maid,
And rivetted the dart.–
The smile did no reluctance seem
To publish or proclaim;
Sedley with transport felt its force,
‘Twas fuel to his flame!
“If, Sedley,” said the blushing maid,
With fault’ring tone of voice,
“Esteem and gratitude can e’er
Repay thy flatt’ring choice,
“Helen accepts thy ardent vows,
And plights her vows to thine;
Yet love’s strong passion in this breast
Burns not with rays divine!”
“Enough, my angel!” he exclaim’d,
And clasp’d her to his breast;
“Thy Sedley shall inspire that love ;
Then feel completely blest!”
Sedley then urg’d the timid fair
To name an early day;
And when the nuptial knot was tied,
He bore his bride away–
To scenes of fashion, pomp, and state,
Unknown in Glenross vale;
And Frazier fear’d his darling child
In Fashion’s stream should sail!
Yet well he knew Ambition’s glare
Is but a fatuus gleam;
And that the lovely Helen ne’er
Was pleas’d with Fashion’s beam.
Domestic pleasures were her choice;
Her joys all pure and chaste;
And visiting the humble roof
Of poverty–her taste.
Sedley he heard was prone to vice ,
Attach’d to wealth and state;
In short, to all those glaring faults,
Which stigmatize the great .
E’er Helen had the charm dissolv’d ,
A mistress was his pride;
Woodley her name;–a friend of art,
Yet she was Sedley’s guide.
Too late he saw the dreadful snare
That wicked woman laid;
Hatred usurp’d the place of love ,
Yet still he was afraid
To aggravate the wretch’s wrath
To whom he had assign’d
A bond , which must destruction bring ;
Distraction seiz’d his mind!
Still, still, from Helen did he try
To hide each deed of blame;
But cruel Rumour’s busy tongue
Soon told of Sedley’s shame.
Sedley was then no longer frail;
He lov’d,–ador’d his wife;
And, to insure her happiness ,
With joy had yielded life.
By contrast, Woodley was despis’d,
He loath’d her former charms;
Yet dreading lest the bond was claim’d,
He fled into her arms.
Hating himself–hating a crime,
Which stigmatiz’d his fame;
He could not meet his spotless wife
Without a sense of shame!
Helen beheld his alter’d brow,
Beheld it with despair;
Yet little knew the inward pangs
Which veil’d that brow–with care!
Rumour, as I before observ’d,
Gave gentle Helen pain;
At length a letter meets her hands,
Which made denial vain;
For in that fatal note, or scroll,
Woodley display’d her part;
Call’d loudly upon Sedley’s love ,
And claim’d –his fetter’d heart.
Alas ! what wife could patient read
So vile,–so sad a claim,
Without experiencing those pangs
Which set the mind in flame!
Helen inclos’d the shocking proof
Of passions uncontroll’d ,
Condemning Sedley for her wrongs,
In language strong and cold!
Rage, indignation, and despair ,
By turns usurp’d his breast;
A direful vow he solemn took,
Which robb’d his soul of rest!
He vow’d to quit his native shore,
And see no more his wife ;
The sacred contract firm he kept,
Fatal to peace,–and life.
Woodley resolv’d to share his fate
Disguis’d, she sought the fleet;
Secur’d a passage in the ship,
And there the lovers meet.
Helen this news too quickly heard,
And begs, intreats, implores,
Her angry lord to seek his home,
Nor quit his native shores.
But, like a rock, unmov’d he stood,
Both sighs and tears , were vain;
In terms severe, again he vow’d
They ne’er could meet again.
The injur’d Helen keenly felt
This insult from her lord;
The wound inflicted was as deep
As any treach’rous sword
Could e’er inflict upon a breast
It ought to shield or ‘fend:
Thus cruel Sedley wounded his
Kindest,–and dearest friend!
Helen, discarded in her Prime ,
Return’d to Glenross vale;
There did her sorrows soon burst forth
Into a dreadful gale!
Her friends in clusters came
To offer consolation to, a mind
Untouch’d with shame.
Yet still had disappointed hope
Her promis’d joys consum’d;
And the sweet Rose of Glenross Vale.
Seemed wither’d, ere it bloom’d.
Amongst the num’rous friends that came,
Was Stuart, great and good;
His sanction–was a host of fame ;
On Virtue’s rock, he stood.
And with him came the polish’d lord,
For whom the trump of fame
Had sounded oft in Helen’s ears,
As free from spot or blame.
Ah! luckless visit! big with woe;
With horror , and despair ;
For Helen seem’d by Nature form’d
To fall to Dorville’s share!
Oh! had they met before the knot,
The dreadful knot was tied;
Then Dorville had, indeed, been blest,
And Helen been his bride.
They met, ’tis true; but Helen then
Was but in years a child;
And Dorville merely saw in her
A creature soft and mild .
But when he view’d her ripen’d charms,
And listen’d to her voice,
How did he blame his wayward heart,
That might have made a choice;
Might have secur’d the precious prize,
Ere Sedley own’d a flame!
For Stuart oft had wish’d the youth
To give the fair his name.
Though Helen was a peerless maid,
Unmatch’d in form and mein ;
Dorville in ev’ry grace excell’d,
His equal–ne’er was seen!
Persuasion hung upon his lips,
Instruction mark’d his mind;
His ev’ry look, his ev’ry thought,
Was noble, chaste, refin’d!
But love, all-powerful love, distain’d
A mind by Nature chaste;
And his frail heart sent forth a wish,
Forbidden joys to taste.
By zeal unfeign’d, for Helen’s bliss,
He stole into her heart;
Stuart perceiv’d the wily snare,
And shew’d his pupil’s art.
Helen awoke, as from a dream;
Awoke, alas! too late;
Her heart was gone, although her mind
Was firmly fix’d as fate!
Never could one unchaste desire
That radiant mind o’ercloud;
But ah! her sun of happiness
Was ‘velop’d in a shroud!
And to complete her poignant woes,
Strange news of Sedley came
His love for Helen had return’d
With an increase of flame!
He felt the folly of the past,
And Woodley’s claims were o’er;
With rapid haste he hasten’d back
Unto his native shore.
Then with true penitence of heart
He meant to see his wife;
Implore forgiveness on his knees,
And vow to love through life!
Helen with anguish heard this plan,
With terror and dismay;
And vow’d her husband ne’er to see
Until the judgment day.
Not guilty she in act , but thought ;
Dorville possess’d her heart;
Could she, then, meet its rightful lord,
Without the aid of art?
But Helen knew not how to feign
Pleasure–or great surprise;
Sedley had once refus’d her love,
And call’d upon the skies,
To witness this his sacred oath,
That they no more should meet;
But that forgotten, home he sails
With the Egyptian fleet.
He sails, and lands on Albion’s isle,
With anxious, throbbing breast;
To Glenross Vale he bends his course,
Seeking repose and rest!
For peace had long a stranger been
To hapless Sedley’s heart;
Too late he trac’d out Woodley’s wiles,
Her treachery and art.
But rumour now with Helen’s fame
Had cruel busy been;
And Sedley heard that Dorville
Had, –tempted the Fair to sin.
Impetuous as volcanic fires,
His varying passions rose;
Unhappy man! the fates decree
Thou ne’er should’st feel repose!
The purity of Helen’s fame
He scarce could doubt or blame;
But he believ’d Lord Dorville had
Tried to disgrace her name.
Belief with Sedley was a fact ;
His passions were on fire;
And whilst he journey’d to Glenross,
Each mile increas’d his ire !
Helen was journeying on the road,
And Dorville chanc’d to meet;
Oh, fatal chance! oh, luckless hour!
An hour to vengeance sweet!
For at the self-same inn they stopp’d,
That Sedley entertain’d;
A thin partition form’d the wall,–
Each utter’d word explain’d.
And Sedley heard Lord Dorville breathe
Vows into Helen’s ears;
Of love,–eternal love and truth;
He maddens as he hears!
Yet Helen tried to check those vows
Prophaning to a wife;
And no encouragement she gave
To him whose very life
Seem’d bound in her’s–but pity soon
Soften’d her gentle breast;
And she declar’d that were she free,
Dorville would then be blest!
Blest with the hand as well as heart,
Of her, whose dreary life
Would pass unsolac’d and retir’d,
Whilst she was Sedley’s wife!
Yet wife alone by wedlock’s ties ,
Was all that she could prove;
Sedley had once rejected her,
She now despis’d his love!
“Yet Dorville,” said the weeping fair,
“If Helen’s peace is dear,
Never, oh! never, I implore,
Before my face appear!
“Respect my sorrows, and my woes,
Respect my spotless name;
I’m Sedley’s wife–not Helen now;
Who might have shar’d thy fame!”
Such was the language Sedley heard,
And heard it with dismay;
“Vengeance!” he cried; “Vengeance, ye gods!
Vengeance, without delay!”
The hapless Dorville had retir’d
To soothe his cares to rest;
But Sedley soon disturb’d the lord
With this severe behest:
To meet him e’er an hour elaps’d,
In an adjoining field;
Dorville attended the command,
Their glittering points they wield.
Dorville is wounded–Sedley dies–
Yet e’er his parting breath
Escap’d his lips, Helen had heard
A dreadful tale of death.
Frantic with grief and woe she flies;
But ah! too late arrives!
She threw herself upon his form;
She heard his last faint sighs!
Distraction sudden seiz’d her brain;
Her eyes with wildness roll;
Her servants bear her from the scene,
But who shall calm her soul?
Not, not on earth, poor hapless fair,
Thy spirit e’er can rest;
But in the realms of pure delight
‘Twill be a spotless guest!
For pure and spotless was thy mind;
Thy virtue was unstain’d;
Yet being Sedley’s wedded wife,
Thy conduct must be blam’d.
Woe to a wife despis’d, forsworn,
Who listens to Love’s voice
From any but that husband’s lips,
Whom she had made her choice.
And woe to ev’ry parent’s heart
Who lets ambition prove
A cement for connubial bonds,
Bonds only firm by love.
May Helen’s death, for ah! she died
Distracted and forlorn;
Prove that ambition’s flow’ry road
Conceals the pointed thorn!
(Mary Hopkins Pilkington)
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Based on Keywords: evince, presum, partition, maddens, distain, ign, fatuus, uncontroll, unmatch, unchaste, sylph-like